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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Trump Do-Over Is No Better; and a few Thoughts on The Lt. Gov. Debate

Some takeaways from the Biden-Trump debate and also (I’m a glutton) the lieutenant governor’s debate which followed.

  1. I didn’t think Trump did much better than the first debate. He never could say what he’d do in the next term, so busy was he in finding enemies and boasting. No empathy, as usual. Crazy attacks. The moderator saved him from going on and on, but the frothing personality was there to behold.
  2. The problem with Trump’s performance is that the “tail” is lethal, meaning the days of correcting his wild swings and distortions. The story keeps alive the impression that nobody can trust the man who cannot stop being a liar. An example: Dr. Fauci opposed wearing masks? In fact, Fauci made those remarks when the health-care workers were desperate for PPE, so the public should hold off. Drip, drip, drip.
  3. Biden’s good moments emerged when he broke out of his word salads and landed some strong statements. “It was a mistake!” (about the crime bill that everybody favored at the time of crack cocaine epidemic). “I don’t know where he comes up with these numbers. Give me a break!” “I represent all of you!” More effective because of the contrast with Trump and with Biden’s own maundering.
  4. He stepped on his lines, but Biden’s standing up to the oil industry (no more subsidies, he meant to say) was unusual political courage, with Pennsylvania and Texas voters watching, and Trump smartly pouncing. Imagine how this moment went over with younger voters dreading climate change.
  5. The trap created for Trump was his attempt to run against Biden/Obama as an incumbent, so there was no way to defend Trump’s own record or risk any specifics about Trump’s second term. Eventually, it’s clear that Trump cannot defend his own administration or risk specific promises for the next four years. It was like his famous missing tax returns (my accountant made me do it) — Why and what is this man hiding?
  6. Trump may have been good enough, or on Republican message enough, to prevent the bottom from falling out of the GOP. Keep in mind that the nation is so polarized and tribal that even in 2016, Trump basically performed pretty much the same with voting blocs as Romney in 2012. The past is prologue.
  7. Nearly all of the applause lines of Trump in 2016 have gone missing: build the wall, America First, the forgotten voter, bring back manufacturing, bash the cities, cut taxes for the rich,throw the bums and the elitists out. Trump is still making things up as he goes along and as his buttons are pushed.
  8. Switching to the Denny Heck, Marco Liias debate for lieutenant governor. Eventually Liias emerged as a progressive populist, attacking Boeing’s absconding (calling for “a reckoning”), taxing banks, attacking Heck as too close to big interests (Heck is a successful businessman). Heck emerged as a tech-sector, pro-business politician. Since there are two Democrats in the general election, the one who gets marooned Republicans wins. Heck’s strategy will get him elected, Liias’s strategy will pay off long-term.
  9. The name I kept listening for in the Heck-Liias debate was Jay Inslee, and which lieutenant governor is all excited about working with Gov. Inslee to pull the state out of a slump. Instead both said they wouldn’t want to be elected governor and talked about how well they could work with the Legislature. Inslee? Who he?
  10. These TVW, CityClub debates are pretty dreary television. The format is a straightjacket (you have 30 seconds to respond) and the use of television reporters produces pat questions, easily swatted away. Maybe this is what it takes to get various stations to broadcast the debates, but I wish there were a few aggressive pros (Jim Brunner, David Kroman, Joel Connelly) in the mix.

David Brewster
David Brewster
David Brewster, a founding member of Post Alley, has a long career in publishing, having founded Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, and Crosscut.com. His civic ventures have been Town Hall Seattle and FolioSeattle.

Post Alley welcomes comments to our articles. Our guidelines: no personal attacks, stay on topic, add something of value to the discussion. Our editors will edit comments for clarity and to conform with our guidelines. We encourage writers to use their full names.

1 COMMENT

  1. Best line re Trump, whose script almost any of us could have written pre-debate — “ The moderator saved him from going on and on, but the frothing personality was there to behold.”

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