Thursday, September 08, 2016

Give Lauer An Assist For Trump's Lay-Up

Did you hear the one about the "court system (for alleged cases of sexual assault in the military) practically doesn't exist?"  How about Hillary Clinton saying "the vets are being treated essentially just fine?"  And what of Trump opposing the war in Iraq?  And that President Obama's reception in China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia  represented “the first time in the history, the storied history of Air Force One” when “high officials” of a host country did not appear to greet the president? (Video below is of President Reagan's 1988 trip to Moscow, in which he was met at the airport by President Gromyko rather than the more powerful Prime Minister Gorbachev, whom he is seen greeting later.) Or that under this President "the generals have been reduced to rubble?"

Donald Trump can be blamed for those lies. However, he cannot be faulted for contending that Vladimir Putin's popularity in Russia is at 82%, for that appears to be true. Good luck to the 18% who admitted they don't like him.

Blaming the candidate for swinging at the 0-2 hanging curve thrown to him by moderator Matt Lauer is optional. This remarkable exchange ensued on Wednesday evening:

LAUER: You recently — you recently received two intelligence briefings.

TRUMP: Yes, I did.

LAUER: Did anything in that briefing, without going into specifics, shock or alarm you?

TRUMP: Yes. Very much so.

LAUER: Did you learn new things in that briefing?

TRUMP: First of all, I have great respect for the people that gave us the briefings. We — they were terrific people. They were experts on Iraq and Iran and different parts of — and Russia. But, yes, there was one thing that shocked me. And it just seems to me that what they said President Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who is another total disaster, did exactly the opposite.

It was bad enough that Lauer asked the candidate to reveal his impression of a briefing given to only two human beings and which is expected to be completely confidential.  Invited to slam his opponent, the incumbent President, and current Secretary of State, Trump did not disappoint.

Further, Lauer gave Trump license to speak in generalities, to condemn opponents without offering any specifics. Trump, naturally, implied: I know things which no one else knows and it looks really, really bad for Obama and Clinton.

Anyone can make a mistake. But then Lauer compounded it by asking "Did you learn anything in that briefing — again, not going into specifics — that makes you reconsider some of the things you say you can accomplish, like defeating ISIS quickly?"

Lauer could not be so naive as to think that Donald Trump, who has never admitted error before, would say "oh, yes, I'm reconsidering because they showed me how I was wrong."  Again, the candidate did not disappoint, responding

No, I didn’t learn anything from that standpoint. What I did learn is that our leadership, Barack Obama, did not follow what our experts and our truly — when they call it intelligence, it’s there for a reason — what our experts said to do. 

This is beautiful.  Lauer could not question Trump's claim. Hillary Clinton, as was necessary, took the high road and simply noted that everything told in such briefings must be held confidential. Even the fact-checkers could not question Trump's statement because they are not privy to the information given.

It was a wonderful question for Donald Trump to receive, and he took the low road because he's Donald Trump. (Had he done otherwise and refused comment, the question would have been a waste of time and breath.)

Trump was Trump. Matt Lauer, he of the $28,000,000 salary and the Today Show, should not have been selected to moderate the "Commander-in-Chief Forum," which exposed him as a terrible interviewer on serious matters.  There should be repercussions but for a guy who asks Hillary Clinton seven(7) questions about e-mails, there will not be.

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