Why Trump will win Monday’s debate

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Why Trump will win Monday's debate

trump-for-america-bw-and-color

By John Ruberry

I’m not an actor, I’m a movie star!“
Peter O’Toole’s Alan Swann char­ac­ter in My Favorite Year.

A cou­ple of writ­ers I usu­ally agree with, the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass and Breitbart’s Joel Pol­lak, the lat­ter unsuc­cess­fully ran for Con­gress six years ago in the Illi­nois dis­trict where I live, are pre­dict­ing a Hillary Clin­ton win in Monday’s pres­i­den­tial debate at Hof­s­tra University.

Kass and Pol­lak acknowl­edge Clinton’s exten­sive debate skills, she was a vic­to­ri­ous US Sen­ate can­di­date in 2000 and 2006 and Clin­ton came very close to win­ning the Demo­c­ra­tic nom­i­na­tion in 2008. The lat­ter con­test had numer­ous debates, includ­ing some one-​on-​one con­tests between Hillary and Barack Obama. Don­ald Trump has never par­tic­i­pated in a one-​on-​one debate.

But Amer­i­cans have heard this song before. While Kass acknowl­edges the 1960 John F. Kennedy – Richard M. Nixon debates set the stan­dard for future matchups being about style over sub­stance; Nixon was the more expe­ri­enced debater, but Kennedy, still the most telegenic pres­i­dent in Amer­i­can his­tory, emerged the vic­tor. Nixon won the sub­stance bat­tle – the com­par­a­tively few radio lis­ten­ers to the debate agreed – but the Age of Tele­vi­sion began over a decade earlier.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_90214” align=“alignleft” width=“252”]joel-pollak-marathon-pundit Blog­ger Ruberry with Joel Pol­lak in 2012[/caption]

And what is largely over­looked from the first Kennedy-​Nixon debate, which coin­ci­den­tally was held 56 years to the day ahead of Monday’s face­off, is that Nixon had some minor health issues on debate day – a knee injury suf­fered on the cam­paign trail and a sub­se­quent infec­tion ear­lier that month led to the Repub­li­can being hos­pi­tal­ized. Then Nixon con­tracted the flu. His rot­ten luck con­tin­ued when the GOPer banged that same knee on a car door as he was enter­ing the debate stu­dio. Even in black-​and-​white, Kennedy looked tan and fit dur­ing that first debate, although his bronze skin tone, rare among those of Irish descent, was prob­a­bly because he was suf­fer­ing from Addison’s dis­ease. Nixon looked pale. He was sweat­ing, and it appeared that he needed a shave.

The bet­ter debater – and iron­i­cally the health­ier man, lost the ini­tial and of course most impor­tant of the 1960 debates. Nixon had to wait eight more years to win the presidency.

Trump, at age 70, is the Ener­gizer bunny of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. The brash tee­to­taler clearly has the sta­mina to last 90 min­utes stand­ing on the debate stage. But three times this month Clin­ton, age 68, had pub­lic bouts of unhealth­i­ness that were cap­tured on video – a four-​minute long cough­ing fit, a col­lapse as her legs uncon­trol­lably wob­bled, and a Marty Feldman-​wild eyes moment.

Can Clin­ton endure 90 min­utes on her feet with no com­mer­cial breaks? Or bath­room or cough­ing breaks? While wait­ing for an oppos­ing quar­ter­back to throw an inter­cep­tion is gen­er­ally not the best tac­tic of a suc­cess­ful NFL game plan, it cer­tainly works well for the oppo­nents of the Chicago Bears since Jay Cut­ler became their QB.

As for the Age of Tele­vi­sion, and its cousin inter­net video, Trump is the mas­ter here. The bil­lion­aire real estate busi­ness­man hosted his pop­u­lar Appren­tice fran­chise for 11 years on NBC. Clin­ton, after nearly 40 years in pub­lic life, even on her increas­ingly few good days, still seems uncom­fort­able in front of TV cam­eras. Just as Nixon was, iron­i­cally. I mean this as a com­pli­ment: Trump is not a politi­cian, he’s a TV star. A skilled nego­tia­tor, Trump knows that if you get inside an oppo­nents head, you’ve hob­bled that per­son. Can Clin­ton debate the Trump on stage and the one in her head simultaneously?

Yes, Hillary can talk about details of police bet­ter than Trump. Will that matter?

[cap­tion id=“attachment_54680” align=“alignright” width=“206”]John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven John “Lee” Ruberry of the Mag­nif­i­cent Seven[/caption]

Sure Trump can blow it for him­self by mean­der­ing into an insult rant dur­ing the debate, or worse, he could offer a cruel quip if (or when?) Clin­ton shows another sign of ill health, which would prob­a­bly result in vot­ers sym­pa­thiz­ing with the Demo­c­ra­tic nominee.

Mov­ing beyond Kennedy-​Nixon, in 1980, Ronald Rea­gan – an actor by the way – appeared far more pres­i­den­tial than the pol­icy wonk incum­bent, Jimmy Carter. In 2000, Al Gore’s impe­ri­ous­ness mixed with too much wonk­ish­ness gave vot­ers the impres­sion that he had been run­ning for pres­i­dent since 1969.

Come to think of it, Hillary Clin­ton has been posi­tion­ing her­self for a pres­i­den­tial run since then too. You could not say that about George W. Bush in 2000. And of course you can’t say that about Don­ald Trump either.

Not that Trump is dumb, he isn’t. But peo­ple don’t like smar­tass know-​it-​alls.

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

trump-for-america-bw-and-color

By John Ruberry

“I’m not an actor, I’m a movie star!”
Peter O’Toole’s Alan Swann character in My Favorite Year.

A couple of writers I usually agree with, the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass and Breitbart’s Joel Pollak, the latter unsuccessfully  ran for Congress six years ago in the Illinois district where I live, are predicting a Hillary Clinton win in Monday’s presidential debate at Hofstra University.

Kass and Pollak acknowledge Clinton’s extensive debate skills, she was a victorious US Senate candidate in 2000 and 2006 and Clinton came very close to winning the Democratic nomination in 2008. The latter contest had numerous debates, including some one-on-one contests between Hillary and Barack Obama. Donald Trump has never participated in a one-on-one debate.

But Americans have heard this song before. While Kass acknowledges the 1960 John F. Kennedy–Richard M. Nixon debates set the standard for future matchups being about style over substance; Nixon was the more experienced debater, but Kennedy, still the most telegenic president in American history, emerged the victor. Nixon won the substance battle–the comparatively few radio listeners to the debate agreed–but the Age of Television began over a decade earlier.

joel-pollak-marathon-pundit
Blogger Ruberry with Joel Pollak in 2012

And what is largely overlooked from the first Kennedy-Nixon debate, which coincidentally was held 56 years to the day ahead of Monday’s faceoff, is that Nixon had some minor health issues on debate day–a knee injury suffered on the campaign trail and a subsequent infection earlier that month led to the Republican being hospitalized. Then Nixon contracted the flu. His rotten luck continued when the GOPer banged that same knee on a car door as he was entering the debate studio. Even in black-and-white, Kennedy looked tan and fit during that first debate, although his bronze skin tone, rare among those of Irish descent, was probably because he was suffering from Addison’s disease. Nixon looked pale. He was sweating, and it appeared that he needed a shave.

The better debater–and ironically the healthier man, lost the initial and of course most important of the 1960 debates. Nixon had to wait eight more years to win the presidency.

Trump, at age 70, is the Energizer bunny of the 2016 presidential campaign. The brash teetotaler clearly has the stamina to last 90 minutes standing on the debate stage.  But three times this month Clinton, age 68, had public bouts of unhealthiness that were captured on video–a four-minute long coughing fit, a collapse as her legs uncontrollably wobbled, and a Marty Feldman-wild eyes moment.

Can Clinton endure 90 minutes on her feet with no commercial breaks? Or bathroom or coughing breaks? While waiting for an opposing quarterback to throw an interception is generally not the best tactic of a successful NFL game plan, it certainly works well for the opponents of the Chicago Bears since Jay Cutler became their QB.

As for the Age of Television, and its cousin internet video, Trump is the master here. The billionaire real estate businessman hosted his popular Apprentice franchise for 11 years on NBC. Clinton, after nearly 40 years in public life, even on her increasingly few good days, still seems uncomfortable in front of TV cameras. Just as Nixon was, ironically. I mean this as a compliment: Trump is not a politician, he’s a TV star.  A skilled negotiator, Trump knows that if you get inside an opponents head, you’ve hobbled that person. Can Clinton debate the Trump on stage and the one in her head simultaneously?

Yes, Hillary can talk about details of police better than Trump. Will that matter?

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

Sure Trump can blow it for himself by meandering into an insult rant during the debate, or worse, he could offer a cruel quip if (or when?) Clinton shows another sign of ill health, which would probably result in voters sympathizing with the Democratic nominee.

Moving beyond Kennedy-Nixon, in 1980, Ronald Reagan–an actor by the way–appeared far more presidential than the policy wonk incumbent, Jimmy Carter. In 2000,  Al Gore’s imperiousness mixed with too much wonkishness gave voters the impression that he had been running for president since 1969.

Come to think of it, Hillary Clinton has been positioning herself for a presidential run since then too. You could not say that about George W. Bush in 2000. And of course you can’t say that about Donald Trump either.

Not that Trump is dumb, he isn’t. But people don’t like smartass know-it-alls.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.