Yes, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hate talking about substance, particularly at a deep level. Hillary is running a dry, disciplined, textbook campaign and Trump is distracted by literally everything, no exceptions. Their followers may support them thanks to the policies they believe they’ll espouse, but the candidates don’t seem particularly good at making policy the centerpieces of their campaigns.
Trump’s message is something about fighting the corruption of DC and the failure of the elite to make better immigration, economic, or foreign policy. But all of that is subordinate to whatever distracts him at a given moment. Clinton’s message seems to be that she will keep the gravy train rolling and she is not Donald Trump.
The media should, like Wallace did in the debate, focus at least somewhat more on policy despite the desire of both candidates to focus on Trump’s personal life. Whether or not Clinton or Trump or even the American people care about entitlements, entitlement collapses will care about them. Whether or not they’re more interested in beauty pageant goings-on than foreign policy, a war with Russia could change that perspective.
And the people should, like Mr. Nolan of Mission Viejo, demand more substance as well. The media we get is the one we tolerate and ask for. Stories about substantive policy disagreements don’t bring in as many viewers and readers as other stories. It’s foolish to expect journalists — with a few notable exceptions such as Jake Tapper of CNN — to make substantive policy discussions a priority and to make them fun and interesting to watch.