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The debate and a view from across the pond.

September 27, 2016

In spite of their evident distaste for debate watching after the primaries, 17 volunteer debate watchers turned up to watch the first presidential debate. One also brought two English guests.

Most watchers felt that the early rounds went to Trump, while about half said they thought Clinton scored on him in the last half.

Interestingly, the two visitors from across the pond  were very interested in and informed on the candidates. More on their reactions later.

Almost to a person, the group felt that once again, the debate moderator was going for ratings over substantive issues.

When Mr. Holt broached the birther question, comments ranged from exasperated to profane.

Among the more printable was a sarcastic, “Right you d***head, the voters really care about where the last president was born,”  to a high-fiving bet settled as to whether that question would be asked, to a tongue-in-cheek “Wow, at last!  A question on a really important matter of policy.”

Most watchers had words for Mrs. Clinton as well.  Words like plastic, smug, over-rehearsed, condescending, brittle, hateful, disagreeable and a few more that we’ll just leave out here.

Even so, most felt she scored on Trump, obviously getting under his skin several times.

One of the English visitors noted that he could sympathize with Trump, saying that “the lady does have a most irritating way about her.”

His wife commented “You almost want to turn her ’round and see if there is a panel to open to get at the clockworks.”

It’s not likely that any “undecided” voters got a lot out of all this stagecraft, but what about the people with no skin at all in this game?

The English guests said that the debate was probably going to be televised at home, but they got a lot out of seeing how we reacted to it.

During the after party they seemed particularly interested in the active use of Twitter and Facebook, wondering how we could listen and be online so much and still apparently get all the information. Having opted to leave their phones outside in the interest of good manners, they often looked at the comments over someone’s shoulder.

Ah, the watchers become the watched. A novel feeling, to say the least.

Incidentally, it wasn’t easy to get these very nice folks to open up. They felt that as guests, they should just be polite. Only after repeated assurances that everyone truly wanted to hear what they really thought did they finally warm up to the idea.

They commented that many people in England felt that ordinary Americans didn’t care or just weren’t smart enough to see through the “fog and smoke.”

Asked to elaborate they said that they thought that we tend to treat our politicians as though they were “entertainers on the telly” and vote for them accordingly.

They were quite impressed and not a little surprised that this group at least seemed to grasp the underlying issues.

(Doesn’t speak very well to our public persona, does it? Oh well, that’s our bit done for global understanding.)

The one thing that they are wholeheartedly in agreement with Mr. Trump on is his analysis of the threat of unrestrained immigration and of pandering to immigrants.

“Your country hasn’t even begun to see how bad that can get. If your Mr. Trump wins and he does nothing but stop that, he will be worth every tuppence you pay him.”

Asked what the British take on the election was, they said,

“We don’t envy you. You have a bloke with the best of intentions who just can’t seem to quite keep straight to cross the finish line, and a corrupt politician-for-life using the people as pawns in her private chess match.”

Asked if they had a prediction, both said that Clinton would win, “because she knows the most secrets about the most people.”

Asked which one they would vote for, they looked each other and said “It’s a bit of a muddle, isn’t it?”

They both commented that this process, or rather the tone of it, was very different than it was at home. One of the things that astonished them was the tabloid feel of the debate.

Their personal opinion was that the moderator “seemed quite the cheeky sort,” and that his questions showed an active attempt to cast Mr. Trump in a bad light.

OK, but what if you had to vote, based on what you just saw and heard?

” Your Mr. Trump got into this without understanding what sort of offal he was treading into and he really doesn’t seem to have the right tools to win. Still, perhaps it’s better to vote for good intentions over the opposite.”

They both opted to select the GOP nominee “because he seemed more real than she does.”

The lady giggled a bit and said “Besides, I’d love to see him address Parliament. Might wake the bloody fools up.”

Trump at the Houses of Parliament.  Now that’s a picture worth a  few thousand words.

From → op-ed

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