About Last Night: Three Observations…

I.  John Hinderaker was tough, but right:  “Some of the rats might want to consider returning to the ship.”  We are now all used to “breaking news” that tells the American people, whether in acts of God or violence, wrong things.  There’s been a tendency for cable outlets to rush to be the first to be wrong, whether it’s about body-counts or motivations.  We now have that in politics.  When “the tape” came out Friday, the shock was fairly palpable.  But many of us thought “Didn’t most of us know this was how Donald Trump talked already?” and “Okay, we made our uneasy ‘peace’ with this kind of talk a while ago.”  Still, Andy McCarthy put his finger on something, observing, “the power of a tape to make its mark on our consciousness is simply unequaled.”

Sure enough, on Saturday, the escalation and mimicry of abandoning Trump reached crescendo after crescendo.  But by the end of the day, the echo chamber appeared to begin to backfire, and seemed as if Republicans were just trying to save their own skins and races.  After all, what truly was new about Donald Trump that wasn’t true a week ago?  Those NeverTrump conservatives who questioned how those who now showed surprise over the weekend could take so long were, after all, right.

But, the abandoning of Trump was little more than political virtue signaling and it was quite obvious that those on the left who would never vote for a Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush, yet were quoting Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush on Donald Trump, should have been the last people Republicans should have been listening to for political advice, or any advice at all.  But that is the Republican pull and temptation:  “Must not look bad to Carly Simon,” the club at Martha’s Vineyard is too important, or something.  But that is the power of the left, and the weakness of conservatism–always trying to please those whose votes will never come.

Then followed the predictions that the Trump campaign was over–all before the second debate.  The rush to be the first to be wrong, again.  Peggy Noonan had an incisive column last month about the new and inexperienced pundit class, “They have seen the movie and not read the book,” she wrote.  She’s right.  But sometimes when dealing with a box-office figure, like Donald Trump, the movie is more important than the book, and that’s what the “Dump Trump” and experienced pundit class missed–only to become, again, the first to be wrong.  In a box-office election, people are watching the movie, not reading the book, because the advice in the book has failed them, and it was too boring anyway.  I would suspect that there was not one vote to harvest from Republicans who dumped Trump on Saturday, and now, after last night’s debate, I would equally suspect they all–or almost all–regret their rush to be wrong.

II.  Donald Trump won the debate handily last night.  This was not a close call.  The moderators clearly were tougher on him, and that’s twice now.  His comment to the moderators, “It’s nice— one on three,” had to strike a big part of what Americans care about, i.e., “fairness.”  Most thought he’d go in shaken from the weekend’s cascade of abandonment from within his own party, but he was hardly even stirred. He was calm–mostly, and tough, and made no major gaffes.  All the memorable lines were his–and he turned Abraham Lincoln against Hillary in a very choice moment.  He showed a reserve with that one most didn’t think he had, not even his supporters.

But that was not the most important part of the debate.  The most important part was the revelation about just how much Hillary Clinton will lie and think she can lie.  The media should be all over this, and yet, they are not.  This is an easy one, and a big one.  When Donald Trump spoke of Hillary Clinton as “there as secretary of state with the so-called line in the sand,” Hillary jumped in with “No, I wasn’t. I was gone. I hate to interrupt you, but at some point…At some point, we need to do some fact-checking here.”  The “line,” was drawn by President Obama in 2012, Clinton left office in 2013.  This is easy–and that Hillary would interrupt about her very own tenure, wrongly, and put out a faux call to fact checkers on something few would know more about than she is the most telling take-away from the debate, clearer than any argument over whether Trump supported the war in Iraq or not.  Seems Hillary has a default debate macro these days that the media have let her run with, “fact check.”  Turns out, when she says it, it’s usually a lie.

III.  It is my lasting hope that the politics of self-righteousness we all seem to live with will soon end.  Hillary Clinton’s opening statement was all about Donald Trump not being “fit to serve,” about “who he is” as a person.  Trump responded.  And hard, hitting on Hillary’s fitness.  Then Hillary went into high sanctimony with “He gets to run his campaign any way he chooses. He gets to decide what he wants to talk about. Instead of answering people’s questions, talking about our agenda, laying out the plans that we have that we think can make a better life and a better country, that’s his choice.” As if Donald Trump was the one who went personal.  Note to everyone: he was responding to her attack.  When you draw first blood, you do not get to blame your opponent for responding, or try to inoculate yourself from similar charges by being self-righteous.

In sum, “Dump Trump” is gone.  The tape from last Friday will probably not be heard about again.  And those conservatives who only read the books, or write them, really ought to listen and watch a little more.  If they did, they’d remember why Donald Trump won the nomination.  And maybe they could remember, too, that this election is, as every election should be, not about feeling good about yourself but doing good for your country.

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14 responses to “About Last Night: Three Observations…”

  1. sometimes when dealing with a box-office figure, like Donald Trump, the movie is more important than the book
    This may be my favorite line written to date about the campaign.
    Given the magnitude of Trump’s win, it is easy to overlook at how rigged, stacked and unfair the questions and moderators were to him. Numerous questions were asked about his fitness, but the same was not asked about Clinton, who committed numerous and unpunished felonies against the United States. If Trump wins, the American public’s realization of that double standard will be a large part of the reason.

  2. What’s remarkable s the the damning revelations about Hillary Clinton (and the press) coming out in the email leaks are being completely ignored, while some lewd remarks Trump made in private eleven years ago are treated as the story of the year.

    • It isn’t surprising, of course, since the revelations about the magnitude of Clinton’s corruption and criminality would have to come out via the same media. If Clinton gets elected, among her first acts likely will be to plug relatively unfiltered but minor media sources such as the ‘Net. Would we know about these WikiLeaks email but/for the ‘Net, Twitter and other social media? No. I suspect the Congress, regardless of who runs it, would be in lockstep with her.

    • If you paided attention to Bill Kristol’s Twitter feed on Friday, it’s as if Wikileaks never existed.

  3. But that is the power of the left, and the weakness of conservatism–always trying to please those whose votes will never come

    Like the Christians I knew in college in the 80s who were bent on showing the world how hip, nonjudgmental, open-minded, and savvy they were, more concerned with how not to be perceived as a mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging fundie than with loving God with heart, mind, soul and strength, witnessing to the Way and Truth, honoring their King and cooperating in His Kingdom building process.

    • The repub establishment is going the way of the Whigs and for the same reason. They find it more convenient and profitable collaborating with the dems than serving their own constituents.

  4. What specifically are the differences between the Republican party and the Democratic Party, or between the (official, paid) conservative movement and the progressive movement?.

    I remember when Obama was first elected he was described as the most radically leftist ever to occupy the White House. Since then the republican leadership in Congress has fallen over themselves to accommodate him. They’ve been vastly more respectful of Obama than they have of their own 2016 Presidential nominee. They’ve adapted Obama’s positions on some issues and tacitly gone along with him on others, even winking at his unconstitutional power grabs.

    The “conservative movement” used to be criticized as being nothing but the previous generations liberalism. These days that would be an improvement – they embody the liberalism of five years ago, or even the liberalism of 2016. Reading the “conservative” critiques of Trump and his supporters what is striking is the way it is identical in both style and in substance to what liberals did and do say about conservatives.

    The Official Conservative Movement seems to have no significant areas of disagreement at all with the progressive left. It was revealed that in a private speech Clinton promoted a world of open trade and open borders. There’s nothing there which the GOP or “Conservative Movement” would have trouble with. Clinton and the Left also believe in sun-national identity, in the importance of people identifying as black or Hispanic and so on rather than as “America”. Once again, the GOP and “Conservative Movement” are right there with them. Foreign policy? Trade? Immigration? Gun rights? Free speech? I don’t see a sliver of daylight between the two parties or between the “conservatives” and “progressives”.

    The GOP pretends, vaguely, to be more of a “Christian” party than the Democrats, but that veneer is looking increasingly see-thru.

    I’d love to see the anti-Trump “conservatives” describe their specific policy disagreements with the left, if they could. My sense is that they’d really struggle to come up with much of a list, and that the things they did list would mostly be things they’re lying about.

    • Cuckservatives are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. They are useless. And too stupid to see how the media operates.

  5. I’d like to add a few points to Seth’s great article. One thing that does not get any press it seems is what was the total context of Trump’s conversation? All we see or hear is an edited version which I think was done to do maximum damage. But how can you really know without seeing the whole tape?

    Speaking of Abraham Lincoln and Trump’s stance on the Iraqi component on the war on terror: Lincoln was opposed to the Mexican/American war, but once the fighting commenced he was totally behind our country, unlike the dems who were cowards in voting for the Iraqi resolution and then did everything in their power to defeat us. Trump had reservations against the war before the fighting commenced. Afterwards, unlike the dems, he supported the war. The dems want to make this some kind of flip flop but it’s not at all.

    Hillary lies because the anti-Trumpsters and their media poodles allow her to get away with it. As for the repub backstabbers, I recommend that Trump supporters refuse to vote for repub candidates who refuse to support Trump. The original candidates who reneged on their pledge to endorse the eventual nominee are bad enough, but the ones who feebly endorsed Trump, just waiting for a chance to desert are the worst.

    • I’ve seen the entire tape – it’s on the Internet – and if anything, it’s no more than PG yet pundits are making it XXX-rated pornography. Trump didn’t say anything middle-schoolers don’t hear at school. He and Bush (who may have leaked the tape himself) merely talked about one of Bush’s coworkers that Trump knew and said he tried to seduce then commented on the woman who was greeting him. Those who are so upset (they’re really not, they’re giggling with glee) should do a little research about Bill Clinton, LBJ and, most of all, JFK.