PoliticsThe Most Godawful Post-Debate Hot Take Is Already Here
An event hasn't officially happened until someone has written a hot take about it.
Okay, so first thing's first. Hillary Clinton won the debate last night. And that's not just my biased lefty opinion. Most post-debate polls and focus groups felt like she walked away with the thing. Even Breitbart's poll said she won, and its executive chairman is running the Trump campaign. And if that's not enough for you to grant the premise, how about this. Ashley Feinberg at Deadspin did the research that nobody else would enjoy doing and found that even the White Supremacists (and Trump lovers!) of Stormfront felt that Hillary won the debate.
But can this level of certainty stop the hot takes? Of course not. And USA Today is here to bring us one. Are you ready? It is a doozy.
The headline: "Trump pulled off presidential: James Robbins." A good rule of thumb that a hot take is coming is that the publication will put the writer's name in the headline, lest people think that the editors of the publication agree with what's coming. So today's hot-taker-in-chief is Mr. James Robbins, who will be arguing the preposterous opinion that what Donald Trump did last night was "Presidential." Oof. Good luck, James. He begins:
"You can’t fact check leadership, and tonight Donald Trump showed himself a leader."
Whoa. I have to be honest, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get through this whole take. YOU CAN'T FACT CHECK LEADERSHIP?! That's such a terrible, terrible line that it is actually making my brain short circuit. It's basically saying: "All these whiny libtards want the 'facts,' but who cares about 'facts' when you got leaderballs?!" Beyond it being dumb, it's also wrong. You can fact check leadership. Like using the fact that Donald Trump as the head of many companies has used his leadership to run them into the ground or refuse to pay his workers. It's hard to start a piece with so much dumb and wrong in one sentence, but here we are. It's almost impressive. Moving on.
This is where the piece gets weird. Rather than trying to prove the leadership point, which is, you know, the more controversial half of that topic sentence, the author instead goes down a five-paragraph rabbit hole of trying to prove that moderators shouldn't be fact checkers. Okay. Maybe that would be a fair argument to have before the debate, though I would argue back that a candidate that so willfully lies and seems to count on the media not calling him on those lies would be an exception to the "moderators shouldn't fact check" rules if those rules should even exist. But after the debate? In an op-ed claiming Trump was presidential? Seems like a bad idea.
The author finally gets to his point towards the piece's end. Kinda. He cites the famous "there you go again" Carter-Reagan debate and says:
"Reagan did not come off as the cartoonish, conservative cowboy of
Democratic talking points. The Lowell Sun observed, “Ronald Reagan had
not self-destructed. He had not made any ill-advised statements that
were clearly foolish, as Carter had hoped. Reagan appeared calm under
Carter’s attack. With his polished stage manner, he went a long way in
presenting himself as presidential timber.” Many Americans agreed. A
Gallup poll two days before the debate showed Reagan trailing Carter
39% to 47%. A week later, Reagan won the election 51% to 41%."
Okay. Those are some interesting Reagan-Carter facts. Where is he going with this?
"The same words could apply to 2016. Donald Trump did not
self-destruct, he did not make foolish statements (whether you agree
with him or not), he gave as well as he got. And despite Clinton’s
numerous mocking remarks to the contrary, he came off as presidential.
And that’s a fact."
WHA?! So in 489 word opinion piece arguing that Trump was presidential last night, the piece spends only the first sentence and the last 51 words saying that Trump was presidential. The arguments as to why or how? One argument seems to be, Reagan was presidential. Remember that? And the other is basically, he just was presidential and that's a fact. But wait, didn't the author say we can't fact check leadership? Oh, so that's the point. He doesn't need to make an argument because "you can't fact check leadership." If only there were some term for what this take is doing.