De­bate ad­vice for Don­ald Trump

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Cal Thomas

Don­ald Trump scored a gen­tle­man’s “C” in his first de­bate with Hil­lary Clin­ton. She was pro­grammed, like one of those an­droids from the film “West­world,” spew­ing out well-re­hearsed sound bites, smil­ing (some­times con­de­scend­ingly), and even toss­ing in a few wig­gles. It was all de­signed to make her look warm and won­der­ful.

As the say­ing goes, if you can fake sin­cer­ity, you can fake any­thing.

Trump did best when he didn’t fo­cus on him­self, and this is the pat­tern he should fol­low in the next two de­bates.

As a sea­soned de­bater, who has taken on pro­fes­sors and lib­eral thinkers on cam­puses from Har­vard, Dart­mouth and Yale in the east to the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia-Davis in the west, I think I can say with­out too much hubris that I know how to de­stroy a bad ar­gu­ment.

Let’s start with the race is­sue. Hil­lary Clin­ton slammed Trump for com­ments she re­gards as racist. If she tries that again, Trump should ex­tend the road he be­gan to walk down Mon­day night. He was right to say that his op­po­nent and her party have had decades to re­pair the racial di­vide (which Pres­i­dent Obama sug­gested he would do), but that chasm has only widened over the last eight years. Real racism, Trump should say, is re­fus­ing to al­low mi­nor­ity chil­dren in fail­ing pub­lic schools to es­cape them in fa­vor of bet­ter ones sim­ply be­cause many teach­ers’ unions op­pose school choice and con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to the Demo­cratic Party.

Trump should take on the is­sue of poverty and pro­pose a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship with churches and re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions that would be as­signed an in­di­vid­ual in need of help. Th­ese churches then would do all that was nec­es­sary to help that per­son es­cape poverty, in­clud­ing of­fer­ing fi­nan­cial ad­vice, ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion or even babysit­ting ser­vices so this per­son could go to school. Re­tir­ing baby boomers could find new pur­pose in life by help­ing some­one be­come in­de­pen­dent of gov­ern­ment pro­grams, which have cost a lot, but have done lit­tle to re­duce the num­ber of poor.

Trump should ask Clin­ton why she thinks gov­ern­ment is the an­swer to so many of the na­tion’s prob­lems when, in real­ity, it has too of­ten caused or con­trib­uted to this coun­try’s ills. She wants to grow gov­ern­ment even more, spend­ing ad­di­tional bil­lions in bor­rowed money, mort­gag­ing the fu­tures of gen­er­a­tions to come. Re­mem­ber when Democrats de­cried debt? That was when a Repub­li­can oc­cu­pied the White House.

Again, dur­ing Mon­day’s de­bate, Trump started to make the case for suc­cess in busi­ness and in life, but he made it more about him­self than oth­ers. Amer­i­cans are in­spired by sto­ries of peo­ple who have over­come ob­sta­cles, and Trump should not only tell their sto­ries, he should start fea­tur­ing them in his po­lit­i­cal ads and on stage with him — as he has done with vet­er­ans. In­spi­ra­tion has al­ways been the fuel that ig­nites eco­nomic and per­sonal growth.

One sub­ject we didn’t hear dis­cussed in the first de­bate was the Con­sti­tu­tion. Clin­ton said she be­lieves in a “liv­ing Con­sti­tu­tion,” mean­ing it is open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion by lib­eral judges to fit the times. What does Trump be­lieve about our found­ing doc­u­ment?

On nu­clear weapons, Trump needs to em­brace Ron­ald Rea­gan’s view (and that of Pres­i­dent Obama) that they need to be re­duced, es­pe­cially in rogue regimes. Talk of us­ing such weapons is ir­re­spon­si­ble, though our ad­ver­saries must be­lieve we would use them if at­tacked. The prospect of mu­tu­ally as­sured de­struc­tion dur­ing the Cold War en­sured nu­clear weapons would not be used. Ex­trem­ist regimes, like Iran, do not ap­pear to fear a nu­clear apoc­a­lypse.

Lastly, how about ap­peal­ing to per­sonal ac­count­abil­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity in the sec­ond de­bate? Let’s hear about en­ti­tle­ment re­form, en­ti­tle­ments be­ing the main driver of debt. As I have ar­gued, gov­ern­ment should be a last re­sort, not a first re­source — a safety net, not a ham­mock.

More than miss­ing emails and Clin­ton’s char­ac­ter (which is al­ready fixed in the minds of most peo­ple), vot­ers want to hear about sub­jects that will af­fect their lives. It’s about us more than them. If Trump can close that deal, he is likely to score a “B” in the next de­bate. If he scores higher, he just might win in Novem­ber.

Cal Thomas is syn­di­cated by Tri­bune Me­dia Ser­vices.

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