Politician versus non-politician

In just about any field, somebody can initially fake you out by saying all the right things. But in reality, there is a huge difference between real professionals and people who are just pretending.

The problem comes when the pretenders need to respond to a challenge in real time. That’s when you can really see the difference between simply quoting things that sound good, and actually knowing one’s stuff.

There was a great example of this during the second presidential debate of this election cycle, in the following exchange between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton:

TRUMP: First of all, she was there as secretary of state with the so-called line in the sand, which…

CLINTON: No, I wasn’t. I was gone. I hate to interrupt you, but at some point…

TRUMP: OK. But you were in contact — excuse me. You were…

CLINTON: At some point, we need to do some fact-checking here.

TRUMP: You were in total contact with the White House, and perhaps, sadly, Obama probably still listened to you.

In essence, what Trump had said was correct. Clinton had indeed been the Secretary of State when the “line in the sand” policy was created. But Trump didn’t know that, because he was just reciting sound bites that somebody had fed him.

Clinton — who, unlike Trump, is actually a politician — knew perfectly well that Trump was just reciting words that he himself didn’t fully understand. So she pointed out, correctly, that she was no longer Secretary of State when the Obama administration eventually crossed that “line in the sand”. She knew that Trump would not realize she had switched topics.

Sure enough, Trump took the bait. He was reduced to saying, rather lamely, “You were in total contact with the White House”, and “Obama probably still listened to you,” essentially confirming the impression that Clinton was correct, and that he himself had been wrong.

It was a moment that laid bare the vast difference between an actual politician and an actor who is merely reciting lines.

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