If Facts Matter….

I’m one of those people who has pretty much “checked out” of the day-to-day hysteria of the Presidential campaign. (I’m old, and there’s only so much I can take….). So I decided not to watch the first debate, reasoning–I think correctly–that my impressions would be irrelevant anyway.

What ultimately matters is the ensuing “conventional wisdom.”

The consensus from all the sources I’ve seen is that Hillary won pretty convincingly. I’m sure the twitter feeds of the white supremacists, and the Facebook feeds of the “deplorables” say otherwise, but reports from credible media, the prediction markets, and  TV news anchors have been pretty consistent.

One news segment was particularly telling. Frank Luntz is a longtime GOP “message mavin.” We have him to thank for the (mis)use of political language: “death tax” rather than estate tax, for example. He is also known for the focus groups he assembles; somehow, in these polarized times, he finds voters who are undecided, has them watch campaign events, and then questions them on their reactions.

The group he’d gathered for the debate was asked, on camera, who won. Five people said Trump; sixteen said Clinton. Luntz said the margin was the largest of any group he’d previously assembled.

For those of us who actually care about substance, there were a number of sites doing fact-checking. Anyone who wasn’t previously aware that Trump occasionally lies (but only when he’s talking) could scroll through the real-time corrections and compare the consistent challenges to Trump’s statements with the virtual absence of corrections to Clinton’s.

For us ordinary people who always, dutifully, did our homework, probably the most confounding element of the 90 minutes was Trump’s obvious lack of preparation–a lack that received a great deal of comment. The Orange One evidently couldn’t be bothered to study, to actually educate himself about the complexities of governance. He apparently believed he could “wing it.” Evidently, he believes Presidents can just “wing it,” too.

The real question, of course, won’t be answered until election day, and that is: how many Americans will base their votes on the best interests of the country, and how many will support an angry, delusional and demonstrably ignorant bigot who defends and deepens their resentment of a  world they find unfair and their conviction that those “others” are to blame?


  1. After getting up at 3am to watch the debate live, I’m somewhat disappointed that my favorite Professor didn’t watch it. Especially considering there were many rerun views of it available. But I do understand how you would want to avoid it. I have pretty much “checked out” of watching anything Trump until the debate. And he didn’t surprise me at all. I knew it was just a matter of time before he became unglued so I was just waiting for it. And there it was! In all of its glory. And to finish off the debate invoking Rosie O’Donnell after 10 yrs of that feud, I really question his sanity. And I noticed the sniffling right away. Ewww; what was that all about? Does he do that all of the time? I was really amazed at Hillary’s performance and that’s not really the best word for it either. Her steady composure was spot on. Her commitment to keeping him from getting to her was admirable. I am relieved to vote for her. You just don’t ‘wing’ the President of the United States and the leader of the free world.

  2. It’s important to distinguish between the aims of a war and the aims of a debate. They have different objectives. We’re in a DOMESTIC WAR. Debates have rules, wars have very few if any.

    Take Monica Lewinsky for example.

  3. Hillary was clearly the better prepared and more rational candidate in the Monday debate. Donald Trump provided the unintended comic relief.

  4. When I saw that even 4chan, a hive for the alt right/white supremacists, had declared Trump the loser….well….

  5. I did not watch the debate either.
    Yes the issue will be decided on election day, it will be decided by the number of people who get to the polls. I can’t imagine anyone not voting, but getting voters to the polls is the issue.
    Participation by voting is the one part of our democracy we must have and perhaps this election will create a new record in turn out.

  6. I believed it was apparent that Hillary won the “debate” hands down, no question, only a fool would side with Trump, but… This morning I watched the rerun of the end of Rachel Maddow’s program from last night; she explained the difference between the quick polls and actual polls which were arranged before the “debate”. I put “debate” in quotes because this was the issue of the outcome of the “actual polls”.

    Trump did more “debating” in the Webster Dictionary definition of the word…”1. a discussion or argument carried on between two teams or sides 2. a discussion of issues.”

    Per one report; Trump interrupted Hillary 29 times, she interrupted him 9 times. The fact that he was insulting, argumentative, disruptive and untruthful and Hillary reported facts in a respectful manner throughout was not considered in the “actual polls”; the definition of “debate” doesn’t include truth, facts, respect or common sense. But remember; neither does the 1st Amendment section regarding “freedom of speech”.

    Sorry you missed the entertainment, Sheila, but you didn’t need the added stress, upset and anger resulting from sitting through it.

    Sic him, Rosie!

  7. Sorry to hear that you missed the debate, Sheila. I had friends over. Lots of wine and cheeses and crackers. Much laughter. When fifteen minutes into the show Deceitful Donny started to lose it we all kicked back and watched as Hillary proceeded to drive the fool into more and more self destructive statements. She wasn’t just good… she was fantastic. Best comic debate of all time.

    As for the sniffling… my street smarts kicked right in and my thought was “cocaine”.

  8. I watched the debate for a while, and then I couldn’t take him any more and had to turn it off. I thought the difference in the candidates’ approach to leadership was pretty clear after the first question. I believe it had something to do with creating and keeping better jobs in the US or improving the economy. Clinton outlined several specific steps that we could take to insure growth – things like raising the minimum wage – and assured everyone that we we improving and that, with hard work and good choices, we would continue to improve. Trump started telling the audience who to blame for our terrible situation. (You know, China and Mexico – the usual suspects.) He repeated that Ford was leaving the US, in spite of the fact that its CEO had denied this twice (now three times.) One presented a positive, practical agenda for getting the job done, and one (between sniffles) was a negative, lying, whiny, fear-monger.

  9. I didn”t watch the debate, either. I think I already know both candidates’ positions on the issues and I’ve already made up my mind who I’m voting for. I have seen enough coverage to reinforce my beliefs.

    At latest count the interruptions were: Trump 51, Clinton 17.

    Maybe Trump was just trying to soldier on through a bad case of the sniffles. We should demand some transparency.

  10. Clinton did much better than Trump. She obfuscated where he appeared lost. The debate between the two white-privileged grifters just underscored my reasons for voting 3rd party.

    I’m not sure if the debates really matter to most. I’m reminded of the horrible performance of GWB during a debate against Kerry. In particular, the moment when GWB asked the audience “Y’all Want Some Wood”. Of course,GWB was re-elected.

    I think it’s worth mentioning I miss the days when The League of Women Voters were putting on the debates.

  11. I think he decided not to prepare because he never prepared for the Republican debate. He thought he could do exactly the same thing as before; make up his “facts” to suit his positions and get away with it. That works in Republican debates but not in real debates. He looked foolish next to Clinton. It was debate between the class valedictorian and the class bully.

  12. People have to understand that “personality dysfunction” is not something that someone is. It’s what they do and say as well as feel that makes them unsuccessful at life. Furthermore, dysfunction means that there are problems with the way they deal with people so that they do not function well personally or socially. The fact that Mr. Trump lies, has a thin skin and is stuck on a script (for starters) means that when he is faced with a challenge not under his control, you need to stand back and watch the show. In many ways, it’s actually predictable. It’s dysfunction on display. Unfortunately, he has decided to go as far as he has, propelled by many other dysfunctional people, and now you watch the show.

    I understand that the Arizona Republic newspaper, established in 1890, has never endorsed a Democrat. They just endorsed Hillary Clinton.

  13. I loved Jerry Springer’s comment that “Hillary belongs in the White House and Trump belongs on my show.”

  14. Preparation counts a lot.

    She’s prepared to be President. He’s not only not but wouldn’t be if elected.

    The con hoped to sell Don the celebrity I think inspired because the Obamas have become celebrity. He didn’t notice that they did that in addition to being President.

    He’s a joke and the best Republicans could agree on to offer up.

  15. I have a minor to moderate case of Tourettes Syndrome, and one of my tics is sniffing. I’ve had people at conventions, etc. get up and move from my area of seating in order to get away from the sniffing or throat clearing–perhaps even a few snorts. In people who do not have Tourettes such as these appear when the person is under stress. You see it in athletics who are under pressure in a tight game. Some hitters in baseball do something similar every time they are at bat. So Trump, and Hillary, were bursting with dopamine when they were debating; though Hillary was obviously dealing better with the stress. I don’t worry about their sniffing under pressure. I think more about the wisdom and thought when it comes to their reflections. Poor Donald is not able when the latter comes to play. He’d be better off if he simply had Touretts; then he could still sniff and be wise and reflective.

  16. I saw the editorial report that Trump interrupted Hillary 29 times and Hillary interrupted Trump 9 times. Was Hillary given credit for interrupting Trumps interruptions 9 times?

  17. Jim; having been subjected to Trump on and in the media for more than 20 years, this is the first I have heard of him sniffing. Looking down his nose at others is the norm but sniffing is a new tactic. He blamed it on his “defective mic”; did the mic smell bad, cause an allergic reaction or was the mic sniffing. He later complained that his mic was lower than Hillary’s mic. That must be why he bent over with his lips close to it to announce that not paying taxes means he is smart. It is my belief that he resented all of the media attention given to Hillary at the 9/11 memorial when she became ill and was diagnosed with pneumonia. He decided to try the sniffing to gain more free media publicity for his campaign and as usual he succeeded. Lord help us if he ever actually catches a cold; that “news” coverage will overshadow his “Breaking News” full media event when he DECIDED President Obama had, in fact, been born in the United States.

    I am sorry you must deal with the ignorance of others regarding your Tourett’s Syndrome; telling people I am totally deaf results in their continuing to talk, sometimes louder and other times invading my space to talk into my ear. I have had business people ask for my phone number (in writing); when I remind them I am deaf, they try to give me their phone number so I can call them. And WE are the ones considered to have a problem! Good luck!

  18. First off, it wasn’t really a debate for the presidential candidates since it excluded two. It’s a show made for viewers of television “media”. What’s the point of excluding presidential candidates who are on the ballot? The only reasoning I know is the two primary parties and the corrupted media want to marginalize third party candidates.

    Let them debate, then let the voters decide democratically to marginalize them by not voting for them.

    Until the League of Women Voters runs the debates versus the Wall Street owned media, I’ll not support the ratings circuit. It’s a scam for uninformed voters.

    I mean, why would a reality tv host/billionaire successor be as polished as a professional politician? Hillary has conned more people with her rhetoric then Trump has dollars. Do we expect him to be a polished con man? If we do, whose fault is that?

    Before we laugh at his supporters, just remember this, they had lots of candidates running for the presidential seat, and they wisely chose the one candidate NOT controlled by the establishment.

    Us liberals, cannot make the same claim. We unwisely chose the one owned by the establishment.

    So, who are the uninformed voters? 😉

  19. I would suggest that there are multiple “establishments” or as they are better known, institutions. Government is one, but in many forms from condo associations up to the United Nations. Business is another. Religion, education, charitable, health care, families are still others.

    Our choice for President will determine the direction of our national government and, as the global leader, all other national and international governments to some degree as well as all other American institutions.

    So it’s not clear to me what an establishment choice is.

    To me the choice we have is between progressive and regressive. To make progress we have to start where we are then transition to what we would rather be.

    Whoever leads is going to have to be skilled in supporting all of those institutions as they are and as they will be.

  20. Although I did very reluctantly watch the debate, I, too, have tried to the extent possible to “check out” of watching most TV news reports about the election — hard to do without completely turning the TV off and even then there’s the stuff on-line.

    As Professor Kennedy and most of you regularly follow her Blog know, facts do matter in how the real world operates. This election, however, is making clear, if the ones in the recent past already haven’t, that facts don’t matter to a very large number of U.S. citizens who will vote to elect our next President. Clearly Hillary clearly won the debate based on any reasonably unbiased standard, but the bar was — and is– set so low for Trump that anything short of his having stripped naked and having tried to attack Lester Holt — if Holt was actually on site — will be seen by Trump’s “fans” as his having won or at least tied.

    As to the media’s fact checking, many of the media reports I saw were headlined that Trump and Clinton both misrepresented facts during the debate. Only by reading the whole article would one be able to discern that Hillary’s were to a much less number and degree. So Trump gets another pass from the media.

  21. I think the people were cheated by the debate because the “debate” is supposed to give voters a view of where the candidates think we are and their visions of where they will lead us if elected. When Trump ignored the substance of the questions and went off into campaign and insult mode, he used up precious time that could and should have been devoted to the real issues of the day (wage inequality, the environment, ISIS, Putin etc.). We instead listened to his rants and self-congratulatory chatter while the debate clock ticked on. I learned nothing of his vision of where he expects to lead this country, if he himself knows. We were all cheated. There was no debate as I understand the term. He tried to wing it and it didn’t work, so we still have no idea of where this man wants to lead us. Thanks for nothing, Donald!

  22. It was fun to watch Hillary bait Trump into self-destruction. She just KEPT doing it and he never did catch on or perhaps just couldn’t control himself. He’d be such an easy mark for Vladimir Putin.

  23. If facts mattered, the linked article outlining the draft Tennessee Social Studies Standards would include Islam in its set of standards for studying World Religions. I had to read the article two times to make sure I didn’t skip a line or misread some key element.

    “In seventh grade, where studies of Islam are concentrated in current standards, the whole section of “Islamic World, 400 A.D./C.E. – 1500s” has been removed in the draft, which went online from the state Board of Education for public review and input Sept. 15.”


  24. BSH; just consider it is Tennessee, a southern state where there will still be snake-handling churches found. Texas is rewriting, or has rewritten and published, new history books with their version of the Civil War and slavery. I wonder; did they include a surprise ending in their new version?

    If facts mattered; the GOP would not be supporting Donald Trump while disagreeing with almost everything he says and many SAY they are not voting for him. They have changed the definition of the words “fact” and “support”; will they be publishing new dictionaries?

  25. One of the more amazing things: he said that not paying taxes: “…makes me smart”. As Hillary responded, “so what does that make the rest of us?” Why does this not offend his mainstream white supporters who presumably do pay their taxes?

    He also thinks he should be entitled to brownie points for not bringing up Monica Lewinsky. Why? So what if Bill had sexual contact with her? What does that have to do with Hillary, and how does that episode somehow make her unfit for Presidency? If anything, it proves that she chose to forgive and preserve her long term marriage, and that shows the quality of her judgment, the ability to weigh both sides of a question, even one so personal and hurtful, and the strength of character it takes to continue working on a troubled marriage. Trumpster is on his 3rd marriage, insults and hates women and has the delusional belief that the rest of us agree with his hatred of Rosie O’Donnell.

    Why would Giuliani think it would be OK to broach this subject and that somehow Trumpster is a gentleman for not bringing it up just because Chelsea was present? These people must really believe that running for office is just a mudslinging contest. No substance or integrity at all.

    Just like that argumentative Kellyanne, every time Trump is asked a question, he tries to turn it into an attack on some Democrat, usually Hillary or President Obama, instead of providing a substantive response or coherent plan. One other thing, why isn’t Hillary trumpeting the message that America IS great, but has problems she wants to work toward solving? The message that America needs to be made great again panders to racists who hate the fact that there is a black President. His followers also believe that somehow Trump can return America to the heady post WWII days of good union factory and blue collar jobs with lifetime security and benefits, and that he can rattle the nuclear sword and make ISIL disappear. Does he really think we’re going to just bomb the entire Middle East, or that our military aren’t very smart or haven’t been doing everything possible to stop ISIL? God only knows how many potential attacks have been averted by our military. Blaming Hillary and Obama for the creation of ISIL is ridiculous, too, but his advisers have told him that his supporters aren’t very smart, so they won’t know it’s a lie. His wealthy supporters want him to protect their tax breaks and laws that allow someone like Trump to avoid paying any federal income taxes.

    Again, what scares me is the significant number of people who support Trump, and who don’t see him for what he is: a lying, fat, bloated, unpatriotic, mysogynist, racist, tax-dodging egomaniac who only wants to be President because it is the ultimate ego trip.

  26. Trump’s followers and many still on the fence want a change in the direction of the country no matter what the consequences. They could care less about debates.

  27. Marv, what they want they’ve been pursuing for 30 years. Trump’s followers aren’t new. He’s merely their next Messiah.

  28. Trump doesn’t need to prepare for anything because Pence is going to be the “most powerful VP in history.” Trump just wants to play President and get all the trappings and pomp and circumstance while Pence runs the country. Never mind the constitution. God help us.

  29. Pete,

    I was thinking this morning who Donald Trump reminds me of…..it’s that of another famous (or is it infamous) American leader: GENERAL GEORGE CUSTER.

    Maybe those who chose to follow Donald Trump should read closely the following. Pete, I thought you would especially like this:

    “In January 1935 Selig [Hecht] published an essay in “Harper’s Monthly Magazine titled “The Uncertainty Principle and Human Behavior,” in which he suggested that Heisenberg’s work had opened physics to philosophy. [Werner] Heisenberg “apparently destroyed the pure and inevitable relations of cause and effect,” Selig wrote. The German physicist had discovered a “natural limit to knowledge” and that “there is a distinct limit to the total precision with which such an event may be described.” Uncertainty frees biological behavior from predetermination, allowing for the existence of free will, which in turn imbues mankind with godlike powers. Despite this feeling of freedom, Selig wrote, humans are still guided by an unseen hand.”

    “To his own mind, the behavior of a man seems to be free and of his own choosing, and all the accumulated moralities of the world exhort him to chose the good and to act righteously on the assumption that he is capable of free choice and action.”

    “If the free-will means that we can choose our good behavior and be rewarded for it, it means also that we can choose our EVIL BEHAVIOR and be PUNISHED for it.”

    “[All behavior] is determined by the complicated series of conditions and circumstances which enter into the composition of an event.”

    “Selig, by applying an atomic principle to the wider world, arrived at a social dictum. Man must act as if he were free to choose, while remembering that the origins of his behavior are complex and steered by FORCES LONG FORGOTTEN and NOT IMMEDIATELY UNDERSTOOD.”


    “Almighty: Courage, Resistance and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age” by Dan Zak (New York: Blue Rider Press, 2016) pp. 10-11.

    Donald Trump doesn’t have a CLUE as what has been happening below the surface of the body politic for the past thirty years in the Crusade he wants to be the Messiah. God help us ALL if he is elected.

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