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Hillary in Pittsburgh and about those Debates

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John Fetterman upstaged by daughter Gracie on Saturday at the Stronger Together rally in Pittsburgh

Hillary came to Pittsburgh on Saturday with Tim Kaine on their Stronger Together bus tour. So I went.

Note to those of you who get invited to future such events: If they say the doors open at 2:15pm, make sure to get in line at 11am. The line stretched from the convention center, down the block, and wrapped around the block. I stood in line for 2 hours before I got in the door. Then, I didn’t get a seat. It was standing room only. We were one of the last groups to get in. There were 2000 people who didn’t.

The Trump supporters were limited to a few cars full of “Women for Trump” and about 20 protestors holding signs annnnnnd that’s about it. Not a whole lot of STrumpets in Pittsburgh and the line for the Clinton rally dwarfed the one I saw for Trump a couple of months ago.

It took another two hours for the bus to arrive. Those of us who had been on our feet all that time sat down and played heads up or found outlets to charge our phones and tablets. But no one lost their temper. It was a pretty family friendly atmosphere.

In the leadup, we heard from locals like Mark Cuban and Mike Doyle. But the biggest applause was saved for John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, PA who ran for Senate. He was a Bernie supporter and truly a change agent. The dude is like 6’9″, wears, well, apparently whatever fits, and still managed to get about 20% of the primary vote. How did that happen?! It was an amazing feat for a guy who otherwise didn’t seem to have a chance. So, he was Mr. Popularity before the bus arrived. His little girl Grace stole the show holding up a sign and leading the chant, “Hill-a-ry, Hill-a-ry!”. Perfect timing. She upstaged her dad, which is pretty hard to do.

Hillary and Kaine arrived about 40 minutes later. The crowd went wild. Kaine did his Trump impression again.It was just as bad, in a charming, attention getting way. I really like him. And then Hillary took over, dressed in red and completely at ease. That was the most surprising part of the whole evening. She didn’t sound scripted, her voice didn’t have that harsh, staccato cadence. She was more relaxed, confident, spontaneous. Maybe all she needed was to get the nomination.

She talked about her first 100 days. It’s going to focus on infrastructure. And she made particular mention of improving broadband and expanding it to rural areas. She also said that she wasn’t going to govern exclusively from the Oval Office. She’s going to be on the move during her presidency. Now, I think I understand why she picked Kaine. She needs a strong, competent presence in DC while she has a strong competent presence on the road. This is going to be a different kind of presidency. If you want change, you’re going to get it.

One thing really stood out: she barely mentioned Donald Trump and I can’t recall that she ever specifically said his name. There were only a couple of references to him. Very interesting.

You know who else she barely mentioned? Obama. Sorry about that, Heather. Pittsburgh bleeds Democrat, we’re definitely and proudly a diverse city and yet hardly a peep about Obama. Maybe she wants to distinguish herself as a change agent. Of course, she wouldn’t have to make quite such a distinction if he was as wildly, maniacally popular as some Democrats think. Something to think about.

Then it was over about an hour after it began. I beat a hasty retreat. The venue was claustrophobic, warm and we all should have used a lot more deodorant.

But definitely worth the wait if you get an invitation from your local Democratic party.

*****************************************************************

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo shares my views about the debates. If you’ve been paying attention, you can probably predict what Trump is going to do next in any scenario. The Washington Post definitely has Trump’s number. It looks like the NYTimes is getting a clue too. They will find the next 99 days extremely entertaining. {{smirk}}

But back to the debates. Trump has two choices: 1.) Try to get out of them. He’s already trying to do this. or 2.) have his supporters disrupt Clinton whenever she speaks. He could do this personally as well but I’m guessing he’ll just bring in some rowdy dudes who will behave extraordinarily badly.

Josh writes along these lines in How and Why Trump will Try to Ditch the Debates:

The requirement is simple: get out of the debates, make them not happen without seeming to be the one who’s running away or tanking them. Here’s how. I suspect Trump will start claiming that that the process is “rigged” because Gary Johnson and Jill Stein aren’t included. For better or worse (I think better), the debate commission rules are crystal clear: You need to hit 15% support in a certain number of major polls to be included. It’s highly unlikely Johnson will meet that threshold; it’s almost impossible that Stein will. Inclusion over exclusion has an inherent logic to it even if it’s obviously self-serving and not appropriate in this case. So I think Trump will find this a comfortable position from which to attack the debates themselves.

Trump does better in multi-person debates than one-on-ones. They’re much less debates in any real sense. They’re more like parallel taunt contests. The multi-person format also makes it easier to avoid policy detail. What’s more, Stein would certainly work with Trump in tag-teaming Hillary Clinton, putting her under fire from both the left and right. Johnson’s role is more uncertain. He less of an attack dog by temperament. And who he’d have more interest in attacking is less clear than it might seem. I’m sure Clinton would weather such a debate. But it’s clearly a less attractive option for her that a one on one with Trump.

What’s more, agreeing to such a debate in contravention of the debate commission rules and at Trump’s demand would show her giving into to Trump’s bullying, which would be extremely damaging quite apart from whether two person or four person debates are better in the abstract.

There is no possible way in Hell that Trump could win a substantive debate against Clinton. She is so good and chewed Obama up so badly in PA in 2008 that he had to slink off to North Carolina the next day to bluster and strut and nurse his wounds with his “dirt off my shoulder” routine. Yeah, Trump doesn’t stand a chance. She will make mincemeat of him. It will be yumiliating. He can’t have that. So, don’t expect to see him going mano-a-mano with his tiny little hands against Hillary without a lot of kicking and screaming.

It’s the last thing in the world he wants to do.

 

 

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What question would you like to ask the candidates?

The live blog post will go off at 5 minutes before debate time.  So, while we wait, let’s talk about what we would ask the candidates.

Here are some of mine:

1.) *Are* women equal to men?  If not, why not?

2.) The idea that we should all work or start our own businesses has been pushed very hard in the last couple of years.  For those of us in professions with extremely high start up costs and low probability of success but require long term investment, what small business initiatives would you recommend that would help us keep our families fed and housed while we do the back breaking work of curing cancer?  I mean, that wouldn’t require heroic, patriotic self-sacrifice and wouldn’t import the exploitative work environments that discourage innovation as we have witnessed in India and China?  If Americans are so hard working and productive, why can’t we insist on a decent return on our productivity?

3.)  Referring to question 2, withdrawal from one’s 401K usually incurs a 10% excise tax in addition to income taxes.  Given that many laid off workers can not start a business without start up funds, why are the unemployed still penalized for withdrawing funds from their 401Ks to start a business?  Additionally, why are we charging an excise tax at all on these funds?  Although they are meant for retirement, the economy is in need of stimulus money that these funds can provide.  Who are we protecting here, the unemployed or the financial market?

4.) What are you planning to do to make the corporations and financiers get off the ungodly piles of cash they’ve been sitting on in the past 4 years?  Please be specific.

Those are  just off the top of my head.

Tomorrow’s Headlines

Summarize the debate in one sentence.

RD:  “Hillary Battles for Dem Nomination with Incoherent Token Male”

MABlue had several:

  • “Was This Combat Fair?”
  • “Now Hillary is Displaying her Depth and Breadth: Is there anything she won’t do to get elected?”
  • “How Hillary Clinton Destroyed The Democratic Party By Purposefully Knowing More Stuff Than Barack Obama”
  • “How Hillary Destroyed The Thrill Before It Got Up Matthews’ Nuts”
  • “Who Put That Usurper On The Stage?”

Go!

I’d like to thank the WGA for going on strike

If it hadn’t been for so many people having nothing better to watch on TV, many of them wouldn’t be watching the debates. I walked into my local Starbucks yesterday and people noted my Hillary Clinton campaign button leftover from a couple weeks ago. I could hear snippets of conversation swirling around of a political nature. I accidentally took someone elses tall caramel latte and was really embarrassed but the young woman whose drink it was said, “That’s OK, I forgive you. At least you’re not voting for McCain.”

This is a very red suburb where there isn’t a single Democrat on the Township committee. About 4500 people voted in the precincts in our town just for the Democrats and Hillary edged out Obama by about 100 votes. People are paying attention, ready to work together and motivated. And for that, I would like to thank the WGA.

Now, get back to work on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report before I start to lose my patience!