Monday, October 10, 2016

The dictator vs. the diplomat wage war in the second debate

My lasting visual image of last night is Hillary speaking directly to members of the audience (about education and religious/ethnic tolerance, for example) while Trump paced around behind her. While Hillary spoke to the audience, Trump stayed at the lectern and spoke at them.

What about the facts?

The AP did a fact check on the claims made in the debate. I'll use the version at tucson.com (Daily Star). Most of the fact checking was focused on claims made by Trump. On my count Trump scores 7 false, 1 partly false, and 1 partly true. Clinton scored 1 partly false, 1 partly true and 1 true. Those figures are close to the 70/30 split previously reported by Politifact.

One reason for the difference in total number of facts checked by AP is the blithering done by Trump. Early on he went off the rails and that persisted throughout the debate - in spite of attempts by the moderators (Cooper and Raddatz) to get him to stay on track. In that respect, Trump repeated his performance in the first debate. Because of Trump's verbal vomit, he provides more "facts" to check.

The "nastiest" debate of all

John Cassidy (New Yorker) characterized the debate as the "nastiest" of all time. Amy Davidson (also New Yorker) nailed Trump for his assertions that he would get a special prosecutor to jail Clinton. Here is part of that exchange between Clinton and Trump

[Clinton] explained that, given the number of lies Trump told, she would never get to talk about her actual policies if she spent all her time “fact-checking Donald.” (That is a fair statement.) She mentioned a fact-checking hub on her Web site, and then said, “It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”

“Because you’d be in jail,” Trump said. He drew out the last word—jay-ull—like an eight-year-old playground bully’s taunt. A Presidential candidate saying that his opponent should be behind bars—and will be, if he has anything to do with it—may be new and shocking in a Presidential debate. But it is not new in this campaign. It is, indeed, one of the most regular features of Trumpism; “Lock her up” chants are heard at almost all his rallies. That doesn’t make it less disturbing. The jail threat is jarring, in part, because it reflects what Trump understands the power of the President to be: he gets to lock her up. (Trump has a whole set of conspiracy theories based on the notion that President Obama is blackmailing Clinton with the threat that he will lock her up.) “Hillary for Prison” buttons are for sale on the Trump campaign Web site. And such threats are not new, sadly, in the world beyond America. The use of criminal law as a discretionary political tool is why, historically, some people have wanted to leave other countries to come here. Trump put an ugly smudge on that beacon.

Who won?

The HuffPollster (via email) reports snap polls favoring Clinton.

SNAP POLLS SUGGEST CLINTON ‘WON’ DEBATE - HuffPollster: “Those who watched Sunday’s match between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump think Clinton won, preliminary polls find, but the results suggest the event did little to change the race. In a scientific online snap poll from YouGov, Clinton won a relatively narrow victory, with 47 percent of registered voters who watched the debate saying she did a better job, 42 percent saying Donald Trump did, and 12 percent saying it was a tie….Clinton scored a bigger win in a snap poll from CNN/ORC, which recontacted people who said in a past poll that they planned to watch the debate. Fifty-seven percent of the debate-watchers polled said that Clinton won, while 34 percent favored Trump. Clinton’s advantage was in part due to the fact that those tuning into the debate are more likely to be Democrats than the nation as a whole, as CNN’s Jake Tapper noted. Both snap polls, in fact, suggest that few minds were changed by the debate. The share of those polled by CNN who thought Clinton won is nearly identical to the 58 percent of viewers who said before the event that they supported her. YouGov, similarly, found their respondents planning to vote for Clinton by a 48-42 margin, neatly mirroring the divide on who won the debate….[Trump] needed an exceptionally good night if he hoped to regain ground. The earliest results suggest that’s very unlikely to be the case.” [HuffPost]

Amy Davidson weighs in on who won.

... “O.K., Donald. I know you’re into big diversion tonight, anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it’s exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you,” [Clinton] finally said.

That is true. Clinton won this debate; she was consistently more informed, she fought calmly and effectively under enormous pressure, and she spoke to American ideals, as in her answer to a Muslim-American woman who had asked about Islamophobia. She didn’t simply say that the “Access Hollywood” video was disgusting; she connected it to Trump’s larger mode of dealing with any number of groups and to a vision of the way he, and, in contrast, she, would govern. ...

Trump did nothing to dispel any of the concerns about him—not about his temperament, or his commitment to civil liberties, or his tax returns, or his fundamental bigotry. His discussion of Syria was incoherent: he wrote off Aleppo, the besieged city, and started complaining about the planned campaign in Mosul, which is in Iraq. (He also said that he hadn’t talked to his running mate, Mike Pence, about Syria and didn’t agree with him on it; Pence, seemingly ending his brief, video-inspired vacation from sycophancy, tweeted after the debate that Trump had won big.) In his exchange with the Muslim-American woman, he repeated a false story about how all sorts of people—Muslims, he implied—had seen bombs being built in San Bernardino but said nothing. His main message was that members of the woman’s community needed to get to work being better informants, or else. When he said that his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States had “morphed” into one of “extreme vetting,” he made that sound not like a moderated policy but like the crafting of a euphemism. The only worries he may have addressed are those of the faction of his party that worries that he will not do everything possible to win, including to go as low and dirty as he can. In that capacity, Trump may have done enough in St. Louis to hang on.

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