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The Guardian view on the US presidential debate: Hillary needs a slogan to sum up what she stands for | Editorial

Editorial: Mondays television debate will be watched by 100 million Americans. The Democratic candidate should seize a chance to show she is motivated by the common good

When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump square off on television next week it will be the largest audience of their long careers, which both have lived in the glare of limelight. More than 100 million Americans are expected to tune in on the evening of 26 September an astonishing viewership that would rank the event as among one of the most watched television broadcasts in US history. The rest have been Super Bowls. Mondays debate, 56 years to the day after the first televised duel between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon, will almost certainly be aturning point in a turbulent election year inAmerica 12 months that have thrown into sharp relief the countrys deep polarisation and the breakdown of the Republican party. The course of debates can turn on personal defects, such as Richard Nixons five oclock shadow in 1960. The screen can magnify character flaws and highlight a candidates competence. Ronald Reagans much-quoted putdown of Jimmy Carter there you go again underlined the fact he was offering not only change, but opened viewers eyes tohis vision of America. Bill Clinton, then the insurgent outsider, pulled off the same trick in making then president George HW Bush look out of touch in 1992.

In this election the TV debate offers a chance for each candidate a chance to reset the narrative of their campaign. Mr Trump, a businessman-demagogue trading in crude economic populism, has less reason to do so. Last weeks terrorist attacks play into his claims that America is under siege. Democrat Hilary Clintons recent bout of pneumonia bolstered his nod-and-wink comments about her failing health. While Mrs Clinton has endured some of the worst weeks of her campaign, her Republican rival has been stealing headlines. While Mrs Clinton remains ahead in the polls, the momentum is with her rumour-mongering opponent. On paper Mrs Clinton should be able to swat away her opponent. She has the experience, the public policy competence and the chance to make history as the first female commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation on earth. She is also a better debater than retail politician.

The trouble with Mrs Clinton is twofold. One is biography. Thanks to being a public figure for decades, her positions today often contradict her publicly stated beliefs. Is she for intervention in Syria or not? Is she repudiating free trade deals she once championed or not? Does she want more government help in healthcare or not? Little wonder, perhaps, that key voter groups such as millennials fail to warm to Mrs Clinton. The second problem for the former first lady and ex-secretary of state is that she is the continuity candidate in this election. She promises more of the same.

Her opponent does not. Mr Trumps dog-whistle campaign has torn America apart along lines of race, gender and education. This is not just a break with the past, but threatens to splinter the country into warring parts. It would be a mistake to underestimate the real estate magnate. Mr Trumps skill is his appeal to reptilian instincts. These reflexive inherent tendencies developed in humans to override a brains more sophisticated emotional response in times of crisis. This may explain why Mr Trump favours chaos over stability. The billionaire is also an accomplished television performer, bringing out the inner reptile on 14 seasons of his US reality show The Apprentice. Cruel patter as entertainment was his trademark. In the Republican primaries he wiped out opponents used to playing by different rules.

What Trumpism projects is pretty clear: building a wall; taking on China; Americanism not globalism. Mrs Clinton seems to have a hundred carefully costed policies but not one eye-catching slogan. She radiates a sensible incrementalism. She campaigns in prose, leaving poetry to her predecessor. This is a mistake. She needs to focus on what is driving discontent in America: an economic system that no longer defuses high levels of inequality with opportunities for all. Mrs Clinton may argue that after years of watching their incomes go nowhere, Americas middle class finally got a big raise last year the first increase since 2007, the year before the Great Recession started. However, the middle classes remain poorer than in 2000. Thats 15 years of going backward. Mrs Clinton needs to find a resonant theme to sum up her policies: a Marshall Plan for the middle classes would not be a bad idea. Monday is her chance to show she is motivated by the common good. Mrs Clinton should seize it.

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TV upfronts: CBS promises Good Wife spinoff; the CW goes big on superheroes

The most popular network and its youthful sister decide to stick with whats working: more procedurals on CBS and plenty of spandex and capes on the CW

CBS is like Hillary Clinton at an Indian restaurant: she knows what she likes and shes not going to get too adventurous. At the television upfronts this week, where the networks present their new fall schedules to advertisers, the eye network just ordered up more of the same: procedurals and traditional sitcoms featuring well-worn funnymen.

Its sister network the CW is always chasing after the young people and there seems to be only one thing those young people want: superheroes. The network even poached Supergirl from CBS.

CBS showed off what they have in store on Wednesday, and the big change is that theyve revitalized their Monday comedy block by shipping Supergirl off to the CW and pushing Scorpion back to 10pm to make way for four comedies. Kevin Can Wait, a new sitcom starring Kevin James as a retired cop who has to deal with his insane family, will follow TVs biggest comedy, The Big Bang Theory, at 8.30pm EST until October when Big Bang moves to Thursday. Then Kevin will move to 8pm EST and will be followed by Man with a Plan, starring Matt LeBlanc as a contractor who has to deal with his insane family. Yes, they are essentially the same show. Returning comedies 2 Broke Girls and The Odd Couple fill out the night.

Once the NFL is done taking up Thursdays, Big Bang will introduce The Great Indoors at 8.30pm EST, with Joel McHale as the irascible magazine editor who must oversee a bunch of millennials who work on his publications website. Print media. How quaint! Returning comedies Mom and Life in Pieces fill up Thursday before Pure Genius at 10pm EST. It is about a tech billionaire who funds a new cutting-edge hospital.

Lucas Till as Angus Mac MacGyver coming to Friday nights soon. Photograph: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Well also see the addition of Bull, a show based on the pre-Oprah career of Dr Phil who started one of the biggest trial-consulting firms in the country. That airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST where it is bookended by NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans. MacGyver, about the guy who can make a bomb out of a matchbook, some chewing gum and an old issue of Time magazine, will be on Fridays at 8pm EST after a new pilot is filmed with an entirely new script and mostly new cast.

NCIS: Los Angeles moves to Sundays at 8pm EST where Madam Secretary moves to 9pm to fill the slot vacated by The Good Wife. Sorry, but nothing can fill the slot vacated by The Good Wife in my heart. However, at the upfront presentation CBS did announce that Christine Baranski and Cush Jumbo, who played Diane Lockhart and Luca Quinn, will get their own spinoff series on CBS All Access, the networks streaming service. That will kick off in spring 2017 with All Accesss other original program, a new Star Trek show.

Also in the spring, CBS will roll out Training Day, based on the Denzel Washington movie, and Doubt, a new lawyer show starring Katherine Heigl (again?), The West Wings Dul Hill, and Orange Is the New Blacks Laverne Cox.

The CW is now dedicating four of their 10 hours of original programing to shows adapted from DC Comics. Thats Supergirl on Monday, The Flash on Tuesday, Arrow on Wednesday, and Legends of Tomorrow on Thursday. And then, on the fifth day, Superman rested.

Rachel Bloom with her Golden Globe for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, back for a second season. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

The network is only adding two new shows to its lineup. The Flash will introduce new comedy No Tomorrow at 9pm EST on Tuesdays. Its about a risk-averse young woman (Tori Anderson) who is helping a crazy man (Jesse Rath) who thinks the world is ending in eight months, fulfill his apocalyst of all the things he wants to try before the world ends.

On Wednesdays, Arrow will lead into Frequency at 9pm EST, about a young female detective who is trying to clear the reputation of her father, a dirty cop who was killed years earlier.

Even though Supergirl is taking up some real estate on Mondays, thats not all bad news for cult favorite Crazy Ex-Girlfriend which was renewed for season two (thank all that is holy!) and was moved to Friday at 9pm EST where it is partnered with the also upended Supernatural, which will air at 8pm EST.

Thanks to all of these capes, CW is saving some of its biggest shows The Originals, The 100, iZombie, and Reign for midseason where theyll be joined by the buzzy new show Riverdale, based on the long-running Archie comic book series. That is also produced by Greg Berlanti, who produces all the damn superhero shows too. Man, that guy is busy.

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