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Trump May Not Have Outscored Clinton, But He Still Won

Here’s my take on the debate, which I did in a piece for LifeZette.

From the article:

Hillary Clinton may have won the debate on points. But this debate was not scored on points.

Clinton was obviously better prepared. Famed for his slash and burn approach to debates, Trump was actually a bit less aggressive than Hillary, allowing her to land more blows while he missed some golden opportunities to slide in the dagger. But therein lies the reason he won the debate.
For Trump, the goal of this debate was not to put points on the board. It was to erase the mainstream media caricature that he is an irrational lunatic who is not fit for the Oval Office. And in that, he succeeded.

This debate was the incarnation of the old maxim: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” And Trump played it like he belonged on the field — which was the main thing he needed to demonstrate.

Please read the rest of the piece at LifeZette.

Trump’s Commanding Performance

There are visceral messages conveyed by presidential candidates during debates that can be as important as anything they say.

Richard Nixon was thought to have won the 1960 debates with John Kennedy by those who listened on radio. But those who witnessed Kennedy’s cool demeanor and Nixon’s sweaty visage on their TV screens felt Kennedy had won.

When Ronald Reagan during a 1980 debate demanded to be heard because “I’m paying for this microphone,” his genuine anger and ability to take control of the situation projected strength. When George H.W. Bush glanced at his watch during one of his 1992 debates with Bill Clinton, it confirmed for people the lack of interest and paucity of inspiration that helped sink him against “the man from Hope.”

Donald Trump’s wild appeal to conservatives has always transcended his positions, and during Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate the basis for this appeal was unmistakable. With every gesture, every facial expression, and every statement, Trump projected strength and decisiveness, the qualities that President Obama lacks and that Republicans will require in their next leader.

When former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush repeated his canned line about Trump not insulting his way to the nomination, Trump brushed it off with an “Oh well” smirk.

“He’s a very nice person, but we need toughness,” Trump said of Bush. “Nobody cares,” he said of Jeb’s whole campaign.

When audience members booed Trump’s proposal to track Internet activity in Syria and Iraq, an incredulous Trump faced down the audience — and won.

“I just can’t imagine somebody booing,” he said. “These are people that want to kill us, folks, and you’re — you’re objecting to us infiltrating their conversations? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”

The crowd applauded its own dressing down.

Trump attacked his questioners to their faces while feigning some pathos for Bush.

“I think it’s very sad that CNN leads Jeb Bush, Governor Bush, down a road by starting off virtually all the questions, ‘Mr. Trump this, Mister’ — I think it’s very sad,” Trump said.

Many Republicans know the country needs a pugilist to right the country. Several of the other candidates just didn’t seem to come ready to mix it up in the ring.

“This doesn’t do a thing to solve the problems,”proclaimed Carly Fiorino after Trump noted Bush was moving further away during each debate from center stage, where those polling best stand.

“Pretty soon you’re going to be off the end,” Trump quipped.

“It sounds more and more what my daughter said that in the beginning, all the fighting and arguing is not advancing us,” garbled Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Republican voters, who have put Trump at nearly 40 percent, know better. They want a fighter.

Conservatives aren’t worried about whether Trump can check every box on the Edmund Burke list of conservative bona fides. He gets important stuff, like controlling immigration, fighting terrorism and avoiding bad trade deals. Those issues resonate, and he knows it.

What conservatives know is that the country’s situation has grown so dire in so many areas that only a personality with steel, vigor, determination and even ruthlessness can possibly make things right. Getting every detail correct — but not having the stamina or forcefulness to carry out the plan — won’t cut it.

The GOP Establishment is worried about Trump not just because of what he believes, but because they think he can’t win the general election. But what they are missing is that almost everyone has fear about the future. Not just conservatives, but many Democrats, too. And Latinos. And African-Americans. And women. And every other demographic the poobahs think Trump will never appeal to.

“I will do everything in my power to beat Hillary Clinton,” Trump said Tuesday with unequivocal, unreserved sincerity and power.

Listening to it, and watching him, one could not help but believe it and think that he would find a way to make it happen.

Trump Tweets the Debate

Republican Donald Trump tried to steal the show from Democrats — at least on social media.

Before the big debate Tuesday, Trump announced that he’d be live-tweeting, and his dispatches were as anticipated by some as the big show itself.

Sure, he tweeted about the Democrats, but reading the lines, and sometimes between the lines, it’s clear that most of the tweets were about him.

That’s Trump. I mean, do you really want to read tweets about Lincoln Chafee?

Anyway, here’s a sampling:

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Key Issues the Democrats Ignored, of Course

The Democrats went on and on during Tuesday night’s presidential debate about the topics they love — bankrupting the banks, eliminating any corporation with more than 50 employees, figuring out what free stuff people aren’t yet getting, and using windmills to cool the planet.

But in their enthusiasm to take down anyone who ever made a success of themselves, they forgot to discuss many topics critical to the future of the nation. Here are a few.

National debt
From the way they talked onstage, you’d think someone owed the United States $18 trillion, rather than the reverse. Not only was there nothing in their statements about trying to rein in the debt bomb that one day will explode over the United States, they contrived several innovative ways to make it worse.

Bernie Sanders offered to expand Medicare and Social Security, even though both are well along the road to bankruptcy. Hillary Clinton wants to give more Medicare benefits to “the poorest recipients” and seeks low interest rates for student loans. Everyone seemed to favor making public colleges free, though Clinton made the agonizing choice to have students work 10 hours a week for the privilege. Sanders, presumably, would have the rich pay for it — or the Chinese.

Muslim extremism
Sure, there was some mention of the disorder in the Middle East. But everyone was too polite — or too ill-informed — to remark on what’s driving it. Muslim extremism, a term Democrats won’t even use, is spreading like a cancer throughout the region, with its acolytes establishing a caliphate, gaining a substantial beachhead in Europe, and preparing to come over to U.S. shores.

Terrorists may strike in America at any moment. But Democrats seem oblivious to the threat. Maybe they can defuse the problem by offering Islamists free in-state tuition. Or food stamps.

Tax cuts
The share of federal revenue as a percentage of GDP is exploding and soon to rise to near historic highs. Yet Sanders said he wants to tax “Wall Street” to help pay for free college and raise the taxable income limit on Social Security to help expand the program. Clinton din’t bother offering any promise of a reduced tax burden on the over-burdened middle class.

Illegal immigration
Stop illegal immigration? Forget it. All the talk was about providing illegal aliens the same or similar benefits to those of actual citizens. Clinton even wants illegals to get “in-state” tuition. She’s clearly trying to give socialist Sanders a run for his money on free stuff for everyone.

Even as the murder rate in some cities explodes, the Democrats were talking about stopping arrests and emptying jails.

“We have to do something about mass incarceration,” said Clinton.

“We can’t keep imprisoning more people” than anywhere else in the world, she said.

Martin O’Malley bragged about how he had reduced arrests in Baltimore, one of those cities where murder is up.

Well, of course there was no defending the Second Amendment on the Dem stage. Rather, there was a mass me-too effort to show support for gun control measures. Sanders acknowledged some support for the Second Amendment, but he admitted that the only reason he did so was to meet his political needs in his “rural” state of Vermont. All that would change were he president, he suggested. For her part, Clinton didn’t voice her support for gun owners — as she did in 2008.

Many Democrats are opposed to trade deals that harm manufacturing jobs. But despite all the rhetoric about the middle class and helping the downtrodden, there was not much said about trade. That’s because Democrats tend to oppose trade agreements until they win the presidency, when they begin to make trade deals. For now, it’s all deflect and distract.

This piece also appears on PoliZette.

Fiorina Wins It!

Carly Fiorina won the second Republican primary debate, continuing her rise to contender status by a display of passion, command of detail, and ability to parry attackers. By contrast, Jeb Bush once again failed to rise above the pack, perhaps leaving the high rollers who have gambled on his campaign wondering if they are betting… Continue Reading