The first debate is weeks away but tonight’s the first time Clinton and Trump will share a stage — sequentially, not simultaneously. It’s the “commander-in-chief” forum on NBC moderated by Matt Lauer (a friend to the Clinton Foundation, do note), in which service members and veterans will put questions to each nominee. In theory that favors Clinton because of her experience in foreign policy, but in practice? Maybe not. Some of Trump’s time will be eaten up by asking about his personal criticism of John McCain for having been captured in Vietnam and of Mrs. Khan for not speaking during her husband’s Democratic convention speech, and that sort of thing is easily spun. He’ll say that he admires McCain, he admires the Khans, etc etc. Hillary, meanwhile, will be asked about far weightier subjects — her vote for the Iraq war, her dopey Russian reset, her support for the intervention in Libya, and of course Benghazi. When you run through Clinton’s career lowlights in what’s supposed to be her area of expertise, Trump’s inexperience doesn’t seem so troubling. How he fares depends on how substantive the questioners get with him. Will they ask about his chumminess with Putin? His criticism of NATO? His casual suggestion at times that maybe U.S. allies like Japan should consider building nuclear weapons? The fact that he once boasted on a debate stage that the military would obey illegal orders he might issue to target terrorists’ families? He has home-field advantage tonight: According to NBC’s new poll, he leads Hillary among service members and veterans by 19 points.
While we wait, here’s a bit from Glenn Beck today ruminating on Mark Levin’s decision to reluctantly support Trump and the fact that he’s now the last national talk-radio host who’s opposed to both parties’ nominees. He’s not critical of Levin, though. On the contrary, he draws a comparison implicitly between Levin’s understandable lesser-of-two-evils endorsement and the enthusiastic boosterism of people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. Rush spent a chunk of time on the air today grumbling about “conservative intellectuals.” Why? Because too many of them oppose Trump. Hannity spent a chunk of time on his show last night warmly receiving Julian Assange, a guy whose arrest he’s called for in the past. Why? Because Assange, in leaking stuff that damages Clinton, is now helpful to Trump. That’s a perfect simulacrum of Trump’s own moral calculus: Whatever’s good for Trump is good, whatever isn’t is bad. Levin hasn’t made that move.