Thursday, September 8, 2016
The Commander-in-Chief Forum . . . Meh . . .
We haven't yet seen the full spin that will be put on the September 7 CINC Forum held at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York. (BTW: A great museum to visit when you're in Manhattan.) I am sure every word will be parsed, every gesture analyzed, lots of video contrasting what a candidate said last night with what that candidate said a year or two ago, etc. I am sure we will all wait for that . . .
My quick and dirty impression of the impact of the CINC Forum?
If you were a Trump supporter, you remain one; if you were a Clinton supporter, you remain one.
Neither candidate put it away; neither candidate committed a fatal error. If you're genuinely undecided and not going for Stein or Johnson . . . well, don't know what to tell you except, maybe, it's time to make up your mind or decide to sit it out. I can't imagine the forthcoming debates being much different, except, of course, if one candidate commits an incredible gaffe.
Matt Lauer, the moderator, is not on my Christmas card list; I never liked him as either a journalist or as an entertainer or whatever it is he is on that morning show. That said, however, he did a credible job of pressing the candidates, including, yes, Hillary. He was pretty tough on Hillary re the email scandal although he let slide some obvious lies she told in response. I love the new lie she is now telling: classified material must have a header that says classified and none of her emails had that header. Rubbish. Classification is determined by the content of the information with or without a header and with or without any other classification designator--especially given that at least one email gives instructions to an aide to remove the header and send her the info on her private system. The SecState should know, regardless of "header," whether certain information is suitable for an unclassified system. You would think, at a minimum, that the SecState would know that discussions on drone strikes and a potential Iranian defector, for example, are not appropriate for an unclassified system, especially one she set up herself.
In addition, she has rewritten the whole Libya fiasco and is trying to paint it as some sort of success for her and the West: that somehow her policy averted a "massacre" in Libya and was achieved--cough!--without any Americans being killed (Note: Ambassador Stevens could not be reached for comment.) She did not deal with the Benghazi disaster nor with the chaotic and bloody state of affairs now reigning in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and throughout much of North and sub-Saharan Africa as a result of her policies. She put a lot of emphasis on destroying ISIS. Good, but the key question as always with Hillary is, "While you had the power, what did you do?" Lauer should have asked her whether she agrees with Obama's characterization of ISIS as the JV team, and whether she thinks Obama has handled Russia correctly.
Trump did fine overall. He came off as knowledgable and engaged. I have some criticism, however, when it comes to Putin. I am all for, as I have said before, engaging with Russia and getting Russia to work with us against ISIS and other Islamic terrorists. That doesn't mean implying that Putin is a great man. I know what Trump was trying to do which is to contrast Putin's strong leadership with Obama's weak leadership, but he has to find another way to make that point. He should note that under Obama/Clinton/Kerry the Russians show no respect for or fear of the United States, and that whatever the Obama policy is towards Russia it has not dissuaded Putin from taking Crimea and continuing to threaten Ukraine. He also has to find another way of saying re Iraq that we should have taken the oil. He can talk about how we should have struck deals with those who control the oil--mostly Kurds--and so on, without implying that we invaded Iraq to take the oil.
I am voting for Trump and nothing I saw or heard last night will change my mind. My two cents of advice to Trump, however, is to turn almost every question around and ask, "What has Hillary done about that?" She was SecState and a Senator, so what has she done?