Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hillary won the debate. But by default.

Well, it's over. Hillary won. Whew.

But based on past winning presidential debate performances, it's not as if Hillary knocked it out of the park last night. Yes, she won. But given her opposition, especially the version of Trump that showed up, which even by his standards was weird and incoherent, did she truly dazzle us and clean his clock? I think not. And that's fine, by all means.

Last night, she simply needed to not screw-up, to avoid any unforced errors, and let Trump lose the debate on his own. She did just that, with perfect execution, saying enough taunting remarks to get under his skin, doing so without coming off as a pretentious or prodding, and successfully inciting him to be his true self -- an oafish, thin-skinned blowhard.

Yet it was not an A or even A- performance by Hillary. Sure, she knows her stuff, her answers are very credible and she is and remains poised. But she's certainly not her husband in his prime. Then again, who is or has been? Almost not a fair comparison.

But watching her performance last night made me reappraise Obama's debate performances. He's had his duds and he often could come off has stilted and even wooden, yet he's turned in many more impressive debate performances than not. And coming back against Romney, after losing the first debate, to then just smoke'em in the next two, was something to behold -- and not necessarily expected. We were scratching our heads after the first debate, wondering what was wrong with Obama, what just happened? Was he doing rope-a-dope? Not to worry, it quickly became game over, done.

We know debating is not Hillary's strong suit, I get it. And I'm not saying she was disappointing last night, not at all. In fact, she could've have screwed up with such a volatile foe and allowed him to back into a win (it's inconceivable at this point, but I suppose possible). She played great defense, not offense, but so did the 1985 Chicago Bears, worked for them.

Considering she's a weak debater, and her campaign is not particularly where it could be, perhaps we should be thankful she's up against a wealthy, bloviating Alfred E. Neuman.

But then again, it is difficult to hold onto an eel. P. T. Barnum did much with very little. If Hillary were facing a more conventional Republican opponent, one emphasizing policies and tempering the non-stop lies, she may conceivably be much farther ahead in the polls at this point.

All of that aside, the strategy for the next two debates is a no-brainer. Hillary, don't change a thing. You won this one, handily, and Trump does not know how to change. It's not as if he'll come out more muted or actually informed (!). His handlers must realize this and are simply cashing paychecks at this point. As in the OJ trial, Hillary, do NOT make him try on the glove.

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