I did it. I forced myself to watch the debate last night. Well, I’m not sure debate is the proper term for what I witnessed, but I’ll go with the conventional term for now.
I will now begin my exercise in futility by offering my take on what happened. Why call it an exercise in futility? Because probably no one’s mind will be changed by what I say today. Minds were made up prior to the debate. No matter what, Hillary supporters will say she won and Trump supporters will say he emerged the victor.
Yet here I go anyway.
What I saw at the beginning of the debate was two calm candidates, both trying to impress upon the vast audience that they can be trusted to lead the Free World. Throughout the debate, the usual lies reared their ugly heads: Hillary with her e-mails, Trump with his business dealings and his birtherism, just to name a few.
Hillary’s demeanor was smug most of the time, and she really pandered to her base with her comments about how the justice system is replete with systemic racism and police need to be retrained. Her statements about the administration’s wonderful deal with Iran were cringe-worthy.
But at least she kept her cool and didn’t have a physical breakdown from whatever ailments she suffers.
Trump was in familiar territory at the beginning when talking about the economy and jobs. For the first 15-20 minutes, he seemed to be in control and looked as presidential as it is possible for him to look.
Then Hillary attacked his business ethics. The game changed.
She apparently learned that the one way to get his goat is to attack the Trump Brand. He never lets that go, but will defend himself endlessly. And “endlessly” is how I can best describe his ramblings for the rest of the evening.
He started to constantly interrupt (his trademark tactic during all the primary debates), he became irritated, pretty much lost his cool, and practically came off the rails by the time the debacle was over.
Some of you will think I’m just projecting my dislike for Trump into my perception of how he handled himself, but honestly, how can anyone have watched the last 45 minutes or so and not seen him disintegrate before your eyes? It takes blinders of magnificent proportions not to admit that he melted down publicly.
And then, after all his incoherent ramblings, he had the lack of self-awareness to pontificate on how he had the “best” temperament. It was like watching a comedy routine.
All Hillary had to do for the final 20 minutes was stand there and let him demonstrate his incoherence. You could see the smile on her face and practically feel her relaxing. He was doing her job for her.
Please, listen objectively to this man. He never really answered the questions put to him but just repeated incessantly that things are awful and we need to do better. How? Where are the specifics? And when it came to foreign policy, he was in uncharted territory, showing the world that he didn’t even bother to prepare for this debate.
The birtherism issue was the most painful to watch. I won’t go into the details, but I dare you to make sense of what he said on that topic.
And please, don’t try to blame it all on the moderator. That’s a cop-out.
David French commented that after the first 15 or 20 minutes, it was like the SS Trump hit the iceberg, then backed up and hit it again just for fun.
French also said that if we hadn’t just lived through the first nine months of 2016, he would have to say that Trump was toast after this performance. What did he mean? Only that Trump should have been toast long ago, but this year we have entered into some kind of alternate reality in which somehow it doesn’t matter anymore that a presidential candidate is bonkers.
What bothers me the most is that people that I normally would trust to be intelligent will look at what happened last night and come away saying that Trump did fine. That is depressing.
So we have, on the one side, a failed secretary of state who put the nation’s security at risk with her e-mail server and who will continue the disaster of the Obama years if she is put in charge—and on the other side a clueless, self-absorbed pathological liar who will take us on his own unique downward path.
If sanity were to prevail, neither of these people would be allowed to ever enter the White House, even as visitors.