Trump has a significant built-in advantage in that there is a lower standard for him — not because the media isn’t tough enough on him, as all the media mavens agree, but because he is the de facto challenger and candidate of change in a change election.
….Trump just needs to seem plausible and the very fact that he is on a presidential debate stage, the most rarified forum in American politics, will benefit him. During the Republican primary debates, the intangibles worked in his favor and they presumably will on Monday, too….As long as he’s firm and calm, he is implicitly rebutting the case against him on temperament. And then he can look for a big moment or two that will be memorable and drive the post-debate conversation in the media that is arguably as important as the debate itself.
I’m not going to say that Lowry is wrong. But if you want to truly see me lose my shit, you’ll have your chance if this is the way the talking heads respond on Monday night. If Trump is as ignorant and bigoted and evasive and blustery as usual, but the media sages stroke their chins and say ever-so-judiciously that he “looked presidential” or some such, I’m going to need someone to hold me down and give me a good stiff injection of that stuff Dr. McCoy always used on Star Trek to knock people out.