Debate preparation is similar in some respects to film editing. In both enterprises, there is material that is rehearsed (and, in the case of the movie, shot) that never makes the final cut.
Or at least shouldn’t, which is where the analogy breaks down. In a debate, it is up to the debater to decide in real time which factoids and/or juicy tidbits can be pressed into use and which should be discarded.
In last night’s debate, Hillary Clinton at one point close to the end made a curious choice to mention an irrelevancy that I for one would like to hear her explain. The main topic was her proposal to impose a no-fly zone over Syria to try to protect the people of Aleppo.
Her answer showed that her team hadn’t prepared her for the question, which she whiffed at. But then she doubled down on her lack of preparedness by wading off into a sidebar on refugees. Here is what she said:
I want to respond to what Donald said about refugees, made these claims repeatedly. I am not going to let anyone into this country who is not vetted, who we do not have confidence in, but I am not going to slam the door on women and children. That picture of that little 4-year-old boy in Aleppo with the blood coming down his face while he sat in an ambulance is haunting, and so we are going to do very careful, thorough vetting. That does not solve our internal challenges with ISIS and our need to stop radicalization to work with American Muslim communities who are on the front lines to identify and prevent attacks. In fact, the killer of the dozens of people at the nightclub in Orlando, the Pulse Night Club, was born in Queens, the same place Donald was born. So let’s be clear about what the threat is and how we are best going to be able to meet it. Yes, some of that threat emanates from over in Syria and Iraq, and we’ve got to keep fighting. And I will defeat ISIS. And some of it is we have to up our game and be much smarter here at home.
Did you pick up on it — her mention that Trump was bon in same the New York City borough as Islamist gunman Omar Mateen? Was this an attempt to tie Trump to Mateen’s murderous rampage at a gay nightclub via guilt by accident of birth? Or was she perhaps suggesting that all residents of Queens should be thoroughly vetted before they are permitted to cross the border into Manhattan?
Her response immediately after the shooting in June included her observation that “the Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive. We must attack it with clear eyes, steady hands and unwavering determination in pride in our country and our values.” Maybe she could clarify now exactly who she thinks the enemy is. Regardless of her answer, Mateen’s father, Seddique Mir Mateen, has come out in support of Clinton. Does that make Hillary guilty by association?
Finally, and admittedly off-topic, why was she dressed last night like James Bond villain Dr. No?