Tag Archives: presidential debate

Debate No. 1: Unwatchable

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I agree with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos’s view of the first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

It was “the worst presidential debate I’ve ever seen,” said the news anchor. Yes. It certainly was the worst one I’ve ever seen as well.

Who owns the unwatchability of this mess? Donald Trump.

The president came in spoiling for a fight. He was rude. He was the bully we all have come to know and loathe. Trump’s performance tonight was about as hideous as anything I’ve ever witnessed.

To be somewhat fair, Joe Biden didn’t rise significantly above the sh** show that Trump revealed to us. He sought to do so by looking into the camera and talking to you and me in our living rooms. Then again, he did call Trump a “clown” and told him to shut up.

Sigh …

I want to give a shout-out to Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who had the horrible task of trying to moderate this event. He tried on several occasions to tell Trump that as moderator, he was insisting that Trump adhere to the rules that his campaign agreed to along with Biden’s team.

The Trumpkin Corps no doubt will see this event differently. Fine. Go for it, folks.

For my money, Donald Trump showed us all that he remains the Bully in Chief.

Just think, we have two more of these to endure.

This ‘debate’ didn’t elevate the discussion


Of all the analyses I’ve heard and read about the second presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald J. Trump, one of them stands out.

It came from a talking head who referred to the initial 1960 debate between then-Vice President Richard Nixon and then-U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy.

It was a serious affair. No audience in the room. Just the candidates and the questioners.

The analyst suggested that there was great hope in 1960 that these events might elevate the quality of the discourse. That it would force the candidates to be civil, collegial and serious. After all, the theory went, they were being beamed into voters’ living rooms. Who wants to hear such trash talk from candidates seeking to become the head of state?

Well, so much for high expectations.

Clinton-Trump II didn’t sink to the level that many prognosticators thought it might. But it damn sure didn’t rise to anything approaching a high-minded discussion about issues.

The overarching issue, of course, was that infamous video recording of Trump talking in 2005 about how he sought to do certain disgraceful things with and to women.

All of that context managed to lower the bar to a horrible level. It made the debate seem small.

As Chuck Todd, the NBC newsman and “Meet the Press” moderator, noted: The debate didn’t do much to enhance the principle of democracy.

Clinton-Trump II: bloodletting doesn’t occur


What just happened in St. Louis?

The pre-debate analysis predicted a disaster. The pundits said Donald J. Trump was going to steer the debate into the gutter in response to that hideous video recording in which he bragged about being able to commit sexual assault on women.

That discussion occurred only briefly.

Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton seemed a bit on edge tonight.

Two big takeaways …

First, Trump, the Republican nominee for president, disagrees with his running mate Mike Pence that the United States needs to punish Russia for its continued bombing of rebels seeking to topple the Syrian government of Bashar al Assad.

Second, Trump vowed to put Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in jail over the e-mail controversy if he gets elected president. I do not believe that’s ever been stated quite like that in a debate between two major-party nominees for the presidency.

OK, maybe a third takeaway.

The sex-related rhetorical bloodbath that all those pundits said would occur … didn’t happen.

Rigged debate schedule, eh?


Do you remember when the presidential debate commission scheduled the joint appearances with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump?

Trump, the Republican nominee, bitched about the effort to keep viewership down. The commission put the debates at the same time as professional football games, which also were being televised. It became part of Trump’s mantra that the election would be “rigged.”

The audience for the first debate topped 80 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched TV events in history.

The audience for the next one, which is about to occur, well might exceed the first event.

How come? Donald Trump’s videotaped remarks about having sex with a married woman, how he wanted to grab one by her private parts and how his “star” status enabled him to have his way with women.

The reaction has been ferocious — from Republicans!

Yes indeed,, the audience for tonight will — to borrow a phrase — be h–u-u-u-g-e!


Let’s bring on Clinton and Trump again


Tim Kaine and Mike Pence are still haggling at this moment. Their vice-presidential “debate” has about another 40 minutes to go.

I am not expecting a “You’re no Jack Kennedy” moment.

So, let’s look ahead to next Sunday’s debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.

They will have to answer the questions that neither of their running mates have been able to answer.

Is this VP joint appearance going to be decisive? I am not predicting that it won’t, but these No. 2 events rarely — if ever — prove to be deal breakers or deal makers.

Clinton’s post-debate “bounce” has moved her back out to a more comfortable lead in those polls that Trump is fond of heralding — when they’ve leaned in his favor. Is there another Clinton bounce coming after the second joint appearance? That will depend if Trump shows up after actually preparing for the questions that will come his way.

I’m just hoping — as I continue to watch Sen. Kaine and Gov. Pence argue over each other — that Trump raises the issue of Bill Clinton’s marital misbehavior as some kind of disqualifier for his wife’s presidential candidacy.

I also am hoping to hear Hillary’s answer.

Yes, Hillary hits it out of the park


I have no idea what the public opinion polls are going to do in the wake of what has just ended at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

But what I saw — and I’ll admit my bias up front — is a serious manhandling of Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump by his Democratic opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Trump lost control of himself. He became, quite literally, incoherent as he talked about whether he supported or opposed the Iraq War, or about nuclear policy, or why he continued to promote the birther argument that Barack Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen.

Clinton? She was in control the entire way.

My favorite answer came to Trump’s assertion — which evaded the question from moderator Lester Holt — that Clinton lacked the “stamina” to be president. Her response was to suggest that if Trump can travel to 112 countries and subject himself to 11 hours of congressional testimony — as she had done — then he could talk about stamina.

This first encounter was testy in the extreme. My guess is that the next two of them are going to become progressively more so.

Bring out the brass knuckles.

Arnie’s death somehow overshadows that other event


I’m feeling strange this afternoon.

My intention had been to focus on tonight’s presidential joint appearance between Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Donald J. Trump.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I’m a political geek/nerd/junkie. I love this stuff. I cannot help myself.

My plan was to get myself psyched up — so to speak — for the 90-minute made-for-TV special. No commercials, too! How about that?

Then the sad news broke yesterday. Arnold Palmer died at 87 in a Pittsburgh hospital.

Arnie was gone! He was one of my all-time favorite pro athletes. I agonized with him when he lost big golf tournaments. I cheered when he won them. I loved watching him smash a golf ball with that self-taught, non-textbook style of his.

I had the pleasure of meeting him once, in 1981, at a golf tournament in Orlando, Fla. He was past his golfing prime by then. That didn’t matter to those of us gathered around the practice tee to shake his hand and get his autograph, both of which he delivered with a smile and some brief small talk.

I keep reading the tributes from his peers, his golfing descendants, the reporters who covered him.

They sadden me. In this vague, unexplainable way I always thought Arnold Palmer was indestructible.

Well, he wasn’t.

So I’m going to watch this Clinton-Trump verbal slugfest tonight. However, I’m expecting to struggle to stay focused on what these two politicians say to — and about — each other.

Sideshow dominates pre-appearance chatter


Hillary Rodham Clinton has invited Dallas billionaire Mark Cuban to Monday night’s joint appearance with Donald J. Trump.

Is that a big deal? Apparently so.

Cuban happens to detest Trump. The feeling is mutual. Cuban is backing Clinton. Cuban is a successful businessman. He owns the Dallas Mavericks pro basketball team, which happens to make a lot of money for the in-your-face, brash, loudmouthed owner.

What was Trump’s response? He reportedly considered inviting Gennifer Flowers. You remember her, right? She had an affair with Bill Clinton before Clinton became president in 1993.

Now we hear that Flowers isn’t coming to the joint appearance Monday night after all.

Oh, but Cuban will be there. Apparently his task — such as it is — will be to get under Trump’s skin just by being there on the front row, in plain sight for Trump to see.

But you know, there’s a part of me that wishes Flowers would attend this event. I almost can hear Trump make some catty reference to the former president’s misbehavior, which would give Hillary Clinton an opening to say something like:

“Perhaps I need to remind you that my husband and I worked out our difficulties and have remained in the same marriage — to each other — that we began more than 40 years ago. We still love each other very much.

“Now, tell us about your marital record, Donald.”

Looking ‘presidential’ doesn’t erase the record


The Sunday-morning news talk show chatter is full of speculation about one of the major-party candidates for president of the United States.

Will the Republican, Donald J. Trump, look “presidential” when he faces Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton in their first joint appearance Monday night?

Looking “presidential,” I feel compelled to add, does not erase the record of profoundly non-presidential moments in the campaign to date.

The endless list of insults does not vanish simply because the deliverer of those insults looks presidential.

The hideous mocking of a disabled reporter? The bizarre back-and-forth with Marco Rubio that centered on the candidates’ manhood during a Republican primary debate? Trump’s awful response to a journalist’s question about how he treats women? His stream-of-consciousness policy changes on immigration?

Whether the GOP nominee “looks presidential” during this highly anticipated event with the Democratic nominee will not wipe away the lengthy demonstrations to the contrary.

Clinton v. Trump: made for television


Americans who care about the election that will choose the next president of the United States are going to tune in to what is shaping up as the perfect made-for-television event.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump — Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, respectively — are going to face off in the first of three televised joint appearances.

I don’t know about you, but I’m intending to watch every second of it.

This might be the ballgame. Or, it might throw the whole contest into yet another cocked hat.

You know my bias already. I detest Trump. I am not enamored of Clinton. It’s a grim choice we all face. One of them, though, is going to win this election on Nov. 8.

To get there they have to prove how nimble they are. They have to show us who is better equipped to deal with the myriad challenges facing the country. This isn’t a time for cheap, easy, throwaway solutions. We need some detail here, folks.

Who between them will provide the detail and depth we ought to be seeking? Well, my money will be on Clinton.

They’ll have 90 minutes to make the case.

I remain hesitant to call this a “debate.” I’m not privy to the format established. The moderator, NBC News anchor Lester Holt, will pose the questions. The candidates will answer him. They won’t debate each other in the classic sense.

Hey, let’s not quibble. These events aren’t set up to be pristine debates. They are created to allow us — the voter — to size up both candidates.

Given the enormously unconventional nature of this election cycle, it might be unwise to suggest that a major gaffe by Trump — who’s committed untold numbers of them already — will doom his campaign. This clown has demonstrated that he’s so far been virtually bullet-proof. He fires off a stream-of-consciousness riff about an opponent that causes millions of Americans to groan in disbelief; but his supporters cheer him on, demanding more of the same.

Yes, there’ll be an audience. They’ll cheer for their candidate. Maybe they’ll boo the other one. It’s TV, folks.

It’ll be a big night in what is shaping up as one of the more bizarre elections any of us can remember.

I keep hearing about the expected huge viewership expected for this event. How does it square with the lack of enthusiasm for these major-party nominees and the incredible negative ratings that burden them both?

Whatever. I’ll be watching.

And you?