Let’s get the easy part out of the way first: Hillary Clinton. Like any other regular politician, Hillary Clinton can be counted on to have a top-notch team of advisers coaching her on both specific policy talking points and demeanor, advising her to keep her cool, show humanity as well as strength and expertise, and keep the high ground in every way, including not interrupting Trump. That last point will be hard, but if she interrupts him, it won’t be more than once or twice.
Now, about Trump. What he has for a team of advisers at this point, and how much he listens to a word they say, is anybody’s guess. Consistent with the perception that Trump has narcissistic personality disorder, it can be figured that he is absolutely right in feeling that he has adequately apologized for his misogynistic remarks, and that he’s entitled to have everybody move on, because he alone can make America great again. Narcissists genuinely believe that they’re absolutely right, and they can’t handle criticism or contradiction.
What all that means, in my view, is this: If Trump were a man of normal temperament, and able to attract a team of good advisers to whom he would listen, he would be prepared tonight to be a model of composure and humbleness, praising the American people for giving him a second chance, speaking of the lessons he has learned about the importance of respecting women, and, for good measure, making some cogent policy arguments to show that he actually knows what he’s talking about on some important measures. That’s what one could expect from a normal politician. But Trump isn’t a normal politician. Thus, we may well see a narcissistic meltdown.
But anything is possible. If we just remind ourselves that just over a year ago nobody thought he stood a chance of winning the primaries after the field of competitors had been winnowed down, and if we also remind ourselves that two weeks ago he was tied in the polls with HIllary Clinton and even pulling ahead by some measures, despite having been way down in August, the fact that he’s way down and in more disgrace than ever with many in his own party still doesn’t mean the race is over. Sure, it’s highly improbably that he’ll win. Then again, 2016 has been the year of the highly improbable.
Esteemed associates, I hope you’ll watch tonight’s debate, and post comments on the OpenLab discussion board before, during, and after. I’m opening a new discussion thread there now.