Hillary Clinton beats Donald Trump in the debate and the expectations game

"If you could vote for anyone" Clinton vs. Trump

“If you could vote for anyone” Clinton vs. Trump

In their first presidential debate last night, expectations were set unfairly high for Hillary Clinton and unfairly low for Donald Trump. Surprisingly, however, Clinton exceeded and Trump fell short of such expectations. In terms of substance, style and presidential temperament, the contrast between the two candidates was stark, and Clinton walked away with a decisive win. 

The presidential election now turns on bigotry

"Will Trade Racists For Refugees" jacket, Santa Cruz, CA, July 2016

“Will Trade Racists For Refugees” jacket, Santa Cruz, CA, July 2016

Last Friday, Donald Trump made a stunning announcement, wrapped in a live infomercial for him and his new hotel, that he believes President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. This was a complete flip-flop for Trump, who began his presidential campaign on the “birther” conspiracy, falsely questioning President Obama’s birthplace and his birth certificate. When did Trump change his mind? Did he always believe that Obama is a full-blooded American and just lie all along to attract right wing extremists, including white supremacists? Trump didn’t stick around to answer these and other questions from the press.

Trump’s birther announcement comes at a time when America is being racked by police killings of unarmed black citizens. Yesterday, Tulsa, Oklahoma white police officer Betty Shelby was charged with first degree manslaughter for killing a black man, Terence Crutcher, who was waiting for help after his car had become disabled. In Charlotte, North Carolina, police killed Keith Lamont Scott who was waiting for his son to leave school for the day. Protesters have taken to the streets in Charlotte, as they have done in Ferguson, Missouri and many other locations after previous police killings of black Americans. It doesn’t help that, even though the Charlotte police killing of Keith Lamont Scott was caught on one or more police videos, the police are refusing to release the video.

These events and others are overshadowing the 2016 presidential election, largely turning it into a referendum on bigotry in America.

Avoiding Donald Trump’s pigsty

Message to Clinton voters about Donald Trump

Message to Clinton voters about Donald Trump

Playwright George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying:

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.
That’s good advice for Hillary Clinton. When she climbs into the mud with Donald Trump and his supporters, she gets dirty, and they seem to like it. For example, at a New York City fundraiser on Friday, Clinton said:
You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.
There’s plenty of evidence that a portion of Trump’s supporters really are deplorable. However, the problem with these remarks (which Clinton has since walked back a bit), isn’t their truth, it’s that Clinton shouldn’t be the one making them.

U.S. political media on life support after NBC Matt Lauer forum

NBC's Matt Lauer with former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

NBC’s Matt Lauer with former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

Wednesday night’s NBC News “Commander-in-Chief Forum” has been roundly criticized. In particular, moderator Matt Lauer is taking the heat for his biased, amateurish performance. However, the NBC forum is just one of many examples of the U.S. Beltway media tipping the scales against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump in this election, and failing to do their job. One Twitter user even started the hashtag “#LaueringTheBar” to describe this trend. With the first presidential debate just days away, time is quickly running out to cure the problem.

News media recycle Clinton/Sanders playbook in Clinton/Trump race

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at unity rally in July 2016.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at unity rally in July 2016.

Hillary Clinton is in trouble.” “The race is close.” Those are the types of statements we heard from the news media during the Democratic Party primaries between Clinton and Bernie Sanders earlier this year. In truth, the Democratic primary race wasn’t that close. Clinton won by hundreds of delegates and millions of votes, and her victory arguably came as early as the New York primary on April 19, followed the next week by the Connecticut/Pennsylvania/Maryland/Delaware/Rhode Island primaries, when Sanders lost by many delegates, which he failed to gain back thereafter.

Yet the mainstream corporate media did everything they could to create an artificially close horse race between Clinton and Sanders. One key tactic the media employed was to play up phony scandals against Clinton, play down similar stories against Sanders (his illegitimate son, he and his wife’s possible financial shenanigans, his failure to show his tax returns as his campaign had repeatedly promised, etc). Now that Clinton is battling Donald Trump in the general election, the national press are doing the same thing to make for a phony horse race between them.

Playing the Clinton vs. Trump debate expectations game

Donald Trump debates Donald Trump

Donald Trump debates Donald Trump

We’re in the post-convention phase of the 2016 elections, where the next big events planned are the presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Assuming that Trump agrees to have the debates, many Democrats assume that Clinton is going to wipe the floor with Trump, and that he is simply going to embarrass himself. Such an assumption is a mistake. Instead, it’s important to recognize, and play, the debate expectations game.

The Republican Party is dead. What comes next?

Republican Party bends to Donald Trump

Republican Party bends to Donald Trump

This week may well be viewed as the week in which the Republican Party died. After Party primary voters chose Donald Trump as their presidential nominee in May, Trump this week chose Steve Bannon, the chairman of right wing website Breitbart News, as his campaign manager, effectively shunting aside Paul Manafort, an experienced GOP strategist and lobbyist. Today, Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign. While Manafort was facing a Russian influence scandal, had become a lightning rod for negative publicity and thus had to go, he was at least a mainstream Republican who deals in reality. Trump’s choice of Bannon as a replacement for Manafort pushes Trump’s presidential campaign, and thus the Republican Party, further into fake conspiracy theory territory.

Republicans abandon Donald Trump

Satirical anti-Donald Trump poster in New York CIty

Satirical anti-Donald Trump poster in New York City

The general election phase of a presidential campaign is when a party nominee, having garnered the majority of the party’s primary voter base, tries to expand that base to include “swing voters,” and even moderates from the other party. This year, however, Donald Trump, the Republican Party presidential nominee, is hemorrhaging Republicans while simultaneously failing to grow his base. As a result, the Republicans are in panic mode, with no end to the bleeding in sight.

Will Donald Trump drop out of the presidential race?

Donald Trump speaking in Cedar Rapids, IA on July 28, 2016

Donald Trump speaking in Cedar Rapids, IA on July 28, 2016

After Donald Trump‘s disastrous last couple of weeks, not just the polls but events seem to be moving quickly against him. First, it was reported that key Republicans close to Trump, such as Newt Gingrich and Rudolf Giuliani, along with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, were going to stage an “intervention” with Trump. Now, however, some Republicans, such as Gingrich and Giuliani, are saying there is no intervention. If not, it may be because Republicans are moving on to the next step. What was almost unthinkable just days ago is now the subject of open speculation: will Republicans try to force Donald Trump out of the presidential race and replace him with someone more palatable?  Is that possible? If so, how it would work? Or will Trump get fed up and just quit?

Trump’s treasonous troubles

Donald Trump on the campaign trail in March of this year.

Donald Trump on the campaign trail in March of this year.

Donald Trump is not having a good week. Trump managed to cast himself as both unpatriotic and treasonous within the space of a few days. First, Trump invited Russia to commit cyber espionage against the U.S. in order to influence the upcoming presidential election in Trump’s favor, which many have called possibly treasonous or at least a violation of the Logan Act. Then Trump attacked the Gold Star family of Captain Humayun Khan, a U.S. soldier of Muslim faith who was killed in Iraq in 2004 while protecting his troops. Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton‘s lead against Donald Trump is now growing.