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Pres Debate #2 (1a)

October 9, 2016

I was putting together this “archetypal” approach before the video tape; I still like it, so I’m going with it, but I’ll supplement it with post-tape thoughts on a page (1b).

A character like Hillary and a character like Trump, on stage together for a town-hall style presidential debate, could make quite a scene in a political novel. If I were imagining that fictive world, I would try to invent some crucial touches, and maybe a big moment (maybe at the end, like Hillary’s use of misogynist imagery at the end of the first debate—plunge the knife right into the subconscious) of archetype. Like Wharton and James were so good at, in The Age of Innocence, or The Golden Bowl or The Ambassadors, for instance, among the very well to do.

Conversation, story, image can be decisive in this face to face, person to person format (“town hall” says that this is about person in community, being a mensch); and those archetypal forms can express themselves through body language as well as words, with voice tone fusing the physical to the verbal/ideational.

I remember actually responding, immediately and intuitively, in the moment when GHW Bush surreptiously looked down at his watch, during his town hall with empathic B Clinton and honest Perot. The reflexive gesture appeared to express a pervasive attitude, a mindset, a character trait: “I don’t have time for you people,” and “I’m not watching out for you, I’m concerned about me, my agenda and my schedule.” Archetypes often express our subconscious constant, by using things that are metaphorical and thus can be decoded by turning them into common language, since they belong to all of us, and are immediately recognizeable.

The moment Trump sniffled in the first debate, we physically knew we were in trouble, because no one wants to get close enough to carry on a conversation with someone who has the sniffles.

For that reason, I think H has the edge in this debate, if she is steadily attentive and responsive, as the person she is, to the questioner as a person, an equal “soul,” who is trying to get a grasp on something.

The candidates will have an equal opportunity to engage voters conversationally, to relate in story, and to create a concrete image (“an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time,” as Pound put it) that will be “re-cognized,” at depth, as signifying true or false, life nourishing or starving, yes or no.

Both candidates have shown, in my viewing of them, that they are capable of doing this. H is the most experienced in this format, and the most comfortable with it. On the other hand, T prides himself on being a negotiator, closing the deal.

Regarding tone, I think that in her speeches, H sounds like she’s talking from the head, not from her heart to yours, with heart-felt urgency and personal insistence (like Bernie).

An illustration would be if we could hear her opening remarks in the first debate, in the from-the-head voice and then the from-the-heart. In tonight’s format, she will have an opportunity to inform her remarkable command of ideas and plans with her genuinely heartfelt desire to help ordinary prople. That will gain trust. Add a touch of youthful idealism—a kind of timelessness—and she will gain some votes.

Trump, on the other hand, appears to shout, al improviso, right out of the heart, with no interruption by the cerebral cortex. But he says just enough of the ideas that his supporters long for (and rightly so, regarding for insance TPP), that they believe. Tonight he will have an opportunity to be calm, considered and considerate, in command of facts and proposals. If he can control himself, instead of trying to control everybody else [if he avoids the tone of assault], he can gain some votes.

There aren’t many votes available to be gained [and fewer since the tape]; but neither candidate wants to lose support, and T seriously needs to inspire more people to come out for him.

[Update 10-16:  SNL spoof.]

[Page (1b) & (1c) & (2a) & (2b) & That Wasn’t Politics & Lincoln & Dreams 10-11-16 of this episode.]

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