This old reporter never gambles on politics. If I did, I’d go broke.
But even I can’t pass up a sure thing, like Monday night’s debate. So here’s my wager: If Donald Trump doesn’t pass out, soil himself, throw up, drool or “speaketh in an unknown tongue,” most of the TV talking heads will declare him the winner.
“Trump has set his bar so low that it is remarkably easy for him to exceed expectations,” the Washington Post’s Callum Borchers wrote before the NBC-MSNBC “Commander-in-Chief Forum” where the Today Show’s Matt Lauer threw batting practice to Trump and Nolan Ryan heat to Clinton.
If Donald Trump doesn’t pass out, soil himself, throw up, drool or “speaketh in an unknown tongue,” most of the TV talking heads will declare him the winner.
Trump didn’t drop the bar, the media did, to ground-level. At the same time, the media boosted the bar for Clinton to Olympic pole-vaulter height.
“It’s hard to escape the impression that he’s being graded on a curve,” Paul Krugman wrote in The New York Times. “If he manages to read from a TelePrompter without going off script, he’s being presidential. If he seems to suggest that he wouldn’t round up all 11 million undocumented immigrants right away, he’s moving into the mainstream. And many of his multiple scandals, like what appear to be clear payoffs to state attorneys general to back off investigating Trump University, get remarkably little attention.
“Meanwhile, we have the presumption that anything Hillary Clinton does must be corrupt, most spectacularly illustrated by the increasingly bizarre coverage of the Clinton Foundation.”
Hence, all Trump has to do to get a “win” from is stay upright at the podium.
Borchers also wrote that MSNBC analyst and former George W. Bush communications director Nicolle Wallace conceded that “Trump could show up to the general election debates and be credited with strong performances by simply avoiding penis jokes and grade-school name calling. Trump's understanding of this dynamic could be one reason that, after hinting that he might boycott the debates, he agreed…to participate. Perhaps he realizes that he need not actually win to come out looking like a winner.”
The Post’s Greg Sargent wrote that “Many observers who want to see Trump defeated — your humble blogger included — have expressed hopes that the media’s first draft version of the first debate will not judge him against a phony, arbitrary, media-generated standard of ‘low expectations’ when it comes to his knowledge and temperament, which would amount to giving him credit for not being quite as ignorant, unhinged, and abusive as usual.”
I, too, hope those hopes will be realized. I’d love to lose my bet, but I wager I won’t.
Hillary Clinton could make the rafters ring with the silvery oratory of a Henry Clay or a Daniel Webster. She could nail Trump like Abraham Lincoln trapped Stephen A. Douglas at their famous Freeport debate.
No matter. Look for even the “liberal, lame stream media” to join hands with Fox News, the Trump presidential propaganda ministry-in-waiting, to give the nod to The Donald, maybe even if the denizen of Trump Tower turns into a Tower of Babel or messes on himself.
Oh, Trump and the GOP have long claimed the media sans Fox is anti-Republican and anti-conservative. The other day, I heard a Republican bigwig charge on MSNBC that most journalists favor Democrats—except Hillary Clinton. He admitted they hate her.