Mercifully, we are just hours away from the final debate of the 2016 presidential election cycle. Sadly, we still have to watch the damn thing.
Here are four things you can expect.
1. Trump Won’t Try To Win. On Wednesday, the Trump campaign also announced that they would bring Barack Obama’s half-brother to the debate. This is not designed to win votes. It’s designed to rev up the base – a base far too small to win anything. Trump supporters may want Trump to win, but Trump has given up. He’s now attempting to shore up a subscriber base for his post-election network, as I’ve said for months. And that means throwing red meat. In what world would bringing the sitting president’s half-brother to a debate mean anything electorally? No world. But it means everything to the Breitbart commenters who will be paying $10 a month to watch Laura Ingraham jabber with Milo Yiannopoulos about European ethnonationalism. Note: according to CNN, Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon was asked whether Trump TV was in the works. “Trump is an entrepreneur,” he answered.
2. The Poop Will Hit The Fan. Because Trump is only interested in demonstrating to his most ardent supporters that he’s the real truthteller, he’s going to humor every insane theory Infowars ever posited. He’ll go full Alex Jones. After all, Alex Jones is a very wealthy man – and he got wealthy peddling conspiracy theories and wild allegations. Trump’s of that ilk. Why not just go for it? He’s got the biggest stage to say whatever he wants that anyone will ever have. Now’s the moment to unleash National Enquirer rumors about Hillary’s bisexuality. Now’s the time to trot out Bill’s alleged love child. Anything goes.
3. Trump Will Attack His Own Party. Because Trump is losing badly, he has to find someone to blame – and it can’t just be the media and voter fraud. He has to target the people who said all along that he would be a disaster of a candidate, that he would crush the party. He has to say instead that he wanted to crush the party, that the party is the reason that the country is failing, and that they stabbed him in the back because he’s just too much of a fighter. He has to pose as Braveheart and cast Republicans who haven’t bent the knee as Robert The Bruce. Watch for him to turn and smack Paul Ryan as hard as possible. That excites the people who will find an excuse for him collapsing electorally and still sign him a check.
4. Trump Will Make Some Legitimate Points About Hillary. This is actually the biggest problem – hidden beneath all the conspiratorial nonsense and snake oil peddling, Trump will say things that are absolutely true about Hillary Clinton. He’s supposed to bring the fiancée of Chris Stevens to the debate as well as Benghazi mom Pat Smith, so he’ll certainly drop that issue. It will be well-deserved. But because it will be coming from the non-credible Trump, it will actually do damage to the argument that Hillary did something horrifying in Libya. The same is true with regard to voter fraud: it exists, it’s serious, and we ought to do something about it. But Trump saying that he’ll only lose because of voter fraud while down double digits in some polls discredits the argument.
Tonight, Hillary Clinton just has to sit there and absorb Trumpian attacks. He has to make the pitch for Trump TV: Hair and Unbalanced. Get ready for the spectacle.