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THERE WERE NO WINNERS 27 Sep. 2016 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

THERE WERE NO WINNERS

27 Sep. 2016

Dear Friends and Patriots,

          Who watched the debate last night between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?  Oh, that’s right, almost all of you did.  Most of you are political junkies of one degree or another.  The debate was hyped as being the Super Bowl of presidential debates, so I know it was something you’d want to watch, if for no other reason than to say, “Yeah, I watched it, too.”  The truth is, that’s the only value of the occasion; just being able to say you witnessed a historic event.

          The debate was historic.  There’s no doubt about that.  Every presidential debate is historic, so there’s nothing hyperbolic in saying it.  The important questions don’t involve its historic significance.  It’s much more instructive to ask and answer questions regarding the value of the time invested in watching the debate.

          This morning when I checked into work I greeted my office mate and asked him what he did last night.  I knew he didn’t turn his TV on.  He doesn’t watch TV, unless there’s a football game he wants to see.   Last night the Saints played the Falcons.  But, the guy’s not a Saints fan.  He said he went to bed at 8:00.   I complimented him on his wisdom.  I wish I could have gone to bed at 8:00.  Instead, I gathered with a bunch of fellow Republicans at a debate watch party.  While it’s always good to see friends and share a few moments of camaraderie, I’d have been far better off if I’d stayed home and taken a nap.  It was a night when the politically clueless were the wisest.

          The obvious question that gets asked after every debate is, “Who won?”  I heard that question kicked around in the after-debate commentary by the media yappers.  I thought it was a stupid question, with an obvious answer.  No one won.  The more pertinent question is, “Who lost?”  That’s easy – everyone who didn’t go to bed at 8:00 and watched any of the debate instead; they all lost.  I lost.  You lost.  We all lost.  As debates go, this one wasn’t one.

          I’ve watched almost every debate since the first Nixon-Kennedy debate in 1960.  I understand debates.  I’ve participated in a few.  What we saw wasn’t a debate.  It was 90 minutes of lies, obfuscations, dodges, slanders, innuendo, pontifications, and historical revisionism.  Yes, there were truths told once in a while as well.  Just not enough to make the event worthy of the time taken from us all.

          The media today is asking witnesses for their impressions.  What do they expect?  Those in the Hillary camp liked Hillary’s performance.  She did bring her A-game.  She was more disciplined and logical in her presentation.  She didn’t obviously lose her temper.  She didn’t shout with that strange staccato cadence she adopts whenever she tries to pound home some trite point no one really cares about.  No, I’d have to admit she managed to stand toe-to-toe with Donald and didn’t back down.  That’s the only polite thing I wish to say about her, which means I’m done with my Hillary comments.

          Because I’m a libertarian/conservative Republican I had hoped Donald Trump would bring his own A-game.  He didn’t.  He lacked focus.  He lacked message discipline.  He resorted at times to obvious bobbing and weaving instead of pointed counterattacks.  He was throwing darts when he had missiles at the ready, but the occasion demanded he attempt some degree of decorum.    Instead of launching nuclear-grade verbal strikes he held back.  I’m sure he didn’t want anyone to do the “Poor Hillary!” thing today, so he didn’t use his “Crooked Hillary” attribution on her, like he did “Lyin’ Ted” with Ted Cruz and “Little Marco” with Marco Rubio.  In a sense, he tried to engage in a street fight with one arm tied behind his back.   Hillary was hoping for that.  It was obvious.

          We should at this point be asking ourselves what we expected and what we want.  Did we expect polite, issues-based discourse?  Did we expect truth?  Did we expect each candidate to reveal succinct visions of the future they want for all Americans?  If so, it could be we’d have to have two different candidates.   With these two, we aren’t going to get that, so if such things are the expectation, I suppose we can just dream on.  As for what we want . . . well, what do we want?  It’s truly not enough to stop at, “Not Hillary!”  The question is posed as a positive.  Answering a positive with a negative is an obvious punt.  Do we want to make America great again?  I suspect so.  Do we want to see a restored America with a vision of the future that returns to the one of our Founders or maybe even Ronald Reagan?  I suspect that as well.   Here is our dilemma; how are our expectations and wants to be accommodated by Donald Trump.  Is that even possible?

          I’m one who finds nothing admirable in Hillary Clinton.  At her best I find her to be despicable.  At her worst I find her to be reprehensible.  I have at least 40 other negative attributes to hang on her along the continuum between her best and her worst.  But, why bother.  You all get the point.  And, that point leads me to a position of great sadness.  I’m sad because the man carrying the banner of the Republican Party has flaws so obvious that he’s doing great just to be in a toss-up race with Hillary.   He bested people who could turn her inside out in a debate, yet he can’t do the same.  His flaws are as obvious as hers.   The combination does not make for a great TV debate, unless the moderator’s own personality was such that the scenario could be contrived to illuminate positives instead of negatives.  But, that’s not what we saw.

          The moderator, Lester Holt, is a decent guy.  He’s not overtly in one political camp, though I think it’s fairly safe to assume he’s like most mainstream media folk and a Clinton supporter of some degree or another.  He lost in this debate, right along with the candidates and all of us watchers.  His reputation has to suffer.   The questions he posed were extraordinarily juvenile.  He lost control of the debate in the second minute and never regained it.  As moderators go, he was a disaster.  He came off as dim and ineffective.  And, that’s all I have to say about Mr. Holt.

          During the debate I waited to hear a spirited discussion of rights.  I wanted to hear about the abuses of free speech on campus.  I wanted to hear about Second Amendment rights.  I wanted to hear about property rights.  I wanted to hear about sovereignty.  Did they discuss those things while I dozed in my chair?  Were the discussions held regarding lofty principles so lofty they sailed right over my head?  Or, were discussions of principles avoided by all?

          I can’t dwell on this subject any longer.  It saddens me too much.  I hope it saddens you as well.  Our nation’s founding principles deserve discussion and defense, yet I perceive nothing of the sort.  It depresses me.  I want to find a bucket of ashes, dump it over my head, and walk down the middle of Main Street.

          But, hey, there’s next time, right?

In Liberty,
Steve