The first presidential debate is finally upon us. It’s an event that many are saying will shatter ratings records as possibly the most anticipated debate in decades. In an election year that’s been one of the ugliest in U.S. history, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will finally be face to face.
For months I’ve said that the entire 2016 election might rest upon the first debate. With Clinton’s campaign in a bit of a down period, she needs a strong performance to showcase the fact that she’s vastly more qualified than the orange, Twitter-loving buffoon. For Trump, this will be the first debate where he can’t hide among a crowded pack of candidates like he often did during the GOP primary. As we all know, as soon as the field of GOP candidates was down to just three, that’s when Trump decided he wasn’t going to participate in any of them. Just like he skipped out on the Iowa debate when he was too scared to face Megyn Kelly.
My prediction has been that Clinton is going to run circles around him. In fact, I’ve said that I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the only debate we end up having if Trump’s performance is so poor that he realizes he doesn’t stand a chance in the next two. It’s a reality he’s been setting up for weeks with his talk about the debates being “rigged” and his constant whining about moderators being “unfair” to him, suggesting that they shouldn’t fact-check the candidates.
Listening to Trump’s rhetoric over the last several weeks, it really does seem as if he’s setting the stage to whine about “unfair moderators in the bag for Clinton” to possibly excuse a poor debate performance and use that as his reasoning for potentially refusing to participate in the next two.
However, I still can’t shake this feeling that even if Trump gets absolutely crushed by Clinton, he’ll still be declared “the winner” because the bar for him has been set so incredibly low.
This is someone who throws temper tantrums on Twitter; insults his critics by using childish words like “dopey,” “stupid” and “loser”; makes up negative nicknames for political opponents; and has repeatedly showcased that he simply doesn’t have the intellect or temperament to be president practically every day of his entire campaign.
Yet, any time he manages to do an interview, give a speech or even make it through a debate where he doesn’t act like a petulant, out-of-control man-child, that’s when the media begins heaping praise his way, saying he looked “very presidential” because he managed to make it two hours without referring to his penis or calling a woman a fat pig.
That’s just how low the standards have been set by much of the media when it comes to Donald Trump. For many to proudly declare that he looked “very presidential,” all he really has to do is make it through the first debate without acting like exactly who he is.
That’s why I do believe that as long as Trump doesn’t completely self-implode (which is still entirely possible), the narrative on Tuesday is going to be either “both candidates did well” or “Trump passes first test by looking very presidential.” As I’ve seen time and time again during the 2016 election, Clinton is held to a much higher standard than Trump. While every single email released seems to be “breaking news” — Trump’s growing ties to pro-Russian individuals and groups mostly gets ignored. While the Clinton Foundation is constantly pushed as this possible “shady international crime front,” the actual legitimate scandals linked to Trump’s charity are practically never discussed.
Even during the GOP primaries other Republicans complained about the media’s coverage of Trump, often holding him to a much different standard than any other politician.
The bar is set so low for Donald J. Trump’s behavior that many in the media will declare him the “winner” just as long as he doesn’t act like the vile, foul-tempered sexist bigot we all know he truly is.