We have arrived! Yesterday, I told you to think about that split screen incident from 2000, so we might as well start there. Trump's reactions seem to be a big part of the discussion anyway, and a part of why the immediate reaction polls seem to show Clinton perceived as the winner of a contest that bears no resemblance to any task that we ask presidents to perform in office.
Trump probably should have learned a bit from the 2000 incident, as well as the other 2000 incident-- the Rick Lazio moment that pretty much everybody was warning him not to re-create. When Rick Lazio debated Hillary Clinton in the New York Senate race, crossed the stage and got in her face, it played as male aggression, and looked bad. And the press played it up. Every commentator was thinking about this one before the debate, and I guarantee you Kellyanne Conway was begging Trump not to look like Rick Lazio. But, he is Donald Trump, and his self-control is limited.
Interruptions in a debate are normal. Clinton did it, but there's a line, and Trump didn't just cross the line, he whipped it out and urinated on it. To sort-of defend Trump, he would have behaved the same way had he debated a man. How do we know? Because he treated Marco Rubio even worse (remember the "little Marco" stuff?). Call it a double standard if you want, but I'm not here to moralize. I'm just pointing out that this will play, to some extent, like a Rick Lazio thing. Double-standard or not, Trump is an asshole, and it plays differently when he is an asshole to a woman, particularly since he also frequently says misogynistic stuff.
This is where expectations come in. We sort of knew he would do that, at least to some extent. So, does that become the story? Remember, last night isn't important. What is important is how we talk about it now, and if Trump interrupting Clinton more than is normal in a debate doesn't shock us, then we don't talk about it. So what do we talk about? That's to be determined.
And of course, it can change over time. My point yesterday about the split screen issue was that it wasn't the original topic of discussion after the first 2000 debate.
Still, that was a good night for Clinton, and a bad night for Trump. Trump has done well recently by not acting like himself. Last night, he acted like himself because he couldn't help himself. And he has two more of these things.
Now, if Clinton really wants to get under Trump's skin, here's how she starts the next debate: ask Trump if he took a nap beforehand. He seemed to get kind of tired and flustered towards the end of the first one. You know, stamina is important...