What will Trump do tonight?


The debate tonight presents Donald Trump with a difficult problem, made much harder by the recent revelations of the way he treats women. Usually the second presidential debate is a less anticipated event with fewer viewers than the first because people have a sense that they no know the candidates. But the Trump revelations have fueled great anticipation about how he will react and we may see a huge audience, even larger than the record breaking first.

Trump’s rabid supporters are slavering at the thought that he will unleash vicious attacks on Hillary Clinton and personal attacks on her husband, something that did not happen in the previous two debates. So should he go the full Trump and give the usual rambling, bragging, insult-heavy performance that his followers at his rallies love? Or should he risk making them furious and instead try to impress the media commentariat with a restrained performance focused largely on policy, thus garnering the favorable reviews that Mike Pence got, even though Pence is an extremist who lied blatantly and repeatedly? The latter approach is the kind of thing that is considered appropriate for the town hall format. But if he does hold back, his rabid base will be furious, thinking that he is wimping out, a cardinal sin in their eyes.

I think that there is little doubt that he will go with the aggressive strategy despite the adverse town hall format hat is not conducive to belligerence. Even if his head (and his advisors) tell him to take the more restrained option, I don’t think he can. His whole personality is vested in being the dominant person and he is probably seething at having been put on the defensive. Furthermore his impulse control is poor even when he is reading off a teleprompter, which he has increasingly depended upon at recent events. In the debate, he will not have a script in front of him and I just cannot see him avoid wandering off into riffs where he vents his spleen.

Even with friendly crowds at town halls like this one in New Hampshire a couple of days ago before the latest scandal broke, he found it hard to stay on topic. Here, in response to a question from someone who has graduated from college but cannot get a job, he first rambles about the heat in the room, then says that under him the big companies will start making things in the US, then rambles on about Bernie Sanders for a while, and then comes back again to saying that under his presidency companies will bring back jobs. There was nothing about what he will do to ensure that happens.

Furthermore, to the extent that Trump thinks strategically at all, he has to know that he is losing and must shake up the race if he is to have a chance of getting back in it. So I expect him, despite the difficulties of the town hall format, to be hyper-aggressive. The Clinton camp is reportedly preparing for such an all-out assault, though I am at a loss as to what the best response might be. Get down and dirty with Trump and attack him back? Or take the high road, largely ignore his attacks as that of a desperate loser, and stick to issues with the occasional needling, a strategy that worked so well for her in the first debate? I think the latter would be the better course since you cannot beat Trump at the personal insult game.

Comments

  1. Devocate says

    Clinton’s plan should be to see if she can get Trump to go full rant, while she remains calm. She can then end it by saying (in essense) “see folks, as he said, his temperament is his best characteristic. By far.”

  2. sonofrojblake says

    the recent revelations of the way he treats women

    Really? There have been recent revelations? Is that really what you think happened?

    Or was there recent confirmation of what everyone already knew about how Donald Trump and basically everyone like him thinks of and treats women?

    Seriously, if you’re referring to the Billy Bush “revelations”, is this really something out of character for this man? Or anyone like him?

    Unashamed use of fame and power to seduce and sexually assault women is apparently not acceptable for presidential candidates, which is a BIG change from 1992.

  3. KG says

    sonofrojblske@2,

    Please link to the tapes showing Bill Clinton boasting about committing sexual assault. Preferably, those available before his election in 1992.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    KG@3,

    Please link to where I said he’d boasted about it.

    Who gives a shit, really, whether someone boasts about it? When I was twelve (about the age I judge Trump’s development to have stopped at) boys boasted all the time to each other in private about “how far” they’d got with girls. With very, very few exceptions, those stories were grade A bullshit. It’s funny how when Trump boasts about his wealth, his business acumen, his knowledge of this or that everyone just assumes that everything he says is bullshit, but suddenly trust him 100% and believe every word he says when he boasts of his exploits with women.

    Surely the point is whether or not they DID it. Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathy Shelton and Kathleen Willey have something to say about that. Perhaps you think that in Clinton’s case bitchez be lyin, or something?

  5. sonofrojblake says

    To be clear: I’m not for a moment saying Trump didn’t do the things he claimed he did. What’s interesting is that unless I’ve missed something, the evidence that W Clinton sexually assaulted and even raped women is the accusations made by the victims, whereas so far the evidence that Trump sexually assaulted women is crude comments from his own mouth. I’m just surprised the Democrats haven’t already wheeled out a bunch of women prepared to accuse him of doing what he said he did. You’d have to accept that such women must be in plentiful supply if his comments to Billy Bush aren’t just so much blustering bullshit.

  6. A. Noyd says

    @sonofrojblake
    You mean aside from the claims of Ivana Trump, Jill Harth, and “Jane Doe,” right?

  7. sonofrojblake says

    No, not aside from them. Those three are, in increasing order of credibility, good examples. It does seem odd that they (especially the last) are not bigger news than the tape.

  8. A. Noyd says

    @sonofrojblake
    Oh, really? Then why the hell are you saying shit like “the evidence that W Clinton sexually assaulted and even raped women is the accusations made by the victims, whereas so far the evidence that Trump sexually assaulted women is crude comments from his own mouth.” then? Because it sure sounds like you missed accusations made by Trump’s victims.

    But it’s not odd they’re not bigger news. Taking a purely mercenary view, they’re no good to Clinton because the first two have already been sufficiently dragged through the mud and the third is anonymous. Any other woman Clinton brought forward would have to be more perfect than the most perfect of all victims or she’d be torn to pieces before even ten percent of America knew her name. She’d be lucky if only her character was assassinated. Just look at what happened to Alicia Machado after Trump’s far less damning treatment of her was brought up.

    And maybe, just maybe, it’s not a tactic that Clinton favors because we’re talking about people here, and using a person like that would be wrong. Or, at the very least, it’s not something liberals would forgive her for trying. Nor would it endear her to fence sitters given how easy it is to make it look like deflection from the accusations against her hubby.

    So nah, not odd at all.

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump sniffled all night again. He should either see a doctor or stop doing cocaine.

  10. sonofrojblake says

    @A.Noyd, 8:
    Nice editing. You deliberately had to snip out the bit where I explicitly said “unless I’ve missed something”. I missed those three, bang to rights (although I had heard Ivana’s allegation. And her retraction.). I also said they’re all good examples, although you appear to disagree. Given his apparent character and history though, there should be folders full of women who’ve been assaulted by him. At least some of them must be close enough to perfect. I have to assume their revelation is only a matter of time, unless Clinton does indeed have the streak of conscience or pragmatism you allude to in your penultimate paragraph.

  11. A. Noyd says

    @sonofrojblake

    You deliberately had to snip out the bit where I explicitly said “unless I’ve missed something”.

    Or, gee, maybe it seemed irrelevant because your “No, not aside from them” reply conveyed absolutely nothing about you actually having missed those.

    For the record, I do think those women are good examples of how Trump’s words are far more than words. Because I believe them. I don’t think they’re good examples for convincing most other people of that. Because we live in a rape culture where sexual assault victims have to jump through five million hoops to land even a single a speck of dirt on a powerful man.

    Consider that those stories have been out there for a while now. It still took Trump’s own words to get his party to turn on him. At this point, it could actually help the Republicans if the current he-said was replaced by a he-said/she-said because then there would be a target besides Trump. They could generate doubt about the she-said part 24/7 till the election.

  12. KG says

    Please link to where I said he’d boasted about it. – sonofrojblake@4

    You said @2:

    Unashamed use of fame and power to seduce and sexually assault women is apparently not acceptable for presidential candidates, which is a BIG change from 1992.

    This implies, at the very least, that (a) Clinton was “unashamed” about his use of fame and power to seduce and sexually assault women, and (b) that this was public knowledge before he was elected in 1992. How could that be the case unless he had boasted about it (merely admitting it, if he’d done that, would not have shown that he was unashamed of it) in some undeniable source available to the public – such as a tape?

    You continue your practice of claiming you don’t support Trump, while continually praising his strategy as a candidate – which has in itself been immensely harmful, even if he fails to be elected, as looks increasingly likely – and indeed adopting those strategies yourself – here, “Well, Bill Clinton is worse”. You should not be surprised if people doubt your good faith.

  13. KG says

    Surely the point is whether or not they DID it. Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathy Shelton and Kathleen Willey have something to say about that. Perhaps you think that in Clinton’s case bitchez be lyin, or something? – sonofrojblake@4

    I thought I’d deal with this completely unfounded and disgustingly scummy accusation from you separately.

    I think it overwhelmingly likely that Bill Clinton is indeed a rapist. But that was not the point at issue, just as it is not the point at issue in the Presidential election because Bill Clinton is not a candidate, and you are following Trump’s lead yet again in using him as a deflection. I responded to your claim that:

    unashamed use of fame and power to seduce and sexually assault women is apparently not acceptable for presidential candidates, which is a BIG change from 1992.

    There, you were not talking about “whether or not they DID it”. You were implying that the allegations of rape and other sexual assault against Bill Clinton were part of public discourse before his election in 1992, in the same way that Trump’s boasts about committing sexual assault are now. This claim you have completely failed to substantiate – because you can’t – and have resorted to changing the subject to Bill Clinton’s crimes – again, just like Trump.

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