Preparing for the Debates

David Sklansky, a well respected poker author, in his book Poker Gaming and Life estimated that of those people who try to become winners in poker without studying, less than 1% succeed.  Of those who study diligently, he believed that about 10% succeed.  Studying makes a huge relative difference and improves your odds of success, despite the fact that many(even most) winners in poker may not study or work on their game.  I am sure you know people who are winners who brag that they have not read a poker book and you might even think that because they were successful that way, maybe that is the best path to take.  It is not.  Studying increases your own chances of becoming a winner in poker in the vast, vast, vast majority of the cases.  That poker player who wins but does not study probably has a natural ability for the game, but imagine how much more he could win if he studied?

There has been a lot of discussion before the debates about how little Donald Trump has prepared and it really bothers me.  He has mocked her practicing for the debates and for her knowledge of the issues.  Winging it and saying whatever crazy idea comes to his head has become his badge of honor.  I am not sure when it became acceptable to look down on those who are working hard and trying to be their best.

There have been so many reports on his unwillingness to learn about policies, do mock debates, read anything longer than one page and to prepare that these things are pretty much as understood as his lack of knowledge and depth on basically every subject.  His reply to most of these criticisms is to say that he is so smart that he does not need to prepare, his style has worked for him in the past and that he has beaten 17 other candidates so why should he change.  This is a fallacious argument that is similar to the poker player who feels no need to study because he is already winning, forgetting about the fact that he could be winning more.

We want our doctors to be educated (not just have a passing interest in science) and to be learned in the newest technologies.  How would you feel if you went in and the doctor said, “bloodletting by leeches has worked in the past, so that is the treatment we are going to go with?”  That is why there is continuing education for most professions.  The fact that Trump is unwilling to work at his newfound craft and thinks he knows everything(“I know more than the generals about ISIS”) speaks volumes about his personality and how he would act as president.  Hillary Clinton, who has spent many years in and around government, is deeply involved in the nuances of policy and has spent the past several months preparing for the debates by doing mock debates, going over topics that might come up and preparing for different lines of attack and defense.

The way Clinton is preparing is the way one should prepare based on the seriousness of the job at hand, the stakes involved and the desire to do the best one can do.  Are you happy with your boss/spouse/doctor who doesn’t try to get better and thinks they know it all?  Why should we settle for that in a president? I hope all the preparation and hard work shines through for her tonight.


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