There’s an almost imperceptive shift in the presidential race not many people are talking about yet which, for me anyway, mirrors Newton’s Third Law. The Clinton camp has been playing offense lately — forcing Trump into a series of ineffective counter moves. Let’s take the presidential debates, for example. The Commission on Presidential Debates (a non-partisan entity) announced three dates for the candidates to meet, for an hour-and-a-half (commercial-free), to discuss the issues of the day. Clinton: “… bring it.” Trump: “maybe, if …”
Ignore the Trump lies about some imaginary letter (which then morphed into a phantom phone call) from the NFL concerning a potential conflict. Ignore the ignorant, fact-free insinuation that ’Clinton is trying to rig’ the schedule (they had nothing to say about dates/times). Secretary Clinton’s team, in a statement from Campaign Chair John Podesta: “We will accept the commission’s invitation and expect Donald Trump to do the same.” Trump: “I want to debate very badly (which I’m sure he will). But I have to see the conditions.”
Thankfully, politics isn’t physics — so when one body (Hillary) exerts a force on a second body (Donald), the second body doesn’t automatically or simultaneously exert a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. The Prima Donald balks each time he’s forced to share the spotlight with anyone. If you doubt that statement, I invite you to watch Agent Orange answer Governor Pence’s questions for him during their 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl. Pence’s full-time job these days, is translating Trump into English for the press.
John Podesta: “It is concerning that the Trump campaign is already engaged in shenanigans around these debates. It is not clear if he is trying to avoid debates, or merely toying with the press to create more drama.” Definitely Option B, John.
Trump: “I renegotiated the debates in the primaries, remember? They were making a fortune on them and they had us in for three and a half hours and I said that’s ridiculous.” You also had seventeen clowns aboard the bus. This time it’s 90 minutes, commercial-free — yes, or no?
John Podesta: “Our campaign is not interested in playing along with a debate about debates or bargaining around them. The only issue now is whether Donald Trump is going to show up to debate at the date, times, places and formats set by the commission last year through a bipartisan process.”
Trump: “I’m sure they’ll be open to any suggestions I have, because I think they’ll be very fair suggestions.”
Because he has “a very good brain,” and “I know words, I have the best words. I have the best, but there is no better word than stupid,” to describe Trump’s insistence on setting the agenda [and the moderator(s)] for the broadcast.
To be fair, there’s really nothing unusual about campaigns getting picky about the details — admonishment of audience members applauding a candidate’s response?; size of the pads of paper or brands of pens placed at the podium?; auditorium temperature?; distance to the closest restroom?; etc. Trump seems to think he can just start from scratch and renegotiate the whole thing. Not so fast.
For every move the Clinton camp makes, Trump says the opposite, but finds himself unequal to the task. Trump: “I’ll have to see who the moderators are. Yeah, I would say that certain moderators would be unacceptable, absolutely.” Anyone who has asked difficult questions? Fuggedaboutit. Megyn Kelly? He ran away the last time that was on his calendar.
I predict more hemming and hawing from the Trump camp, because they know these match-ups can be won or lost with a few well-chosen words; “Please proceed, governor.” But the debates should, in all likelihood, go forward as scheduled. If you want to be president the United States, this is merely a series of job interviews. It’s also one obstacle Donald Trump won’t be able to overcomb. No, that’s not a typo. Just how badly will he lose? “Bigly.”