To the unbiased viewer (of course, that’s us), NBC’s “Commander-in-Chief” face-off last night did not work.
Mrs. Clinton, facing Matt Lauer first, didn’t know when to shut down. Her answers (which we have heard so many times before) ran on and on and Lauer had to interrupt to move the program forward. Hillary was not at her best (see last October’s Democratic “first” debate when she was). Her material and approach to problems are both well-known by now. Which does say something for her consistency.
We can understand the complaints about Hillary not being a real person, insofar as she is so well-rehearsed and so often treats her listeners to what she’s rolled them with before. Frankly, we think she’s so terrified of making a mistake of any kind that she has a tendency to explain every comma and question mark until no misunderstandings exist. It’s an academic’s approach, not one belonging to a candidate for elective office who must, if he/she is to succeed, instead energize her audiences with insight and humor, and purpose, as well as facts.
In a way, Hillary is well past her “sell by” date. She’s been in the field and done the scene for thirty years. There’s not much she can tell us she hasn’t before, and she’s loathe to change what she obviously considers a winning approach. If Donald knows too little, Hillary knows too much.
Donald showed us once again he can wheel and deal with the best, even if what he says is full of make-believe, holes, and self-congratulations. His personality is, simply, bigger than Hillary’s. Bigger, in fact, than almost anyone else on the planet, which makes for interviews that may be astonishing but also inordinately unsatisfying. Remember his reply to how he learns about the world? “I watch the shows.”
His replies to questions about which he knows nothing are exculpatory, relying entirely on other people (usually unnamed but for his family). Blame for ignorance is not his. “His” generals and admirals, perhaps. His “African-American.” His attorneys (i.e., his tax forms.) The high-spot of Lauer’s efforts came when Donald pulled from his breast pocket a list “made up today” of 88 military figures, retired or on active duty, who support his candidacy. But, reminded Lauer, Hillary’s list numbers 99. Never mind, said the Donald. Hillary’s military advisors have bombed, embarrassed the nation, gotten us into trouble too often to recount.
At the end of the evening, no laurel wreath adorned the brow of Clinton or Trump. Or Lauer. Status quo ante.
The BIG piece of “breaking news” didn’t come until morning when, in answer to a question from Mike Barnacle about how former Governor Gary Johnson (a third party candidate, Libertarian, and the unrealistic hope of thousands of stranded Republicans and Democrats alike) views the quagmire of Aleppo where hundreds of thousands of refugees have been created along with surely an equal number of corpses in Assad’s Syria. Asked Governor Johnson, “What is Aleppo?”
His cluelessness stopped “Mornin’ Joe” cold.
As one or another panel member bemoaned the fact that American voters deserve better candidates, each also saw an escape route (from having to vote for Hillary) closed.
And no doubt Governor Johnson’s candidacy at the bottom of the sea.
THAT was breaking news.
Of which, to our senses, we’ve had more than enough for the season.