Quick Thoughts on the First Presidential Debate
There was a tremendous build up to the first presidential debate. Too much build up. The amount of dollars being spent on the campaign overall by each of the major party candidates is absolutely absurd. Since we love to analyze these things like it's the NFL, here are some initial reactions (and armchair quarterbacking) to the first presidential debate.
Full disclosure: I am registered as an Independent, and I think that the two party system is pulling this country down into a binary hell that will soon be irreversible if it isn't already. I'm voting for Gary Johnson, so I don't have a dog in the fight between the major party candidates. With that said....
Neither Major Party Candidate Was About Ideas or Grand Visions Tonight
So much of what was said tonight were attacks on one another. Neither candidate painted a grand, bold vision of how they thought America should be. Neither advocated for their compelling version of America. They both focused on breaking each other down and defining their opponent. Think of this as boxers checking their range against a new opponent. Trying to figure out where the right hook is going to land after all the jabs. I expect that eventually we hear some more substance as to what affirmative steps each would take to address certain issues.
The First Debate Was Not a Rhetorical Masterpiece by Either Candidate
Rhet • o • ric - noun. 1. the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.
Debating and public speaking can be an art form, but that's not what we are going to get with these two. They both get an F.
The Donald Uses Hyperbole A Lot and Got Away With It Every Time
This was a revelation. One thing I always tell anyone who is interested in public speaking or debating: avoid, whenever possible, using a superlative unless its absolutely necessary to deliver your point. Why? Because the minute you do that, you open the door for your opponent to hit you with whatever counterattack they have prepared.
In tonight's debate, it was truly amazing how many times the Donald did exactly that without any credible counterattack from Hillary. She's a smart woman, and a pro as a speaker. Even a first year law student figures this out after a short period of time. When your opponent gives you a huge opening like that, you attack.
"My businesses are fantastic!" No response.
"My company is incredible!" No response.
"I have a terrific temperament!" No response.
There were many other examples. I was waiting for her to drop the hammer on a few of these statements but it never happened where she scored any points. Hillary seems to be intentionally avoiding the appearance of going on the attack. This is a calculated decision. There were just too many opportunities to blow up statements that Trump made that went unanswered.
The Presidential Election Cycle Should Be Drastically Shortened To 60 Days
In this day and age you can broadcast what you're doing or seeing around the world immediately - in real time - via Periscope or Facebook Live. Back when steam locomotives were the only real form of long distance travel, I get that a campaign to meet people around the country could take months. Unfortunately, that's how the presidential election cycle is still constructed. It's way too long, and there's too much of a consulting and media industry that has sprung up around the elections for there to be any meaningful reform of the process. Right now it's a huge fountain of cash that all the consultants get to swim around for a couple of years at a time. (Plus, what will the network news anchors talk about for 18 months before the election?)
Right now I can pick up my phone on check out what someone in London or Istanbul is broadcasting from their mobile device this very second. In the days of the telegraph, and before telephones even, it would have taken months and months to travel far and wide win votes. Those days are long gone. Everyone can see what's happening around the world right now.
The entire process of educating the voters about the primary candidates and then the party nominations could occur in 60 days or less with the technology we have right now. The people that win in a two year long presidential campaign are the consultants that service and staff the campaigns. We all lose because we have to listen to it day in and day out.
It Appears The Donald Will Steamroll His Way into the White House
My friends who are Hillary supporters are going to hate reading this, but this is the reality of the situation. Hillary is a career bureaucrat, and not someone who is an experienced campaigner that wins close elections in an ideologically diverse field of voters. There is a difference between a bureaucrat and someone who can win elections.
Her Senate seat was in heavily Democrat leaning New York. She was chosen by the Machine to run for that seat when Sen. Moynihan retired. It was a safe, friendly environment for her. What do you do with a rookie NFL quarterback in his first game? Call some easy high percentage screen passes to build confidence and momentum. That was the NY Senate race.
Initially Rudy Giuliani was her opponent, a former prosecutor and NYC mayor who isn't afraid to mix things up. But, recall Giuliani pulled out of the race with a health issue and was replaced by Rick Lazio, then a three term Congressman. Lazio is not Giuliani.
Her reelection in 2006 to the Senate was by beating the former mayor of Yonkers. That's who the GOP put up to unseat her.
Conclusion: Hillary did not face any credible opponent in either Senate election.
She then faces a credible opponent and lost the presidential primary in '08 to Obama despite having a former President stump for her. Presumably, she is handed the Secretary of State gig as a thank you for conceding the '08 presidential race. This is not me bashing any particular party, this is the way it works.
Fast forward to the 2016 Presidential election. She faces a primary opponent in Bernie Sanders who almost pulls the nomination away from her, but comes up short. Then it comes out that the DNC was in the bag for Hillary all along and actively aided Hillary by hindering and sabotaging Sanders' campaign. The DNC Chair who resigns in the wake of that revelation is immediately is hired by the Clinton campaign.
So Hillary defeated a essentially last minute replacement for Rudy Giuliani, then a former Yonkers Mayor, but loses to Obama - a credible campaigner but not a household name - in '08. The deck is stacked for her at the DNC for the '16 presidential run. The competition she beat in her Senate races were substitutes called in off the bench. However, Donald Trump is a different thing altogether.
Trump, despite all of his faults, which are legion, is a very effective speaker in his own way. He is underestimated for his skill at connecting with "regular" people. He has no political experience. He is prone to mangle the English language on occasion. He is a bully. He is crass, among many other things.
BUT, he steamrolled through a large field of experienced, battle tested GOP presidential candidates that included NINE former or current state governors: Kasich (Ohio), Bush (Florida), Christie (New Jersey), Huckabee (Arkansas), Pataki (New York), Perry (Texas), Jindal (Louisiana), Walker (Wisconsin), Gilmore (Virginia); FIVE former or current senators (Graham (SC), Santorum (PA), Rubio (Florida), Paul (Kentucky), Cruz (Texas)); and one former Fortune 100 CEO (Carly Fiorina).
Trump defeated that field plus the GOP machine, plus the media, which clearly didn't want him to win the primary. But it happened.
If the first debate was any indicator, Trump will win the whole thing, and its not going to be close. Everyone prepare because it's going to be a wild ride.