Even as she luxuriates in her great poll numbers, anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton is going to have it easy tonight in her third and final presidential debate with Donald Trump, ought to reconsider that opinion right now. As happened in the second debate, Clinton will be up against an opponent who will be throwing all his fury and anger at her like a Tasmanian devil. Utterly uncouth and undisciplined, Trump, whose poll numbers are cratering faster than a giant object falling back to earth from the sky, will know no limits to what he will say or allege against Clinton. But that is not the problem. Clinton can handle that.
Rather, Clinton’s problem is Chris Wallace of Fox News Channel, the man who will be moderating tonight’s debate. To be fair, we can reasonably assert that, compared to many of his colleagues at that channel who are well known trumpeters of right-wing outrage, Wallace is possessed of a moderate, decent journalistic temperament. Yet, I seem to have the sneaking feeling that Wallace will attempt some sort of hit job on Clinton and make her stumble enough to create another horserace in the closing weeks of the contest. That could be dangerous. And Wallace has said he would not fact-check during the debate, leaving Trump ample room to manufacture and disseminate lies freely.
The last time Clinton had an interview encounter with Wallace, the outcome wasn’t at all good. Now, Wallace has in his possession all the material he needs to rattle Clinton with and soften her up for what could be a barrage of onslaught from Trump: WikiLeaks email dumps.
Wallace has a history of doing hit jobs disguised as fair-mindedness. He once attempted one on Bill Clinton, Hillary’s husband, but the former president turned the table on him. Watch the video below.
Clinton needs to do exactly what she did at the first debate: Take the fight to Trump rather than play it safe. Pivoting artfully in her answers, she has to convert every “hostile” question from Wallace into an attack on Trump and provoke him into uttering his usual stream-of-consciousness gibberish.
It should be an interesting debate tonight.