Day 1350

Monday, September 26, 2016

I was nervous for Hillary all day prior to tonight's first debate.  The polls were obscenely close, way too close, and like most Dems I was freaking out with visions of a potential Trump presidency, which let's be honest is about the most terrifying self-inflicted horror story that could ever happen to this country and the world.  A Trump presidency is so unimaginable and unthinkable that throughout the day I was thinking through how Hillary was going to stop the end of the world as we know it with this one debate.  She must have felt the weight of the world on her shoulders.  How does she act like the adult on stage AND confront the boorish, bloviating bully at the podium?  How does she jab and parry attacks with a guy who gleefully insults and goes for the jugular, and yet still remain likeable and charming?  As effective as she is on the debate stage, a lot could go wrong for her, and that would have been the worst thing in the world for her campaign as the race tightens.  During Obama's first debate in 2012, for days he was hammered for his lackluster performance, sending the Dems into panic mode until the second debate, when Obama corrected the needle and delivered a strong, commanding debate performance. She needed that kind of night to shift the post-debate spin back onto all of Donald's huge personality flaws.  If she could do that, her week from hell would be long forgotten.  In this election, the candidate the media focuses on is the candidate who's losing.  These two candidates are so unlikable that staying out of the news has become a winning strategy.

Anyway, before the debate I was freaking out.  I left work a few minutes early (4:50 p.m.) but unfortunately, seemingly everyone else left work at the same time, causing a massive traffic jam on the Bay Bridge that left me stranded on a Transbay Bus for over 35 minutes.  When Alice called saying she was joining me and the Young family to watch the debate, I got off the bus and walked with her to BART.  We were packed in our car so tightly it reminded me of those YouTube videos of Tokyo subways.  We reached 12th St. City Center at 6:10, and took Uber home.  Lisa, Richard and Sophia were watching the debate on Lisa's phone on my steps with the pizza and salad I'd ordered at Star Pizza.  We walked in the door, set up dinner, turned on the TV, and once I was settled with my slice of Star Pizza and root beer, I watched the spectacle play out.

And damn, this spectacle did not disappoint.  First off, I thought Hillary looked great.  Her hair was perfect, her makeup was flawless, and her red pantsuit struck me as a good choice.  She seemed confident and commanding, and very professional.  Then there was Donald, who sounded nervous.  I'd missed the first 30 minutes, so all I initially saw was the implosion.  He was rude, lacking in focus, disrespectful to Hillary and Lester, and rattled.  The birther exchange was great.  Hillary's response was terrific.  Her breakdown of his refusal to release his taxes was also great.  His law and order response to the question of race and police certainly played to his base, but who else?  I thought Hillary dominated on optics and momentum.  I loved how she ended things, with an attack on Donald's remarks about a former Miss Universe contestant.  At the end of the debate, Hillary's family looked upbeat and happy, while Donald's family looked serious and concerned.

Then came the spin.  We were watching on PBS, so we heard from Mark Shields and David Brooks.  They both thought Donald was a disaster.  Then we went over to NBC.  Again, the focus was on Donald's bad performance.  I was loving the reaction.

Afterward, when Alice and I drove to SF, I listened to another hour's worth of debate reaction.  Across the board, the reviews for Donald were horrible (except for his surrogates and Fox News), and Hillary's reviews were lukewarm to good.  I actually thought she was terrific, given the extreme difficulty of navigating strength with likability.  I thought she gave one of the best debate performances of her career, and I've seen them all.  She was so well prepared and it showed.  She did it!  She saved the world from ending.  I think tonight is a total game changer. We'll see.

No comments:

Post a Comment