I’m one of those people who has pretty much “checked out” of the day-to-day hysteria of the Presidential campaign. (I’m old, and there’s only so much I can take….). So I decided not to watch the first debate, reasoning–I think correctly–that my impressions would be irrelevant anyway.
What ultimately matters is the ensuing “conventional wisdom.”
The consensus from all the sources I’ve seen is that Hillary won pretty convincingly. I’m sure the twitter feeds of the white supremacists, and the Facebook feeds of the “deplorables” say otherwise, but reports from credible media, the prediction markets, and TV news anchors have been pretty consistent.
One news segment was particularly telling. Frank Luntz is a longtime GOP “message mavin.” We have him to thank for the (mis)use of political language: “death tax” rather than estate tax, for example. He is also known for the focus groups he assembles; somehow, in these polarized times, he finds voters who are undecided, has them watch campaign events, and then questions them on their reactions.
The group he’d gathered for the debate was asked, on camera, who won. Five people said Trump; sixteen said Clinton. Luntz said the margin was the largest of any group he’d previously assembled.
For those of us who actually care about substance, there were a number of sites doing fact-checking. Anyone who wasn’t previously aware that Trump occasionally lies (but only when he’s talking) could scroll through the real-time corrections and compare the consistent challenges to Trump’s statements with the virtual absence of corrections to Clinton’s.
For us ordinary people who always, dutifully, did our homework, probably the most confounding element of the 90 minutes was Trump’s obvious lack of preparation–a lack that received a great deal of comment. The Orange One evidently couldn’t be bothered to study, to actually educate himself about the complexities of governance. He apparently believed he could “wing it.” Evidently, he believes Presidents can just “wing it,” too.
The real question, of course, won’t be answered until election day, and that is: how many Americans will base their votes on the best interests of the country, and how many will support an angry, delusional and demonstrably ignorant bigot who defends and deepens their resentment of a world they find unfair and their conviction that those “others” are to blame?