Hillary Clinton is a wonk, first and foremost. She has deep knowledge, deep experience, and deep understanding of government, how it works, how to run it, how to answer the questions the debate moderators will ask. They aren’t going to be lobbing softballs. She’s going to be swinging for the fences. She has the knowledge to hit hardball questions out of the park. This is a huge advantage for her over Trump.
Clinton is a good debater. Debates are a good format for her. She has long experience with debating. She has been debating since she was a “Goldwater Girl” in high school. She knows how to make succinct, coherent, cohesive arguments. She can stick to time limits. She can stay on message. She can refute her opponent without losing track of what she is saying herself. Most importantly, she won’t lose her cool, talk over the moderator, or act like an entitled fool. We all recall, how Mitt Romney made himself look 4 years ago and the criticism he subsequently took for it. Clinton won’t make a similar blunder. She won’t let Lester Holt run over her, for sure, but she will be polite, civilized, and she won’t talk over him and make herself look bad.
Where Clinton could Bunt, Walk, or Strike Out
Many experienced debaters groan at the prospect of a Gish Gallop. Donald J. Trump is a walking, talking, jumbo orange Gish Gallop. The fact checkers tell us, that when Trump’s mouth is open and sound is coming out, 70% of the time, he is lying. He lies. He lies about lying. Then he lies to cover up his lying. Prevarication on this scale can’t be refuted in a debate format. All Clinton can do is shake her head, look compassionate, and say, “Oh, Mr. Trump, lying again?” And move along with her own message. After saying this enough times, perhaps the American public will get the idea that Mr. “Straight Shooter “Trump is nothing of the sort.
Let’s put it out there right up front: double standards exist. They are bad, wrong, and they stink like twenty-day-old lobster bait left in the sun on a sidewalk in New York City. It would be completely awesome if women and men were judged on the same sliding-scale. They aren’t. Hillary Clinton. Must. Be. Sympathetic. Appealing. Charming. She can do this. She is intelligent, warm, funny, and a genuine person–so say the people who know her best. This doesn’t come out on the stump, or when she speaks publicly. Like many geeky, wonky, nerdy women, Clinton isn’t very loose when on display. She. Must. Be.
On the subject of double standards that stink: for crissakes, wear something that looks good! The debate stage is not a place that demands a bulletproof vest–Clinton’s appallingly ugly, bulky, adds-40-lbs outfits almost always cover a bulletproof vest. Clinton is in excellent physical shape. She has the budget to wear the sharpest pantsuits on the planet. I’d like to see Ellen Degeneres’ dresser sneak into Hillary Clinton’s closet and give her a make over. Clinton could rock her pantsuits and look bangin’ doing it. Would this matter if she were a man? Actually, yes. We expect male candidates to look pretty sharp on the debate stage as well. To the same level as what social normals demand of women? No way! Suffice to say, within her “personal style,” Hillary Clinton could wear great clothes on that stage and put the haters to shame. There would be nothing wrong with that. There is nothing that says that a person of substance can’t also have fantastic style.
The final thing that Hillary Clinton needs to watch for in the debate is something that she’s been needing to do for thirty years. For thirty years, Clinton has been defined by her detractors: by the New York Times rancid, muck-raking coverage (4 to 1, Clinton scandals to Trump scandals), by the Republican noise machine, by the right wing press and blogosphere. In the first of several debates, Hillary Clinton has yet another chance to define herself for the American people. She can define herself as the person who knows how to govern, and how the governments works, as the woman who will govern with wisdom and compassion, but also with vigor and determination. She can to inspire Americans to believe that not only does America not have to be made “great again,” America is Already Great. America is already great for exactly the reasons that you should vote for Hillary Clinton, and that the future Donald J. Trump sees will make America less great and diminish us all. This is her true challenge and true goal.