Last week when we were remembering Gene Wilder, I re-watched one of the funniest scenes he did in his long movie career: in “Young Frankenstein” when Dr. Frankenstein showed off his creation by doing a top hat and tails version of “Puttin’ On the Ritz.” Not only can the monster walk, he can even do a little time-step. The audience loved it.
That’s what came to mind when I read Greg Sargent’s piece on the upcoming presidential debates.
Get ready for news organizations to grade Trump’s debate performance on a massive curve. Here is a depressing harbinger of what’s coming, from CNN today:
In front of a vast television audience, the GOP nominee could reshape perceptions of his character and readiness — if he can avoid being drawn into gaffes and personality clashes by Clinton. He will benefit from rock-bottom expectations, given controversies whipped up by his tempestuous personality and the vast gulf in experience between Trump and Clinton.
In other words, if Trump doesn’t try to urinate in Clinton’s direction or manages not to vomit all over his podium, he will have “defied expectations.” So presidential! In saying these types of things, news orgs and commentators never allow that they are the ones who decide whether the supposed defiance of expectations in question actually should lead us to lower the bar for a candidate or otherwise factor in to how we judge his or her performance. It shouldn’t.
There will be a lot of pressure on the news orgs not to play this game, but it’s reasonably possible that we’ll see a lot of it, anyway. This is going to be infuriating, so prepare your medicine of choice right now.
Meanwhile, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, the moderator of the first debate, says it’s not his job to be the “truth squad,” calling out the candidates for false statements. (And that spectral moan you hear is the spirit of Mr. Wallace’s father, the late Mike Wallace, screaming in agony from the Great Beyond.)
Get ready to watch the monster dance.
HT to digby.