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Lowrying the bar

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The man who started the year by getting a bunch of Principled Conservatives to stand athwart Donald Trump yelling STOP! has made his lemons into Orangeade and mapped out Trump’s path to victory in the debate on Monday: Don’t be a complete and utter asshole.

Trump has a built-in advantage in that there is a lower standard for him — not because the media isn’t tough enough on him, as all the media mavens agree, but because he is the de facto challenger and candidate of change in a change election. Trump can win by clearing a bar of acceptability, whereas Clinton has to either clearly wound Trump or make a compellingly positive case for herself that has so far eluded her in both 2008 and 2016.

Jesus God is there anything the conservatives won’t grovel before if it gets powerful enough? Of course not.

Being a boorish, bullying, lying, ignorant, bigoted basket of shit whose hobbies are dicking people over and laughing about it is normally considered a negative. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of the Against Trumpers commented on these traits when discussing why Trump simply would not do as the Republican nominee. But the neo-cons have never been completely hostile to jerks and now that he’s gotten the nomination, Lowry has decided that the whole Trump the Trashbeing thing is great. Because now Trump can win if he just stops being utterly gross.

For the length of the debate.

Which is longer than 3 seconds.

I think I may have spotted a flaw in this plan.

To be sure, Trump will be on treacherous terrain. He can’t bully and mock Clinton. Without a teleprompter, message discipline still tends to elude him. The one-on-one format for an hour-and-a-half could make his thin knowledge painfully obvious. And any misstep or outburst that reinforces the idea that he lacks the qualities to be commander-in-chief would be devastating.

So he’s fucked, I guess Lowry is saying.

But Trump just needs to seem plausible and the very fact that he is on a presidential debate stage, the most rarified forum in American politics, will benefit him. During the Republican debates, the intangibles worked in his favor and they presumably will on Monday, too. Trump is a big personality with a dominant physical presence. His critics often sneeringly say he is a reality-TV star, but you don’t become one without charisma and a performative ability that are major political assets.

Perhaps he’s not screwed then. And I look forward to Lowry’s GOTV efforts for Kim Kardashian/Honey Boo-Boo in ’32.

Trump doesn’t need to mount a convincing, detailed defense of his tax or child-care plan or anything else to invalidate Clinton’s critique of him; he just needs to seem a reasonable person.

No never mind; he really is sincerely fucked.

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