Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Counter Puncher Forgot To Punch Back

Donald Trump has famously stated that he does not punch first. He only counter punches when he is attacked first.

In the first Presidential debate tonight it seemed to me that Trump forgot who he was.

Perhaps it was because he had been told incessantly that he had to show a Presidential demeanor and a calm demeanor. It might have been because he did not expect so many offensive blow from Hillary.
The reason does not matter.

What I saw tonight was a counter puncher who forgot to punch back.

Hillary Clinton was on the offensive with every answer.

However, instead of counter punching, Trump looked like he was employing Muhammed Ali's "rope-a-dope" strategy where he just went into a reflexive defensive strategy.

Instead of counter punching, Trump spent almost all of his time explaining and defending himself.

Simply stated, you cannot win a debate when you spend 90% of your time trying to explain and defend yourself instead of challenging your opponent to explain themselves.

Here are three examples off the top of my head that jumped out at me where Trump either missed or whiffed on great opportunities to counter-punch.

Tax Returns-Hillary predictably went after Trump for not releasing his tax returns. As I have written before, this is a soft spot for Trump. She questioned him on what he had to hide.  He proceeded to talk about his audit, his attorneys and his financial statements when he should have said something like this. He did get in that he was willing to release his tax returns if she released her emails but the counter punch was lost in all his defense of the issue.

"Hillary, don't you think it is the height of hypocrisy to accuse me of hiding something with my tax returns when you consider all of the things you did to hide your emails? The private server you set up. The classified emails that were on it. The actions to delete the emails after Congressional investigations began looking into it. You stated you turned over all of your work emails by the FBI Director said they found thousands of work emails that you tried to delete and were not turned over. The immunity deals given to some of your aides, including, we found out last week, your Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills. "

"I have said I will release my tax returns when the current audit is completed under the advice of my attorneys. However, I will ignore that advice counter to my own self interest if you agree to turn over the 32,000 emails that you claim were personal but which we now know included thousands of work related emails. By the way, your accounting of emails during your time as Secretary of State indicate that you had more personal emails than business emails. How does that happen? Were you really doing that much wedding planning and taking that many yoga lessons that they exceeded your work emails in total? That is hard to believe.

Cyber Security-Lester Holt floated up one of the great soft balls in debate history when he first asked this question of Hillary during the debate. Even better, Trump had two minutes to think about it as she droned on about the immense risks to our country of cyber attacks, including those of foreign powers. Trump totally whiffed. He did not say one word about the tremendous security risk to our country that Hillary exposed us all to with her private server. In fact, at one point he even talked about his 10 year old son! What was that about?

Here is what he could have said.

"Lester, I am glad you brought up this important topic. There is nothing more important to our country today than protecting our nation's technological infrastructure, and in particular, our national security interests from cyber attack."

"That is why it is so mind boggling that Secretary Clinton would have even thought about, let alone established, a private server to conduct her State Department business. It is utterly incomprehensible. Now she says it was a mistake. At best it has to rank as one of the worst cases of judgment any cabinet officer in the history of the United States has made. At worst, it was intentionally done to subvert the laws of the United States."

"Mrs. Clinton said she did it for her convenience as she did not want to carry two devices. Of course, the FBI tells us you had multiple devices anyway. By your actions you made us a much easier target for cyber attack. You risked the security of every American by doing so. Why? You said it was for your personal convenience. However, the FBI says you had multiple devices anyway during your tenure at State? How could you put your convenience ahead of our security? I just don't understand it. Mistake? It does not add up."

Nuclear Threat-The question of nuclear proliferation came up and Hillary used her time to attack Trump on some of his comments about the possibility of other countries eventually getting nuclear weapons (ex-Japan). Again Trump spent almost all of his time "explaining" himself. He touched on the Iran deal but again it got lost in his "rope-a-dope."

A much better answer might have been something like.

"It is interesting that Secretary Clinton wants to criticize me about the potential for other countries gaining nuclear weapons. Let me tell you something, I have been a private citizen and businessman trying to make a few bucks and employ people over the last 30 years. You, on the other hand, have been in a position to do something about it. That is why we need change. The status quo is not working.

"Who are we most concerned with in this world on gaining nuclear weapons? I am not going to lose sleep if Japan decides to go that step. I would urge them not to but I think they, better than anyone on earth, understands the enormity of that decision.

On the other hand, terrorists and terrorist states that have nuclear bombs are something that should keep all of us awake. Take North Korea. When did they make the major strides on their nuclear weaponry. It was under your husband. He thought he had a non-proliferation deal with the North Koreans in 1994 but they reneged on the deal. Another stupid deal that we see over and over again.

Take Iran. The Iran deal negotiations which apparently started on your watch and that President Obama has agreed to has to be the worst deal in history. It is totally one-sided and at the end of the day Iran will have the nuclear bomb. The same Iran who says that they want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. You support that deal. I oppose it 100%.

Finally, we have the risk that ISIS could get their hands on a bomb. ISIS-which President Obama called the JV team- and is now bringing terror across the globe. An organization that came to power during your time at State and when you were charged with calming the Mideast. All we got was chaos.

How can you call me out on this issue when you see what has happened to the risks of nuclear proliferation under your husband, President Obama and you? It is inexplicable. I have had nothing to do with any of this dark cloud that hangs over us. Did you make another mistake?" 

Trump could have delivered all of these responses in a nice, respectful, measured way. He could have been on the offensive when he got the opening without being offensive. After all, all of these responses would have been true counter punches. She provided him with every opening. He just was not prepared to take advantage of the opportunities provided to him.

We were told before the debate that Trump eschewed the standard mock debate practice and "spit balled" responses with his aides.

On the other hand, Hillary spent the better part of the last four days doing mock debates.

It showed.

Ali's rope-a-dope strategy only worked because George Foreman got tired as the bout progressed and allowed to Ali to go on the offensive later in the about and knock him out.

It looked to me like Hillary did not even break a sweat. And that is saying something because she was under scrutiny due to her health.

Obama bombed in the first debate four years ago and came back. Trump can recover but he needs to get serious and understand that it is tougher to debate one on one than one on nine or five. He needs to get focused. He needs to be less defensive. And he needs to counter punch. There has never been an easier target.

1 comment:

  1. The more these two talk, the more I learn of how little substance either has. The more it scares me as to who is going to be in charge of a world superpower. Two of your points, Bombs and computers are worth worrying about. Tax returns for candidates is just absurd Surely there are rules and if they are not followed then there are punishments. Leave that to the Tax office and the police.