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September 26, 2016

A Night to Remember

Harry M. Covert

On this date 56 years ago, the nation’s presidential election campaigns changed forever. Television was transformed into the monumental tool for politics and politicians.


In all likelihood the national sporting pastimes will take a big back seat to proceedings at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. This is a reminder for any person who possibly may have been too busy staying up-to-date on the national election. Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton and Mr. Donald J. Trump will be on center stage.


Experts in television watching are guessing that viewers totaling more than 111.4 million will tune in to the face-to-face meeting of the former Secretary of State-U.S. senator-FLOTUS Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, and billionaire businessman-mogul and television expert, the unabashed Republican candidate.


The audience could be the largest in history, however it’s counted. Super Bowl XLIX (interpreted No. 49) in 2015 so far has the record. New England’s Patriots were champions over the Seattle Seahawks.


No ratings were taken back on September 26, 1960, when the first of the four verbal encounters between the practically unknown Sen. John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon performed live from Chicago. It was indeed a night to remember. JFK was young and handsome. Mr. Nixon was pleasant but more formal and businesslike. The Massachusetts senator brought a new style to the political game. The vice president did okay, too, but ignored makeup to help erase a pronounced heavy beard and could have used a shave. That was the one-eyed monster setting the pace for new broadcasting appeal.


Fact-checkers will see that the Reagan-Carter joust drew 80.6 million viewers, first-year of Nielsen ratings. The Bush-Clinton-Ross Perot audience was 69.9. The Ford-Carter chat received 69.7 million audience.


Anticipation of tonight’s program is at an all-time high. Each of the broadcast and cable networks is beside themselves with shock-and-awe. They’ll have before-and-after gabfests with experts left and right who’ll be reminding viewers what they saw and heard. There will be lots of commercials. I think it’s a terrible shame that the printed press is being neglected in the candidates’ lively ads and infomercials.


Voters should pay attention to how outrageously expensive this campaign has become. The public keeps hearing how the nation is headed to rack-and-ruin, but it certainly is not evident by reading federal election commission reports.


The two top candidates are getting on each other for how they’ve earned the money. Mrs. Clinton, who was the anointed one of the Democrats, has become a multi-millionaire-plus from her government service. Mr. Trump, who prides himself as not being a politician, learned how to turn hard-work into billions-plus. He’s operated with government opportunities as well as international projects.


Madam Clinton is often criticized for her screeching speechifying. She learned how to capture business attention with orations that brought her some $245,000-plus from the podium. These “conversations” were about government and also included question-and-answer sessions. Opponents can be jealous of these ventures, but who in the world wouldn’t take the fees?


Now, Sir Trump has also endured vicious attacks from opponents for his financial wizardry. But, the Wharton Business School grad has to have credit for spending his own treasure for his campaign. His performance in the Republican Party primaries is something for history to recall. Political scientists are scratching their heads or bald pates. He’s been called every possible derogatory adjective. He appears unsullied and enjoys getting the drop on the gloomy-gusses.


Both the Clinton and Trump families have been friends, including former President Bill Clinton and would-be Commander-in-Chief Trump. With all the ballyhoo of the past year, no matter who wins in a few weeks, they’ll likely be buddies again. Mr. Clinton has spent lots of time being pals with his former competitors. He developed a close relationship with 92-year-old George Herbert Walker Bush. In some manner next year’s No. 45’s schmoozing paid off. The 41st president announced he’s voting for the Democrat nominee. I figure this really came because Mr. Bush’s son Jeb suffered from Mr. Trump’s caustic descriptions.


Does anyone doubt all’s fair in love, war and politics?


Tonight’s debate will be something to see. Two pros are in action and are well-versed in dealing with friends, opponents and voters. No doubt, this might be historical and hysterical. You can bet the world will be watching, friends, foes and especially those learning how to take advantage of the national treasure.


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