Remember the kid your mother told you about? The one she knew was going to get you in trouble? Multiply that maternal wisdom and certainty by many orders of magnitude, and you begin to understand the presidential debate of September 26, 2016 between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton has the magic touch. Everything, and everyone, she touches turns to a shriveled, black lump of malignancy. Those she hates—and that’s pretty much everyone in America—are put on enemies lists, their character is assailed, they’re marginalized, slandered, and attacked in every way the powerful can manage. The Clinton war rooms—who, for God’s sake, has a “war room” staffed with willing sycophants with even fewer scruples than Hillary Clinton? Where does one find such people?—are ubiquitous, and function even when the Clintons are not in elective office.
Of course, not everyone that works for the Clintons is a person of evil intent and malleable character, but a great many are, and cleave to her because they know they’re making a deal with the Devil. But unlike the kinds of trouble one experienced as a child led by a malicious friend, Hillary’s sycophants commit multiple federal felonies, end up taking the Fifth, engage in monumental cover ups, destroy lives, and become complicit in the destruction of nations, the deaths of noble Americans, and the slaughter of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of innocents, to say nothing of the destruction of America.
Hillary Clinton is a greedy, selfish, entitled, hateful, cruel, petty and vicious woman. She needed to hide that on the debate stage. She couldn’t. She is the face of all that is wrong with the political class, with the global elite. She couldn’t hide that either. She is four more years of Barack Obama on steroids, and has promised to be even worse. She’s actually running on throwing huge numbers of hard-working Americans out of work, on taking away their rights, and on importing millions of illegal aliens–including terrorists–and supporting them with taxpayer billions.
Donald Trump is a successful businessman. As such, he has a ruthless side and a charming side. He can be full of New Yawk bluster and bullshit, but he can also be caring and altruistic. The people behind the scenes, working men and women, find themselves surprised when he takes the time to actually speak with them in a genuine, human way, a way Hillary Clinton can’t even successfully fake. He knows how to take advantage of an opponent, but doesn’t generally do it in a polished, professionally rhetorical way. He often focuses on the personal, and doesn’t take advantage of openings a seasoned debater would exploit in a second.
All of this is both a failing and an advantage for an electorate that thinks, by a roughly 70% to 30% margin that America is on the wrong path, and Hillary is the embodiment of that wrong.
In this debate Hillary needed to hide her true self. She needed to present herself as the wise, experienced statesman, a woman of integrity and accomplishment, the most qualified person ever to seek the presidency. But above all, she needed to present herself as trustworthy, honest, the kind of person upon which anyone could rely. She failed—at all of it. The smug, smirking, hateful harridan always lurking behind the plastic smile, the loud, grating, robotic delivery–I’ve little doubt she was given Lester Holt’s questions in advance–and hardened layers of hair spray and makeup can’t be suppressed for long.
Donald Trump needed to demonstrate he is presidential, that he can calmly and rationally discuss the issues of the day, and demonstrate the acumen necessary to the job. He needed to radiate strength and determination, and reasonable knowledge of the issues. He needed to suppress, for the most part, the New Yawk bluster, and tone down the bullshit. He, with a few regressions, succeeded. He also needed to present himself as what he is: a nearly complete change from the status quo. In that too, he succeeded.
I have taught high school and college speech and debate. Were I scoring the debate by those sorts of standards—I’d have to do it loosely; those forms of debate have little relation to a presidential debate—I would have to give Hillary a very slight edge, far more narrow than most might imagine, and again because I suspect she had unethical help in preparation. However, by the standards that matter most to most Americans outside the media, punditocracy and the professional political classes, Trump won going away, and he did it merely by appearing presidential, and not, for the most part, allowing himself to be baited.
Neither Trump nor Clinton likely changed many minds with their performances, but Trump is on the rise in the polls. He has, for the moment, the momentum, with more terrible revelations of corruption and criminality on the horizon for Clinton. He leaves the Hofstra stage no worse than before, and likely, somewhat better.
And Lester Holt, the so-called moderator? I’ll let The New York Post explain:
Still, having put Trump on the hot seat on a couple of questions, and giving no such pushback to Clinton, Holt then got into a third tug-of-war with the GOP standard-bearer, demanding that Trump answer for his remark that Clinton didn’t have “the look” of a president.
When Trump tried to change the subject to stamina, Holt (and then Clinton) pressed the point.
So Holt’s questions were fair game, but it’s not the case that Clinton has nothing to be embarrassed about either. Holt might have questioned her about, for instance, the role she played in arranging the sale of American uranium assets to Russia after Clinton and her foundation accepted large checks from shady intermediaries. He might have noted that she was chided by the FBI for her reckless mishandling of classified information, or that she put sensitive national security information on a server, less secure than Gmail, that could easily be hacked by the Russians. He could have asked her whether she could be trusted about her health given that she apparently wasn’t going to tell the public she had pneumonia until she collapsed on 9/11 (and even then stonewalled for hours).
Holt may have intended to be even-handed. He may have believed that of himself, perhaps even the day after. But one can’t work in the echo chamber of a major network, where virtually everyone thinks, speaks, and believes in exactly the same way, and expresses those beliefs in exactly the same terms, without being affected. Holt had before him a woman responsible for enormous damage to national security, whose indifference cost innumerable lives, who angrily yelled “what difference does it make?” when confronted with her lies and failings, who lied, over the coffins of those that died because of her indifference, to the survivors of those dead Americans and later accused them of lying about her lying, who committed innumerable federal felonies. Holt did nothing with those issues, but ruthlessly fact-checked and argued with Trump over the birther issue? Holt could not have been more helpful to Hillary if he had actively coordinated with her campaign toadies. Perhaps he did. Typical.
Hillary hates everybody. All of the police are racists, and so are the rest of us, Hillary excepted, presumably:
I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police.
Trump and his campaign had better exploit this incredible opening. Not only has Hillary claimed every Republican is her enemy, and most of Trump’s supporters are deplorables, now every American is a racist. Oh yes: she’ll bring about the racial healing so lacking under Barack Obama.
Hillary hammered the birther issue–with the assistance and insistence of Candy Crowley–ooops! I mean Lester Holt–and claimed there was no evidence Obama was born out of the USA. Interestingly, Obama himself, and his literary agent, claimed, for years, that he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. Trump, unfortunately, was apparently unaware of this, and let himself be distracted by the issue, which was, of course, the entire point of Holt in bringing it up. Who cares about the birther issue?
Holt frequently interrupted, argued with, and contradicted Trump. He did no such thing with Clinton. He did, however, ignore every issue exposing her horrible weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
As always, virtually everything Clinton said was bland, the usual meaningless rhetoric, or lies.
The Hofstra audience did its best to loudly and uproariously support Clinton. Whenever Trump was nailing her to the wall–he had so many missed opportunities–one could hear crickets chirping.
Hillary Bragged about flying to over 100 nations. Trump could have nailed her in many ways, including demanding she name a single accomplishment for all that luxury jet seat time, but wasted the opportunity. Earnest Hemingway said one should never mistake motion for action. That one’s free, Mr. Trump. You’re welcome.
Trump did have a good point about Hillary telling our enemies what she is and isn’t willing to do to defeat them–which means, of course, she’ll never defeat them.
Overall, I too often found myself exclaiming “come on, Trump!” when he missed obvious opportunities.
Donald Trump has, as a private citizen, expressed an occasional opinion about politicians, policies and world events. Hillary Clinton has screwed up America and the world.
Final Thought: The polls. Online polls taken after the debate, including Drudge, Time, etc. show Trump declared the winner by up to a 90% to 10% margin. What does this mean? America—except die-hard Democrats that would vote for Satan himself as long as he mouthed the proper progressive platitudes, know Hillary all too well. They know she’s incompetent, cruel, entitled, hateful, and dangerous to democracy. They’re just waiting to assure themselves that Trump is, at minimum, acceptable. They’re not looking for an Abraham Lincoln, they just want a president that won’t take down western civilization. Trump is doing much, much better than that. The presidency remains his to lose.