There you go again…
After performing so magnificently in the first presidential debate against Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University on Monday night, Donald Trump has once again reached out to his supporters to solicit their advice on how he should tackle the upcoming second debate at Washington University in St. Louis.
Among the searingly introspective questions the Trump campaign is asking this time:
4. Should Trump lay out how his business, private-sector experience will directly benefit the economy?
Well, what else has he got to run on? If not a highly polished and idealised version of his track record in business, on what possible grounds is Trump even running for office?
6. On the subject of Hillary’s emails, should Trump have brought up the fact that Hillary jeopardized our national security?
This is actually a good question. From a purely tactical perspective, Trump utterly failed to properly go after Clinton on any of her biggest perceived weaknesses – her private email server, the Benghazi attacks, the Clinton Foundation and her secrecy over her health – despite being gifted golden opportunities to do so.
9. Should Trump have called out Hillary’s massive Wall Street fundraising and the paid speeches that she refuses to release to the public?
Again, another legitimate point of concern left totally unaddressed by Trump in the first debate, so busy was he exhorting viewers to “call up Sean Hannity” to supposedly get confirmation that Donald Trump was against the Iraq war from the beginning, honest.
12. Should Trump double down on the need to rebuild our infrastructure, and draw on his own experience in construction to get the job done?
Because clearly experience in building gaudy hotels and phallic skyscrapers translates directly to updating the electoral grid, building roads, bridges and airports.
20. Should Trump attack Hillary for referring to tens of millions of American men and women as “deplorables”?
Why the hell not? Soaking in victimhood is probably his best and only shot, at this point.
22. Should Trump point to his history of employing thousands of Americans as evidence of his firsthand experience and ability to create jobs?
While there might normally be some kind of link between that most hallowed of Republican deities, “job creators“, and an understanding how to create the conditions in which economic growth and job creation (frustratingly no longer as intertwined as they once were), in Trump’s case this is far less certain. Trump advocates protectionism on a major scale, which is likely to raise prices – and lower living standards – for all consumers.
27. Should Trump paint Hillary as the epitome of D.C. corruption and the close relationship between lobbyists and politicians?
Maybe if Donald Trump didn’t have a track record of making political donations to carefully selected state attorneys general in an effort to squelch legal actions against him then this might have been a sensible approach. But sadly he does have such a record, so even whispering the word “corruption” is likely to provoke a devastating rebuttal from Hillary Clinton.
A different Republican candidate – someone like John Kasich or Ted Cruz – could likely have made the corruption argument stick, to potentially devastating effect. Donald Trump, however, will almost certainly see the corruption grenade explode in his hand if he even tries to throw it at the next debate.
My advice – not that I remotely wish Donald Trump to follow it – would be far more straightforward than this self-aggrandising survey, and encapsulated in these three points:
- Take the time to actually do some policy research. In the first debate, Hillary Clinton came armed with facts and figures to back up her remarks. It wouldn’t hurt to do the same.
- When you are caught out in an obvious lie (like your nonexistent brave and principled opposition to the Iraq War), just be grateful when the moderator doesn’t haul you up on it even harder. Don’t spend the next five minutes angrily rebutting the plain truth, you are simply writing the Huffington Post’s next day headlines for them.
- Stop shouting about how great your temperament is. Even your ardent supporters know deep down that your temperament is, uh, not your chief selling point.
But since Donald Trump is congenitally incapable of receiving negative feedback (or even constructive criticism) it is probably a safe bet that we will see exactly the same ill-prepared, thin-skinned brute that showed up for the first debate.
Donald Trump could still lose the debates and go on to win the presidency – particularly in the current highly charged climate, where every time he falls flat on his face or gets caught in an obvious lie is interpreted by his supporters as only more evidence of an all-pervasive anti-Trump conspiracy.
But if there was any doubt left – and at this point there really shouldn’t be – then Trump’s proven inability to remain calm and remotely serious for even half of a ninety minute debate shows that however much one may dislike Hillary Clinton, she remains the only viable choice in this election.
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