The media are doing their very best to spin this,cooking the polls. But anyone who watched the debate knows that Donald Trump won a stunning and unexpected victory.
The nearest thing I can compare this to is Richard Nixon's famous Checkers speech, when he ran as Eisenhower's running mate in 1952. It involved the press, who hated Nixon with a passion, busting Nixon for a so-called 'slush fund' set up by his supporters to cover certain expenses. Lots of politicians then and now have exactly the same setup(today, they're called 'leadership PACs'). Nixon's was fairly modest and innocuous, but because it was Nixon, the press went nuts, Eisenhower pretty much left Nixon twisting in the wind and it was fully expected that Nixon's political life was over and he would be forced off the ticket.
Instead, Nixon went on national TV, leveled with the American people and made his case directly to them. The perception of Richard Nixon - and the polls - changed virtually over night, and all of a sudden there was Ike Eisenhower talking about how proud he was of his running mate and how glad he was to have him.
Don't expect the media polls to reflect this, but things have changed for Trump overnight as well. here are a few snippets and reactions...
This is Joe Scarborough and Mika on MSNBC talking about the debate. Neither are Trump fans, and I agree with both of them for a change. Scarborough is totally correct about the political impact of someone saying to Hillary's face what people have wanted to say to her for years, and Mika is totally right about the spineless nature of those Republicans who abandoned Trump over a locker room conversation.
Joe Scarborough seems to think no undecided voters were swayed, but below, Frank Luntz's focus group of undecided voters seems to contradict him:
Rudy Giuliani was predictably happy over last night's debate...
And here, gives us an interesting sidelight on how the Clintons tried to pressure the debate committee...
El Rushbo was actually astonished by how well Trump did...Trump exceeded his expectations.
unsuccessfully, I might add.
As an example of how the media is trying to spin this, here is CNN's Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer:
Ah hah hah! Trump never said he'd throw Hillary in jail. What he said is that he'd have his Attorney General appoint a special prosecutor to investigate her myriad scandals. And it's not just the e-mails and her illegal private server, or her willful and knowing destruction of evidence which had already been subpoenaed, AKA obstruction of justice. There's also the open collusion between the DOJ, the White House, the FBI, and Hillary herself in the matter. And there's also her pay to play while Secretary of State and the Clinton Foundation that deserve investigation. Mrs. Clinton's serial corruption is unique in American political life.
I acknowledge that in a way, this may be grandstanding on Trump's part because Obama would undoubtedly give Hillary a presidential pardon if Trump wins. But it needed to be said to underline for the American people exactly who Hillary Clinton is and what her record of 'public service' consists of.
A better term might be 'public servicing.'
Speaking of which, here's a CNN reporter caught on video coaching and steering their focus group:
The redoubtable Spengler sees Trump as winning what he calls the National Battle for Legitimacy:
The referee should have stopped it in the tenth. Punching at will, Donald Trump said, "Hillary used the power of her office to make $250 million. Why not put some money in? You made a lot of it while you were secretary of State? Why aren't you putting money into your own campaign? Just curious." Reeling and against the ropes, Clinton gasped that she supported ... the Second Amendment. It was a brilliant rhetorical device: under the rubric of campaign financing, Trump slipped in an allegation that Clinton corruptly enriched herself by using the power of her office for personal gain--and Clinton didn't even respond. That's a win by a knockout.
That's the decisive issue of the campaign: the corrupt machinations of a ruling elite that considers itself above the law, and the rage of the American people against the oligarchical ruling class that has pulled the ladder up behind it. Trump's bombshell below Clinton's waterline came at the end of the debate, well prepared by jabs at Clinton's erased emails and Bill's rapes. Trump used the "J" word--that is, jail. That was perhaps the evening's most important moment. This is not an election fought over competing policies but a struggle for legitimacy. A very large portion of the electorate (how large a portion we will discover next month) believes that its government is no longer legitimate, and that it has become the instrument of an entrenched rent-seeking oligarchy.
Here's the moment Spengler is talking about. Note the crowd reaction. Trump came up with a perfect encapsulation of Hillary Clinton's corruption in one terse sentence. All but the true believers know she should be wearing an orange jumpsuit right now:
John Hindraker over at Powerline, no Trump fan, saw it this way:
Some of the rats might want to consider returning to the ship. Donald Trump came through pretty well tonight, mainly because the focus was on the issues. As long as issues are being discussed, Trump wins.
The moderators came out of the box with questions about Trump’s 2005 video, which many people expected to be the centerpiece of tonight’s debate. The effort flopped, I thought. Bill and Hillary Clinton took appropriate shots. After ten or fifteen minutes the conversation moved on to the issues.
Thereafter, the moderators tried to help Hillary, and Trump appropriately complained a couple of times. But he got his licks in. As always, he was sometimes incoherent, but more often than not, he made more sense than Hillary, who was in full Nurse Ratched mode.
Happily, immigration figured prominently. Shockingly, in the first debate the moderator never mentioned the topic. Tonight, it was discussed extensively. That is a big plus for Trump. The exchanges on foreign policy were inconclusive, of course, but in general I think Trump did better. And there was even talk about Obamacare, which is great for Trump and Republicans. [...}
In short, Trump won. In my opinion, he won big. We will see whether it matters.
Is this something of a biased roundup? Well, maybe. But no more biased than what's going on at CNN,The WAPO, Memeorandum or Real Clear Politics right now. One thing I did do was to quote people who are admittedly not Trump fans but who seemed to have changed their minds after last night. And annihilate one of today's common talking points by the Clinton media, an outright lie about Trump saying he'd put Hillary in jail if he wins.