From Lincoln v. Douglas to Trump v. Clinton …

corduroyplanet297

If you believe the political historians, debates almost never change the trajectory of a presidential campaign. Well, we’ve witnessed a lot of things in recent months that “almost never happen” or could “never happen,” and I suspect that we’re about to see another one. This debate has the potential to matter a great deal.

The stage has certainly been set. Donald Trump has closed the polling gap with Hillary Clinton, the two campaigns have been attacking each other with bitter ferocity and around the country, as people have taken sides, friendships and families are being rent to a degree unprecedented in living memory. This election season is no longer a contest between candidates or political campaigns. It has become a collision between two profoundly different world views, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that its outcome could alter the course of American history. Even many Americans who don’t typically follow politics have become very, very aware of what’s at stake.

A few weeks ago, in fact, Trump complained because the debates had been scheduled against NFL football games, and he worried that nobody would watch. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem, not even here in Atlanta with the Falcons on Monday Night Football against the hated Saints.  Why watch stylized violence and a contrived contest pitting “us” against “them” when a high-stakes version of the real thing is just one click away on your remote?

The night’s message from the Trump campaign will apparently be that it’s time for a change, and that only he is capable of forcing the scale of change necessary in Washington. I suspect that’s true, at least to the degree that a President Trump would indeed force large-scale change in ways that even now are difficult to imagine. But it’s important to remember that change is a neutral term. Things can change for the better; they can also change for the worse. And eight years ago this month, they were changing dramatically for the worse.

dow-jones-100-year-historical-chart-2016-09-26-macrotrends

Dow Jones Industrial Average, April 2007 to current

In late September of 2008, Lehman Brothers had just declared bankruptcy, and the Federal Reserve had announced a takeover of AIG. The stock market was in free fall, President Bush was warning that “this sucker could go down,” and U.S. Sen. John McCain had suspended his campaign to return to Washington in a panic, demanding that his debate with Barack Obama be postponed. (Obama declined, pointing out that “part of the president’s job is to deal with more than one thing at once.”)

The situation was so dire that at one point, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson got down on one knee in front of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, begging for her help with passage of a financial rescue package.

“It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans,” Pelosi said.

“I know,” Paulson responded. “I know.”

On Sept. 29, 2008, despite warnings from Bush, Paulson, John Boehner and other top Republicans that killing the financial rescue package would produce an economic train wreck rivaling or exceeding the Great Depression, GOP members voted overwhelmingly to take that risk. In fact, many of them seemed almost gleeful about their vote. They wanted change, and if that change could come about only by allowing the entire economic system to crash down around them, putting millions more out of work and destroying the retirement plans of millions more, they were perfectly willing to do so. It was an earlier expression of the same destructive sentiment now animating much of the Trump campaign

Sure enough, on the day of the bill’s defeat, the Dow suffered its worst one-day decline in history. But in Congress, unlike in presidential elections, you can always get another chance to vote. Five days later, the rescue bill did finally pass the House, averting almost certain disaster, even though a majority of House Republicans still voted against it. To this day, voting in favor of the bill that saved the global economy, with every dime eventually repaid to taxpayers, is considered the mark of Cain among Republicans.

Since the depths of the Great Recession, the Dow has almost tripled in value and we’ve added almost 15 million jobs to the economy. The jobless rate is 4.9 percent, and last year median household income increased by 5.2 percent, the single largest increase in the 50-year history of that statistic. While that too is change, it is change for the better. I’m still not quite sure why millions of our fellow Americans refuse to recognize that progress, or are so willing to once again march us toward the abyss. I do know that I’ll be watching tonight to see if Donald can explain it to me.

 

Reader Comments 0

1293 comments
MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Robert Costa, quoting Trump:  "I love the fight.  I love to hit back."


Just what we need as America's president in the 21st century.  (If we are nuts.)

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Actions speak louder than words.

I heard that somewhere....

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Obama: "I love to apologize."

Man of surrender, weak on the world stage.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Bar is set pretty low for Trump tonight. All he has to do is not pull his p$#% out and he wins, right?

Gmare
Gmare

That little thing? :)

Gmare
Gmare

Is Jay going to be live blogging tonight?

The Doom
The Doom

I hope Hilz is recovered for tonight. Hopefully, they won't have to wheel her in there in a wheelchair with an IV drip.  There's a rumor going round that she's gonna have to stand and do it for 90 minutes- without falling down.

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Watching the CNN feed. All they talk about is Trump -- never has debated one on one, hasn't prepped enough, over confident, Roger Ailes, book author sez he sux, least qualified man ever, can he actually endure 90 minutes, blah, blah, blah.

Nothing about Hillary.

Shocked!

breckenridge
breckenridge

9-16 - Donald Trump announced today that he is forming a new “pro-life coalition” that will be led by Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List. Dannenfelser, who warned in January that Trump would not deliver on the anti-choice movement’s priorities of appointing like minded Supreme Court justices and defunding Planned Parenthood, has come around to Trump since he became the GOP nominee and began promising the anti-choice movement what it wanted.

The problem I have with the Susan B. Anthony List, as well as similar groups such as Georgia Right To Life, is that their sole reason for existence is to undermine United States law.  As such, they should not be tax exempt entities.  

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

gotalife 

Syria, race relations, more jobs and inequality are the real issues.

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What's Hillary's plan for Syria, as you see it? 

YouLibs
YouLibs

@gotalife


I just can't seem to be able to get off the fence.


There's "so little difference".

gotalife
gotalife

Hillary Clinton has a 70% chance of winning the presidency. New York Times.

gotalife
gotalife

To avoid booze poisoning for al keys, drink Arnold Palmer's in memory of the golf icon.



YouLibs
YouLibs

@gotalife


My mother worked for a bank in Augusta for many years. One of her perqs was series tickets to the Masters. My first year was '57 and Palmer was all the rage.


Then came Nicklaus and then came Player. I was fortunate to be present for some of the best golf competition ever.


Arnold Palmer was a fine human being.

gotalife
gotalife

Syria, race relations, more jobs and inequality are the real issues.

gotalife
gotalife

On every measurement President Obama crushed it. Period.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Screaming the race card is their bread and butter. This aint nuthin new. 

~~Dooms

While it may be a surprise for you to learn that the members of the Trump campaign are rude, scumbags.  It is truly illuminating on just how deep racism and self-entitlement runs through every level of the “Trump Train.” Trump's insistence that blacks have “never had it worse” implies that we had it better under slavery and Jim Crow, and is a white supremacist line of thought to the core. Carry on though....

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

I think Hillary needs to break out those fire hose ads. And the ones about Bush dragging blacks behind pickup trucks, when Bush actually killed the guys who did that awful thing.

Works every time.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@Philo_Farnsworth More false equivalency to justify another Trump deplorable comment huh Philo?  Maybe this one will do the trick and actually help you to cast that Trump ballot.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@Philo_Farnsworth Never mind the fact that it makes absolutely no sense to equate such a horrific murder so loosely with a black person, such as myself, by stating that we did not want the killers to pay, for your entertainment  purposes only, just so that you can overcome that hurdle that goes by the name of Donald Trump.  Carry on though....

YouLibs
YouLibs

@StraightNoChaser


You hang around with nearly deaf people for a while and you learn that you have to scream to be heard.


Racists have this filter.

The Doom
The Doom

@StraightNoChaser 

Race card double down. And you're going to do this after that diatribe you had earlier today- something about white "trailer trash". Your own particular brand of bigotry was really showing when you went on that rant.Put the shovel down and quit digging.  

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@Doom Classical liberal @StraightNoChaser And?  I stand by what I said.  Hillary was called out for calling Trump supporters deplorable.  Imagine the outrage if she had called a white trailer trash voter a republican as Trump called Lester Holt a democrat because he is black. Imagine the outrage if she had stated "what do they have to loose" because they have been voting Republican all of their life and don't even have teeth to show for it. It's really not hard to imagine because all I have to do it look at your outrage over my comment for validation.  TNN (formerly CNN) would have her comment on continuous loop.  Your extra salty tears are duly noted.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Just as your trolling of everyone who is anti Trump is unfortunate. It is true that you may distance yourself from him, when it is convenient, your attacks on those who detest him show that you are connected at the hip to Donald Trump.