Scott Adams’ Take on the Debate

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Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has had probably the most acute analysis on this strange campaign this year.  Here is his take on the debate:


I just watched the debate on replay. Trump won bigly. This one wasn’t close. And keep in mind that I called Clinton the winner of the first debate, and I now endorse Gary Johnson, primarily to avoid being called an alleged enabler of alleged sex abusers and their alleged enablers. That basket of deplorables includes both Bill and Hillary Clinton (the alleged doer and the alleged cleaner-upper) plus Trump and his alleged misdeeds.

Some quick reactions…

1. When the Access Hollywood tape came up, Trump dismissed it as locker room banter that he regrets. You expected that part. The persuasion move was that he quickly contrasted that “small” issue with images of ISIS beheadings, and cage-drownings. It was a high ground maneuver, a powerful visual anchor (like the Rosie O’Donnell move from his first primary debate), and a contrast play. In this framing, Trump cares about saving your life while Clinton cares about your choice of words. I realize the issue is Trump’s alleged deeds, not his words. But in terms of debate persuasion, Trump nailed it hard.

2. Clinton’s body language was defensive. Trump is physically larger and prowled the stage. He won the optics. It only got worse when a fly landed on Clinton’s face mid-answer. Both candidates looked perfect in terms of wardrobe and hair, given what they have to work with.

3. Trump threw in enough random details about Syria to persuade viewers that he knows more than they thought he knew. And he did a great job selling the idea that he knows more than the generals (as ridiculous as that sounds), at least in terms of not announcing where we plan to attack. I agree with the moderator who said there might be good reasons for announcing attacks – such as giving time for civilians to leave – but it wasn’t quite a counter-argument. Trump succeeded in looking informed on Syria, and at the same time reinforced the “can’t keep a secret” theme for Clinton.

4. Trump’s pre-debate show with Bill’s alleged victims dismantled Clinton’s pro-woman high ground before the debate even started. I didn’t see the pre-debate show, but I assume it was impactful. It had to be. Clinton looked shaken from the start.

5. The best quotable moments from the debate are pro-Trump. His comment about putting Clinton in jail has that marvelous visual persuasion quality about it, and it was the laugh of the night, which means it will be repeated endlessly. He also looked like he meant it.

Clinton’s Abe Lincoln defense for two-faced politicking failed as hard as anything can fail. Mrs. Clinton, I knew Abe Lincoln, and you’re no Abe Lincoln. You know that was in your head. Or it will be. 

6. Most of the rest was policy stuff that no one understands or cares about. We don’t know how to fix Obamacare or what to do with TPP. But by acting competent on these and other policy issues, Trump gains more than Clinton in persuasion.

7. Trump attacked Clinton on emails, and did a good job. His base needed that.

8. Clinton had to defend her “deplorables” comment. She said she regretted it. Regret isn’t what the public wanted to hear. That’s about her. They wanted to hear that she doesn’t think that way. She failed to address the emotional part of that topic, and that’s a persuasion fail.

Go here to read the rest.  A political campaign is essentially a task of persuasion.  Trump remembered that last night, and Clinton, who came in cocky and overconfident, forgot that.

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  1. I must admit, I give Mr Adams a lot of credit when it comes to explaining humans and their behavior. I had no idea WTF my bosses were up to when I worked for a county Gov. After reading my first Dilbert, I fully understand that promotion is natures way of removing idiots from the productive flow, and these two running are the cumulative examples of our collective smarts.

    Oh shit.

    On the off chance Mr Adams reads these, I was the guy that sent in the story about the young Democrat who turned into a Repub after she got her first paycheck, and discovered, they had taken HER money out of it. I still vividly recall the transformation. Remind me to tell you about scanning a whole cell block of inmates with a Star Trek Tricorder. That was best day ever, at work.

  2. A Hillary presidency would be a disaster.
    Just wait. Three or four days of 24/7 media lies and Hillary will have destroyed Trump.
    The potty talk tapes are distraction and misdirection from real news (you can use) which is 98% Hillary/Obama corruption, incompetence, and stupidity.

    Here (some of it is tragic-comical) is what the wholly-owned-by-Hillary-2016 media omitted while going-off 24/7 on an 11 year-old potty talk tape.

    Jack Hellner,
    “– Justice drops the case against a gunrunner from Hillary’s Libya fiasco whose testimony would certainly have harmed Obama and Hillary.

    – Evidence surfaced that the White House participated in the cover-up of Hillary’s violation of national security laws with her private server even though they said they absolutely knew nothing about the server and would not interfere with an investigation.

    – We have learned more this week about how the investigation of Hillary by the Justice Department and FBI was a pure sham as they gave immunity to so many, took so much stuff off limits, and even carried out the destruction of evidence. The email investigation was pretend, just like the IRS investigation and any supposed investigation of the Clinton Foundation. It is clear that the White House, Justice Department, State Department, and IRS are working specifically to protect Obama and Hillary instead of working for the American people.

    – Aleppo and Syria are deteriorating rapidly despite Obama and Kerry being extremely tough and telling Russia and Assad to stop it.

    – Obama partially blamed the Civil War in Syria on a drought he says was caused by humans. That is one of the most ignorant statements ever. The war is because Assad is a tyrant, and the Mideast is essentially a desert that has had continued droughts for millennia.

    – An NBC News man topped Obama’s stupidity by saying the worthless Paris climate agreement would stop hurricanes.

    – Obamacare is collapsing rapidly. The multiple lies to pass the law are more obvious every day. The law is greatly harming the middle class and small employers and reducing the potential for full-time jobs.

    – An NSA contractor who committed the same crime as Hillary by keeping classified documents at home on several nonsecure devices is under arrest. Why isn’t Hillary?
    The media, of course, don’t focus on any of these things. Instead they trot out a tape of Trump talking dirty about women eleven years ago.”

  3. I was the guy that sent in the story about the young Democrat who turned into a Repub after she got her first paycheck, and discovered, they had taken HER money out of it. I still vividly recall the transformation.

    Was it anything like this? (they actually did some better ones but those are apparently not on the internet)

  4. Nate, Re the Zits cartoon you linked to, that was my older son when at 16 he received his first paycheck. He thought he was rich until he read the pay stub, then indignantly, “Wait a minute, what’s this FICA!!” After the explanation from dad, “But that’s not fair.”

  5. “Wait a minute, what’s this FICA!!”

    Reply to your son with a straight face, “Federal Income Confiscation Act.”

    (That’s not literally what FICA stands for but that’s what FICA is and this version is much easier to remember.)

    Real Soon Now there will come a time when all I’ll leave in the collection basket is a note, “I gave at the IRS (and Jerry Brown ate the rest).” Of course, our bishops could avert that day by ceasing to urge the federal and state governments to covet more and more of their neighbor’s goods. Also, the intercessionary prayers at mass which plead to God to bring us more of the State’s hand are hardening my heart.

  6. Micha Elyi, I recently learned from that same son now a California resident that there is a California State Board of Equalization. It collects sales tax and use taxes. Equalization sounds like another term for redistribution of wealth to me.

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