Close But No Cigar

trump mouthI cannot deny that I was disappointed at the end of the first presidential debate. Trump ought to have put her away with so many issues opened up for which there are answers aplenty. He went after her in the first half and drove her to the edge of the field but then let her back.

So let me think about this a bit more. First, the totally one-sided “moderating” really irritated. The issues that will matter, looking forward for the next four years, do not include where Obama was born or what Donald Trump shows on his tax form. These are not policy matters and do not much matter. What counts are the things that were not touched upon — Benghazi, her public email server which has allowed every foreign intelligence agency to read every email she sent, the open border that is not being sealed and would not be by Clinton, and her inveterate lying about everything large and small. These were not brought into the mix by the moderator.

Second, I think Trump is conscious of the Romney experience. Mitt Romney won the first debate, then didn’t win the election. If there is anything that Trump has shown, it is that he gets his timing right. I thought he let Clinton off the hook in a number of places which he ought to have driven an armoured column through, but didn’t. I don’t know if it was deliberate but, on purpose or not, he will be back for the second and third events. What did Hillary learn from this? Nothing that I think can help her, while Trump learned a lot.

Third, the Trump I saw was not the Trump I believe he can be. The Trump others saw for the first time was, however, someone who does not scare the horses and had as presidential a look about him as one could wish. That Trump has won every one of the online polls which asked who won the debate says something about the common expectation which he more than seems to have filled.

Fourth, Hillary’s desire to raise taxes on “the rich” and increase the minimum wage are massive disasters that would ruin the working lives of many, especially those at the bottom. Trump, on the other hand, wants to lower taxes and remove regulations on business. Hillary panders to the ignorant while Trump has a more sophisticated view of how a capitalist system works. It is not a zero-sum game in the way it is discussed by Clinton. Adding to that, his aim to re-negotiate the various trade deals, and have other nations contribute to the cost of their defence by the United States. These are the kinds of changes that really can make the American economy succeed. Nothing that Hillary says (or has ever done), makes you think she has much of an idea how things work, other than via various forms of patronage and corruption.

In all, I wish it had been more of a win for Trump. But on that very day the polls suggested the Electoral College for the first time rolled in his favour. He has until the start of November to build on what he has achieved, and there is no reason to think he cannot do what needs to be done. And there is always the possibility that the people who are voting understand that they are not selecting a debating team but the person who will lead their nation through one of the most perilous times in its history.

12 thoughts on “Close But No Cigar

  • Meniscus says:

    This presidential debate diary is great reading:


    Holt’s crowd control bias appears to have been overlooked by many. Cheering for Trump was (rightly) squashed in the beginning, while cheering for Hillary was ok at all times.

    • ianl says:

      I suppose the “debate diary” has a purpose … but I cringe in complete despair at diary comments such as: “Whats wrong with trickle down ?”

      Surely the people supposedly supportive of classic small-l economics know that “trickle down” is completely helpless, utterly defenceless, against a direct attack from the purveyors of envy. So I despair of any “supporter” who appears not to know this. Please help the other side, ok ?

    • Jody says:

      So transparent that I turned the broadcast off!! But both candidates are pretty intolerable anyway. As Ross Cameron said last night on Sky, “Trump made his fortune before entering politics; Hillary made hers afterwards”. Make of that what you will.

  • bemartin39@bigpond.com says:

    The Illuminati find it impossible to accept that Trump might actually be elected president by popular vote, just as they find it impossible to imagine how anyone could doubt that the Earth will cook to a cinder due to human induced CO2 emission. Members of this cohort in the UK exclaimed, following the Brexit vote, that they never spoke with anyone who wanted out of the EU. Of course they didn’t – they only communicate among themselves while totally deaf to the voice of the rest of society.

  • ian.macdougall says:

    (ianl, or whatever your real name is, I assure you that the following is motivated neither by malice nor envy: merely by a certain Balzacian amazement at the contemporary human condition.)

    Fourth, Hillary’s desire to raise taxes on “the rich” and increase the minimum wage are massive disasters that would ruin the working lives of many, especially those at the bottom. Trump, on the other hand….

    For many, if not most, if not all of the members of the top 10% of income distribution in many, if not most, if not all parts of the world, paying income tax has become an optional activity. The theory of trickle-down economics as I understand it says that on the domestic scene, this should create increased employment for those in the lower social strata. Though the tax-shy Trumps of the world might drive their Rolls-Royces, Cadillacs or whatever on roads that they are not paying for, and if they write off one of said vehicles by driving it at high speed into a telephone pole or public school building they are also not paying for, and consequently get driven in a ambulance to whose upkeep they likewise do not contribute, to a hospital they also do not pay for, somehow all the other stuff they order to add to their private collections makes up for it: the economy ‘grows’.
    But it is vital that those on more modest incomes foot the bill for all the above-mentioned public assets, because let’s face it: someone has to.

    From the NYT: “But another possibility she [Clinton] raised — that Mr. Trump had not been paying income taxes — set off a curious response from him that sounded a lot like an admission.
    “’That makes me smart,’ Mr. Trump said after Mrs. Clinton brought up how he had paid no taxes more than two decades ago. When she suggested that Mr. Trump was still paying no federal taxes, and had not done so for many years, Mr. Trump offered another retort: ‘It would be squandered, too, believe me.’”


    • Jody says:

      That’s all very well, but the soft left ideology of the NY Times absolutely turns me off. They have a record of bias as long as your arm. I’d never rely on that ‘news’ source.

      And the society that does not go after tax evaders – be they the Trumps of this world or the legions of tradies in Australia who manipulate the ‘cash economy’ – is not one the middle class PAYE should take seriously. I recommend a large dose of civil disobedience.

  • ian.macdougall says:

    If the NYT is on the nose for you, perhaps you might like to consider CNN, Bloomberg, Slate (ie Micro$oft) or Fortune: none of them a bunch of slogan-chanting radicals, BTW.
    Also, I am genuinely perplexed: could you let me know how you differentiate between ‘soft left’, ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’? While in my book the NYT is liberal, it is hardly to the Left of American politics. In any case, they are all on the same page regarding Trump and his taxes.


    That Fortune piece is the best of them, IMHO.

  • brian.doak@bigpond.com says:

    I am more inclined to be in full agreement with ‘ianl’ rather than ‘Ian M–‘ the latter who seems to endorse CNN and the NYT. Both these news outlets are as shamelessly biased as our ABC, SBS, SMH, and the other most ‘ala sinistra’ of all rags, ‘The Age’.

    • ian.macdougall says:

      For the record, show me a journalist, historian or commentator who claims to be ‘unbiased’ and I will show you someone who is at best naive, and at worst a cynical liar.
      I suggest that we are all selective, and our incoming information is constantly passed and checked through the filter of our own experience and ideology.
      If your preference is for some news source on the extreme ‘conservative’ right, even to the right of Murdoch and his organisation, that is your own business and all very well. If you think it is not and ipso facto cannot be, ‘biased’ then I put it to you, you are mistaken.

  • prsmith14@gmail.com says:

    Good and very timely article Steve.

    Just few facts. The top 10% of US taxpayers (i.e. that proportion of working-aged Americans who pay federal income tax at all) pay 70% of all federal income taxes. The top 1% pay 38%; the bottom 50% pay 3%.

    So-called ‘trickle-down economics’ is a confection of the liberal left. Supply-side economics emphasises reducing business taxes and regulations in order to boost business development and economic growth. In turn, this creates increased demand for labour which increases employment and wages. There is nothing trickle down about it. The improvement in the position of wage earners is part and parcel of the whole change from a sluggish to buoyant economy.

    Trump is right and Hillary is wrong. His policies have a chance of creating greater prosperity for all; hers will almost certainly cause the economy to worsen and will, as a result, entrench disadvantage.

    • denandsel@optusnet.com.au says:

      Most good leftists would much prefer ‘flood up’ poverty for the average person rather than ‘trickle down’ prosperity.

    • ian.macdougall says:

      As far as I can determine, the phrase ‘trickle-down economics’ was originated by the comedian Will Rogers.

      In recent history, the phrase has been most used by critics of supply-side economic policies, such as “Reaganomics”. David Stockman, who as Reagan’s budget director championed Reagan’s tax cuts at first, but then became critical of them, told journalist William Greider that the “supply-side economics” is the trickle-down idea: “It’s kind of hard to sell ‘trickle down,’ so the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really ‘trickle down.’ Supply-side is ‘trickle-down’ theory.” Political opponents of the Reagan administration soon seized on this language in an effort to brand the administration as caring only about the wealthy.

      An academic economist I know maintains that there is no such intellectual domain as ‘economics’ pure and simple. There is just political economy. No economic decisions or policies can be considered in the absence of their historical or political context.
      There is also a strong correlation between wealth and power. Money buys influence, perhaps best illustrated in the recent attempt by Gina Rinehart to take over Fairfax.
      And it is the other side of that coin first struck by Lord Acton. Where he said “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” he might just as well have said “wealth corrupts, and absolute wealth corrupts absolutely.”
      No less a figure than the Galilean Carpenter stressed that, though his followers have often honoured it more in the breach than in the observance.

      The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
      Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard [it], they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

      This quote came to my mind when I heard Trump in response to Clinton claimed that paying no federal income taxes on some of his returns from decades ago “makes me smart”.

      The exchange centered on an issue that has dogged Trump throughout the campaign. He has departed from roughly four decades of tradition for presidential nominees by not releasing his tax returns.


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