A smattering of post-debate updates:
I wouldn’t attach much importance to the first instant polling after the debate (and I intend to pay less attention to polling for a while), but since my immediate post-debate piece raised the possibility that Thursday night’s “debate” might be the beginning of the end of the Great Trump Scare, I should note that the first post-debate poll, released over the weekend by NBC, shows Donald Trump still 10 points ahead of his nearest competitor among Republican presidential aspirants.
I recommend paying little attention to this poll, but for the record, the order of those following Trump was scrambled substantially, with Ted Cruz jumping into second place, followed by Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio.
Trump managed to continue distracting attention from any potential matter of substance by remarking Friday on CNN about Fox News personality Megyn Kelly — who annoyed him with her questions about his various boorish statements about women — that Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her whatever…”
Some unnamed crazy people, who will go to any lengths to bring disrespect upon Trump, suspected that the reference to Kelly’s “whatever” was meant as a suggestion that she was menstruating during the debate. Outraged by the suggestion, Trump went on “Meet the Press” Sunday morning and told moderator Chuck Todd that he would not apologize to Kelly because “there’s nothing to apologize for… She asked unfair questions… I apologize when I’m wrong but I haven’t been wrong.”
“Only a deviant,” Trump said, would think he was referring to blood coming out of her female parts. He explained that he was thinking of various places on Kelly’s head out of which blood might have been coming as she was asking him these unfair questions — her nose, for example, or her ears — but rather than listing all the possibilities, he kept it short by referring to them all as “her whatever.”
NBC did Trump the kindness while this exchange was playing out of showing footage of Kelly’s face during the exchange in question. To me, it appeared that she had on exactly the wide-eyed smiley face that she usually wears.
As he did during the debate itself, when Kelly asked him about various rude remarks he has made to women, Trump portrayed his statements as acts of rebellion against the kind of political correctness that is ruining America.
It’s hard to know how our discourse sinks any lower than this, but I have a sneaking fear that we may find out.
I absolutely agree that there is a shortage of straight talk from those running for office. But more talk of women’s looks or the parts of their bodies from which they bleed is not a step in the right direction.
Check the facts
Lots of excellent fact-checking sites fact-checked the candidates’ statements from the debate itself. My personal favorite was this one by the Washington Post fact-checker, Glenn Kessler. My conclusion after reading it is that we should pay little attention to claims the candidates make about the beneficial effect of their tenure until it has been vetted by the fact-checkers. And most of the time our feeling about the candidate making the original claim, after reading the analysis of the claim, is that we would not buy a used car from this candidate.
I know it’s incredibly naïve to imagine such a thing, but a candidate honestly portraying his or her record is the kind straight talk of which we do need much, much more.