Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rope A Dope

Okay, Hillary supporters, you can exhale now. She won the debate. No, she didn’t put Donald Trump away, but she did what she had to do: make the case for why she is ready to be commander in chief and, more importantly, make the case for why he isn’t. It took Clinton all of 12 minutes to get under Trump’s skin and once she did, the old Donald just couldn’t help himself. Not only did he take the bait, he swallowed it down willingly, like a child feasting on chocolate chip cookies.

What you saw out there were two candidates: one who was thoroughly prepared to debate and the other who wasn’t, and it showed. Team Clinton was determined this was not going to be a repeat of the Denver fiasco of 2012. Trump tried to roll out Dr. Jekyll; instead Clinton forced Mr. Hyde out of hiding. The only strong moment for Trump came when he hammered her on NAFTA and TPP, but in true form, he wasn’t able to sustain the attack; instead he spent much of the evening being on the defensive.

And that was by design. It was clear from the onset, Clinton wanted to set the tempo and she did. In fact, so effective was she that Trump, apart from the trade segment, never got any momentum going. In fact, as the debate wore on he seem to fade. His responses to questions about his birtherism claims, his refusal to release his taxes and his denial about his support for the Iraq War were not only ineffective, they seemed at times downright incoherent. And for someone who has spent the last few months questioning Clinton’s stamina, it was Trump who looked like he could’ve used a nap.

Clinton's biggest accomplishment last night was not allowing Trump to come off looking presidential, or to even come close. As I mentioned in my last piece, the bar was set so low for him that just stepping over it would’ve gotten him brownie points. Well last night he tripped over that bar, courtesy of a little shove by Clinton. And while I don’t think he lost any of his faithful minions, he failed to grow his base. She, on the other hand, was appealing to those suburban white women who were already apprehensive about Trump to begin with but not yet sold on her. Last night was her chance to say to them, “I’m not making this up, he really IS this ignorant.”

Howard Fineman called his performance "the worst ever in modern times." That might be a little bit of a stretch. I've seen quite a few doozies in my lifetime, but most of those debates were otherwise credible performances marred by critical errors. After the first 15 minutes, Trump started going downhill fast. He didn't so much implode as dissolve. If ever there was a case of Attention Deficit Disorder, this was it. I swear the man has Turrets Syndrome; I'll stake my life on it.

So now for the 64 thousand dollar question. Did she move the needle? In a word, yes. Maybe not - forgive the pun - bigly, but in a race that's this tight, even a two-point bump in the polls could be critical. Let’s not forget she’s up by one point in Colorado, two points in Pennsylvania and tied in Florida. A two point swing could mean the difference between a 300 plus electoral vote victory and a narrow electoral vote loss. Yes, it’s that close. And I would remind everyone, Barack Obama won Florida by less than a point in 2012.

We’ll have to wait a couple of days before the next set of polls comes out to see how effective – or not – Clinton was. If I have one complaint about her performance it was this: she did get a little too technical at times. Like most people who have the facts on their side, there’s a tendency to try to teach rather than converse with the audience. Clinton needs to keep that in mind in the second debate.  Also, since it's obvious Trump will hit her again with NAFTA and TPP in the next debate, she's going to have to come up a better answer than her husband created a lot of jobs in the '90s. She needs millennials to vote for her and most of them weren't even teenagers when Bill was in the Oval Office.

But unless I completely misread what happened last night – and that's always a possibility – I would expect her to reap the rewards of a well-earned victory when the next round of polls comes out. She isn’t out of the woods just yet, but at least the clearing is in sight.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Why This Debate Is Not Your Typical Debate

Be honest. How many presidential debates can you remember? I'm one of the few people I know who's probably watched all but a few, including Gerald Ford's "There is no Soviet domination of Poland" faux pas and Ronald Reagan's "There you go again" swipe at Jimmy Carter.

My point, however, is that those were memorable moments from debates that for the majority of people - especially those with lives - are easily forgettable. Even the debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney four years ago have been relegated to the "who gives a shit?" bin. You and I may remember the look on Obama's face when Romney made his pivot in Denver, but I can assure you more people remember the look on Penny's face when Leonard proposed to her on The Big Bang Theory. If being a wonk were listed as a trait on a dating site, most of us would die old and alone.

That will not be the case this Monday. When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump walk onto that debate stage, it's likely that a third or more of the country will be watching. And MOST of them will remember, quite possibly for a long, long time. In fact, I predict that this debate will become a seminal moment, not just in politics, but in entertainment for years to come. Think Peyton Manning's last Super Bowl and the Royal wedding. Yes, the ratings will be THAT good.

And that's why, unlike past debates, the stakes couldn't be higher. Most pundits will tell you a good debate performance will net a candidate maybe a point in the polls. You can throw that logic out the window. I think whoever wins this debate will likely win the election. That's how important it is.

Yes, I know there will be two other presidential debates and one vice presidential debate, and, yes, I know anything can happen, but my gut tells me that the winner of this debate will wind up with the lion's share of what little undecided vote there still is. And with Hillary holding a narrow national lead and an even narrower electoral vote lead, she's got a lot riding on her shoulders Monday night.

It's time to face the obvious. The fate of the entire country and perhaps the free world might well come down to what happens over those 90 minutes. And to make a scary situation even scarier, Clinton will have two opponents on that stage: Trump and the moderator. Trump has already put Lester Holt on notice that he doesn't want another Candy Crowley moment. Think about it, we now have a presidential candidate whose bar is so low he could step over it calling the shots for the biggest presidential debate since Lincoln - Douglas.

So how does Hillary Clinton prevail? What does she have to do Monday night? I think it comes down to three things.

First, be on the lookout for the long-anticipated pivot. Over the last few weeks, we have seen a glimpse of what a mild-mannered Trump would look like. I have a hunch that Trump plans on duplicating what Romney tried in Denver in 2012. Whether he can pull it off for an entire 90 minutes remains to be seen, but many believe it is his only chance at making the case that he is the better choice this November.

Hillary cannot let him get away with this. She must call him out whenever he goes Dr. Jekyll to his usual Mr. Hyde. Without losing her cool, which would be playing right into his hands, she must remind the audience of who he really is and what he has said throughout this campaign. She must make it clear that you don't get to rewrite 15 months of deplorable conduct in an hour and a half.

Second, since she is not likely to get any help from Holt on the fact-checking front, Hillary will have to assume that role. When Trump makes one of his ridiculous claims - like, for instance, his insistence that he was always against the Iraq War - she must rebut his claim immediately. Throughout this campaign, she has been tagged as the liar while he has gotten away with merely being called unhinged. The fact is he is a far more egregious liar than she could ever be, and Clinton will have her chance to prove it. For her sake, she must not fail.

And lastly, she MUST make the case for herself. Without sounding wonkish, which she does on many occasions, she has to lay out a clear and concise vision for why she is better suited for the job as commander in chief. She is already winning when it comes to temperament and experience, but she still hasn't sealed the deal with the voters. That's the principle reason for her slide in the polls. It's not that they trust Trump more, they just aren't entirely sold on her. While she has regained some of her once formidable lead, she is still precariously close to losing this thing.

But by maintaining her cool, putting him in his place when he starts making outlandish claims and reassuring the audience that she is worthy of their trust, she can ostensibly bury Trump and put herself on the glide path to victory this November. One thing is for certain: no one is better equipped for the challenge ahead. Indeed, there has never been a candidate, presidential or otherwise, who has been this vetted and scrutinized. That will be her greatest advantage over Trump on Monday. There's nothing he can do to her that the GOP hasn't been trying to do for years.

This is her moment; the one she has been preparing for her entire life. It's her election to lose. Trump may think he has the upper hand, but Hillary still holds all the cards. It's time for a Royal Flush.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Memo To Media: You've Been Getting Played for 15 Months

I love it when the media has an epiphany. It's like watching an alternate version of the movie A Christmas Story, only in this version when Ralphie looks behind the desk, instead of getting a Red Ryder air rifle, he gets a chemistry set. The look of WTF on his face is priceless.

CNN's John King, upon learning that Donald Trump's "press conference" on President Obama's birthplace was really nothing more than a self-serving publicity stunt for his new hotel, said "We got played again."

No shit, Sherlock!

It's getting to the point that even these geniuses are starting to figure out that Trump's whole campaign has been nothing more than one giant scam on the American public. Those of us who bothered to pay attention knew who he was and what he was up to, but the John Kings of the world keep getting burned.

Well I've got a news flash for King and his compadres: you've been getting played for the last 15 months. And not only did you go along with the gag, you enabled his con game to the tune of a trillion dollars in free advertising. Not only don't I feel sorry for you, your incompetence is now principally responsible for this snake-oil salesman being in the position he now finds himself in.

I say principally only because Hillary Clinton must bear some responsibility here. If she had run a smarter campaign or had less baggage, she'd be up by a wider margin. But throughout all of last year and for a good chunk of this one, the media's lay down in the face of the most polarizing and divisive figure in modern politics was shameful and beneath contempt. Edward R. Murrow must be spinning in his grave.

This is what happens when journalists stop being journalists and instead become umpires. This is also what happens when corporate profits are more important than journalistic integrity. My understanding of journalism, such as it is, is that it is first and foremost concerned with getting at the truth, no matter where that may lead. Today, the press and the media seem more concerned with being fair and even-handed. Both sides are equally guilty, even if the facts prove otherwise.

Witness the coverage the Clinton Foundation received vs. the coverage the Trump Foundation received. In the latter we have clear evidence of a quid pro quo; in the former, an appearance of impropriety. While I will grant that Bill and Hillary did not handle this potential quagmire well, there should be no doubt to any objective person that Trump paid off the Florida Attorney General to ensure his university would escape prosecution. One foundation broke the law; the other was guilty of bad optics.

And yet when one examines the media coverage, it's clear the Clinton Foundation received far more attention and far worse treatment. Only over the last few days we have we started to see some unflattering news stories on Trump and his apparent scam foundation. How much traction this issue gets will depend on how aggressively the press pursues it. If the last 15 months are any indication, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it.

You can go back as far as you like and what you will find is astounding. Clinton is called on the carpet while Trump gets off virtually Scott free. Indeed the only hot water Trump seems to get into is when he opens his mouth and makes an ass out of himself; something he did yet again last night when at a rally he suggested that Hillary's secret service detail be disarmed. How many Second Amendment references must this man make before he is held accountable?

Thanks to the even-Steven tact that the media has taken, both these candidates are now virtually tied in unpopularity, despite the fact that only one of them has a track record of dishonesty going back to the '70s. The faults of these candidates are now so baked in to voters perceptions of them that Trump is free to say whatever outrageous thing pops into his head without fear of reprisal. Indeed, the fact that he is still in the race with all that he has said and done is an indictment of both our political system and the people who report on it.

Sadly, I don't know how we get out of this one. The most dangerous and unstable individual ever to run for president is less than two months away from possibly being elected. If that happens an awful lot of people will have an awful lot to answer for, starting with the vaunted Fourth Estate.

And to think all Ralphie had to worry about was shooting his eye out.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Year of the Reset

Every presidential election has its moments when the campaigns reset. Momentum surges eventually peter out and the other side regains its footing. Huge leads are often wiped out as the race tightens. Sometimes (1988) an early lead by one side – Dukakis – turns out to be an inevitable win by the other – Bush. Typically, though, candidates that jump out to early leads hold that lead right into the election. This has been true since LBJ crushed Goldwater in '64, the exception being the aforementioned election in 1988. Usually the only question is how wide the margin will be for the victor. Reagan mauled Mondale in ’84 and Bush eked out a narrow win against Gore in 2000.

This election year has had more resets that I can recall. The first reset was when Donald Trump clinched the GOP nomination and pulled into a tie with Hillary Clinton, who was still embroiled in a bitter Democratic primary battle with Bernie Sanders. Then, when Clinton clinched the nomination, she jumped out to a lead. Then came the party conventions. Trump got his bump – albeit a small one. Clinton then got her convention bump, which proved to be far bigger. Trump had a number of bad missteps over the next two weeks that allowed Hillary to pad her lead to 8 points in most polls. Pundits were beginning to talk about a Clinton landslide in November.

Then came the current reset, which as it turns out was a two-part event. The first part was inevitable. The huge bump that Hillary got from her convention began to recede, as all waves do. The polls started tightening in late August. A once imposing lead became a more realistic one. Then came the events of the last week. Trump for his part managed to go several days without making a spectacle of himself, and Clinton had the whole pneumonia brouhaha.

There was also the issue of her “basket of deplorables” comment that some say factored into the slide. I’m not convinced it had the impact some say it did, but let’s say for the sake of argument it did. What we now have is a race that is as tight as it has been since both candidates clinched their respective party’s nominations.

The RCP average shows Clinton with a narrow 1.1 point lead nationally in a four-way race. She continues to hold a lead in the electoral college, but her margin of error is down significantly. The no tossup map shows her with 294 votes, only 24 above the minimum. Yes, she still has more paths to victory, but suddenly Trump’s path is not so imposing. We now have a horse race, meaning it’s anybody election to win.

If you’re the Trump campaign you should be ecstatic. Only four weeks ago your candidate was on life support and many Republicans were urging the RNC to pull its funding and give it to the down-ballot candidates. Now victory seems more than just a pipe dream.

If you’re the Clinton campaign you should be worried. I wouldn’t panic just yet, but it’s clear that both the candidate and her campaign have badly played the events of the last couple of weeks. If politics has taught us anything it’s these two things: 1. Voters have very short memories; and 2. Optics is everything.

The great concern was that Trump might do the impossible: grow up and become an adult. For the time being he appears to have done just that. History tells us, however, that this act is temporary, lasting sometimes a day or two. This is by far the longest stretch he has gone without making a fool of himself, and many voters are falling for it.

Regarding the optics, it’s time to admit the obvious: Hillary sucks at it. Unlike her husband Bill, who was all about optics, Hillary could screw up a sunset. The shortcomings that led to her downfall against Obama in ’08 and allowed Sanders to hang around as long as he did this year are coming back to haunt her but good against Trump.

Okay, so now what? As the old saying goes, no sense crying over spilt milk. What’s done is done. How does team Clinton recover? Thankfully, she’s still ahead. Things could be worse. She could be behind. And who knows, by this time next week, she might well be. But as bad as things may seem, all is not lost. 

For one thing, since Hillary has been sidelined in New York with pneumonia, her surrogates have been filling in admirably. President Obama – you know the guy with a 53 percent approval rating – has been stumping for her. And, as he has been want to do, he’s been trashing Trump relentlessly. Joe Biden has been doing his part. Indeed, Hillary can thank her lucky stars she’s a Democrat. The Party is blessed with a very deep bench and they are all doing their best to pull up the slack.

Another thing she should be grateful for is that she still has a superior ground game compared to Trump. It’s looking more and more like turnout is going to decide this election and, if that’s true, that bodes well for her in November. And then there’s the matter of waiting for Trump to resume being Trump. Inevitably, he’s going to resort to his familiar patterns of behavior. He can’t help himself; it’s who he is. Personally, I’m impressed he’s lasted as long as he has. Most four year olds can’t go a day without acting up. Trump has gone a whole week.

The first debate is scheduled for September 26, just over ten days from now. History shows us that this is the point at which most of the electorate will form its opinions of the candidates. I would respectfully disagree. At this point I think most people have already made up their minds about these two candidates. The debates will offer little in the way of persuadable information. 

But what they can do is allow one candidate an opportunity to redefine him or herself. Mitt Romney tried that in 2012 in the first debate with Obama in Denver. It almost worked. Romney did a one-eighty in front of millions of viewers. Sadly for him, he couldn’t keep up the charade and Obama won reelection. My fear is that Trump could pull the same stunt in the first debate. Hillary must be ready for this. She can’t allow him to get away with the old switcheroo.

But I keep getting back to a point I made in an earlier piece. It isn't enough to simply bash Trump as the Clinton campaign has done; they must make the case for why she is the better choice. And that is where they seem to be stuck. Her poll numbers have tanked primarily due to the fact that you can only beat a dead horse so many times. 

Hillary Clinton has an incredible resume and an incredible story, but neither is getting through. As soon as she gets back on the trail - today was supposed to be her return - she needs to start letting America know about both. Obama can't do it for her; neither can Biden. She and only she can do it. She's been a doer most of her life; now she has to be a teller. That's how campaigns are won.

What's happening here is no different than a hockey team with a three-goal lead giving up a couple of third period goals. Yes, it's now a closer game than they'd like it to be, but they're still ahead. They must remember that and not panic. Stay on message. Remind the voters that she has the better policy proposals, she has the superior temperament, she will protect women's rights, gay rights, voting rights, the environment, healthcare reform, the Supreme Court, etc.

She's still the odds-on favorite to win this thing. But she and her campaign will have to work their asses off to make it happen.

* An earlier version of this piece said the first debate was scheduled for September 23. It's really scheduled for September 26. The correction was made.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Overheated and Overblown

Okay, can we have a little perspective please? Hillary Clinton has pneumonia; walking pneumonia, according to her doctor. She doesn’t have cancer or dementia. In fact her condition apparently was so grave that after being diagnosed on Friday, she ran a two-hour national security meeting, held a press conference, hosted a campaign event, and still managed to stand up for 90 minutes on a very muggy morning at the 9/11 memorial in lower Manhattan before nature finally took its course. Shit, I get a runny nose and I'm in bed with the sheets over my head for a week.

And the kind of pneumonia she has isn’t all that uncommon, nor is it considered particularly dangerous. If treated properly, most people recover very quickly. That’s why her campaign canceled its planned trip to California and Clinton has decided to take a couple of days off. Better safe than sorry.

But of course the press is throwing a hissy fit because they feel that once again they were kept in the dark about something that was going on with her and this only fuels the distrust people already have of her. I'll stipulate to this: The campaign should’ve released a statement Friday, not Sunday. Waiting until she collapsed while getting into a limo is not only wrong, it’s terrible optics. It just gives the wingnuts on the Right more ammunition to keep up with their conspiracy theories regarding her health. Can you imagine what would happen if it was discovered she took some Bayer aspirin for a mild headache? They’d probably say she had a brain tumor. Once more team Clinton will have to dig itself out of a hole of their own making.

But here’s the thing, and it brings me back to this double standard I’ve been talking about. Her bar is so much higher than Trump’s and this incident just proves it. Her health has become such an issue primarily because the media and press in this country have been led around like a seeing eye dog over these bogus stories from Alex Jones and Breitbart, not because there was any credence to them. To a certain extent I can understand why she didn't disclose she had pneumonia. To tell you the truth, given the circumstances, I wouldn't have either.

Trump, meanwhile, had his “doctor” write a letter for him proclaiming him the fittest man ever to run for president in the history of the world. Seriously, did you read that letter? My sister wrote better excuses for me when we were in high school. Trump comes up with a lame excuse for why he can’t release his tax returns and instead of holding his feet to the fire, the press talks about audits. Hillary comes down with walking pneumonia and she's typhoid Mary. Jesus.

Even the flack she’s gotten over her basket of deplorables speech has been totally overblown. Maybe in hindsight she shouldn’t have said 50 percent – though I think that was being kind – the point is she was right and, far from qualifying it, she should stick to her guns. Meanwhile the press all but ignored the last part of her speech: the one about the other 50 percent of Trump supporters who have been left out in the cold. To be honest, they have mentioned it, but not nearly as much as the racist, xenophobic part. Fair and balanced, my ass.

It’s becoming painfully clear that the Clinton campaign is going to have to release her complete medical records. Like it or not, it has now become a major story in this race, which is yet another indictment of our political system. The sooner they do it, the better. It won’t make any difference on the other side of the aisle. Trump will still refuse to release his tax returns and his doctor will still claim he is Clark Kent incarnate. But in this upside down circus of a campaign where double standards rule the day and the Fourth Estate has abdicated its responsibility as journalists, you do what you have to do to survive.

The stakes are simply too high to do anything else.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hillary Said What Needed To Be Said

Let's be clear here. Hillary Clinton did not misspeak at her fundraiser when she said that half of Donald Trump's supporters are racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist and Islamaphobic. In fact, she left out misogynistic. Anyone who has been paying close attention to Trump's rallies and the general tone of his campaign and is honest with themselves would come to the same conclusion.

What she said needed to be said, and the rest of us, including the media, should stop pussyfooting about it and admit the painful reality that what we are witnessing in this country is the rise of white nationalism, the likes of which hasn't been seen since the mid-60s when the Ku Klux Klan ran roughshod throughout much of the South after the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. The alt-Right movement has found a home in the Trump campaign and that is no accident; it's as deliberate as it gets.

Kellyanne Conway can rant about how Hillary has "insulted millions of Americans" all she wants. These people should be insulted; in fact these people should have a spotlight turned on them so that who they are and what they stand for are exposed for all to see. If it's insults she's so concerned about, where is her outrage over Trump calling Mexicans rapists? Spare me, Kellyanne. If the hood fits, where it.

And for those who are thinking that this is Hillary's 47 percent moment, not even close. For one thing, Mitt Romney was speaking generally about what he and many Republicans view, unfortunately for them, as the bulk of the Democratic base that they could never get to vote for them. Of course they never quite realized that when you demonize a whole voting bloc you're pretty much toast with that group.

Hillary was speaking about HALF of Trump's supporters, which if you look at the national polls, comprises between 18 to 20 percent of the overall electorate. We can debate if that number is a bit high or a bit low, but it sure as he'll isn't a tiny percentage. I'm on record as saying the percentage is as high as 15 percent. So there.

It also should be noted that Hillary took great care to mention that the other half of Trump's supporters are people who feel that "the government has let them down" and are "desperate for change. These are people we have to understand and empathize with."

Again, she is right. I'd even be willing to stipulate that that number could be a bit higher, but not much higher. But whatever that percentage is, she's got her work cut out for her trying to turn them. Will the press give her credit for that? Somehow I doubt it. Not with this motley crew. Most of them still think Matt Lauer did a good job in the Commander in Chief Forum. Nuff said.

The truth is the Trump campaign is not a Republican version of the Sanders campaign. Not even close. I will not rehash what I thought of Bernie and his supporters - you can read it for yourself. But one thing is for certain: there were no skin heads at his rallies, and he never brought in someone as despicable and loathsome as Stephen Bannon to run his campaign. Show me the tweet of Alex Jones or David Duke saying Bernie speaks for them. Do that and I'll shut up.

Kellyanne Conway can try her damnedest to dress up the turd that is her candidate; that's her job and her problem. He is what he is and a good chunk of his supporters - roughly half - are what they are. From the moment he started in with his bullshit over Obama's birth certificate, he made a calculated decision that he was going to court a certain segment of the population. Well, mission accomplished. That segment now sees him as their savior. What was it he said in his convention speech: "I'll be your voice?" Guess what? He is. The truth hurts, doesn't it?

Eighty years ago the world was brought to the brink of destruction by a perverted and racist movement that scapegoated Jews and in the process murdered many of them. I and a lot of people just like me will be damned if we are going to let that happen again. Not on our watch.

Bravo, Hillary. Bravo!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Gary Johnson Has A Point

Yes, Gary Johnson should have known what Aleppo was and how important it is.  You and I and any number of people we know may not know what Aleppo is. That's fine - we're not running for president. But Gary Johnson is. It is unacceptable that a candidate - any candidate - running for leader of the free world be so uninformed on such a vital issue.

That being said, Johnson has a point. In an interview on Imus in the Morning with Connell McShane, Johnson owned his mistake and then said this:

There is an incredible double standard going on here, and I'm okay with that. It's the way that it should be. Has Donald Trump not said 150 things that should disqualify? If this is one thing, hasn't he said 150 of those things?

Johnson is 100 percent correct. There is an incredible double standard going on in this election. Hillary Clinton has certainly felt it and now it's Johnson's turn in the barrel. The simple truth is that Donald Trump has so thoroughly lowered the bar that he now routinely gets away with the most egregious and outlandish statements while others are held to an impossible standard.

Now I don't think that Johnson's flub will prove all that costly to him. Face it, most of the people who support him and Jill Stein are so disillusioned by the current political system that if a Pet Rock decided to run as a third-party candidate they'd get 2 percent of the vote right off the top.

But it's becoming painfully obvious that there are two sets of rules: one for Donald Trump and one for Hillary Clinton. And my fear is that with the press and the main-stream media deciding to sit this election out and ignore their responsibilities as journalists, Trump will be able to say virtually anything he wants unfettered by the constraints of reality.

The performance of Matt Lauer in Wednesday's forum was, sadly, not an outlier. It was yet another painful reminder of the degree to which this once venerable industry has declined. Can you picture Mike Wallace allowing a political candidate to literally lie to him and millions of people who were watching him? Not for a moment. In fact, Wallace would often make the lives of the people he interviewed a living hell if they even attempted to do that. If you don't believe me, go ahead and Google some of his 60 Minutes' segments. What Wallace did was not out of the ordinary: in his day, it was considered standard operating procedure.

Those days are sadly gone. Witness what Wallace's son, Chris, had to say regarding his role as the moderator of the third presidential debate. "I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad. It's up to the other person to catch them on that."

You hear that? Chris Wallace, son of legendary TV journalist Mike Wallace, thinks that the truth is whatever the candidate with the loudest voice says it is. So Trump can basically spew whatever nonsense he wants to for two hours and Clinton will be forced into not only fact checking his bullshit, but, in what little time remains, present her vision for the country. It's like a batter walking to the plate with two strikes against him.

This is the gift the Trump campaign has been looking for: a national stage where their candidate can peddle his snake oil to an unsuspecting country without being challenged by the very agency tasked with defending the truth, and at the same time nullifying the strengths of his opponent. This is how Trump beat his opponents and won the Republican nomination: by dragging them down to his level. If you thought he got away with murder during those debates, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Hillary will have her hands full over the next several weeks. Not only will she have to best Trump in a one on one debate forum - that is assuming Johnson doesn't reach the requisite 15 percent threshold in the polls and earn a spot on the stage - she will have to do it while the Fourth Estate stands idly by and calls out for a pizza.

Hey, Chris, don't forget the anchovies.