“Anything is better than lies and deceit!” ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Last night was the great debate, which I chose not to watch for the sake of my sanity. I logged off of Facebook when comments began flying there, and finally shut down the computer after friends began messaging their own angst as they watched. One friend messaged: “I really tried Jill to listen to the whole debate, but when he started ranting and lying, I couldn’t take it anymore. I’ll check it out tomorrow. Sorry.” I felt so sorry for her that I told her to read a book, put on some soft music and have a glass of wine. Hopefully she did.
That said, when I got to bed just after midnight, I couldn’t resist … just a teeny peek at the New York Times, I promised myself. I was so encouraged by what my ‘teeny peek’ revealed that I spent the next two hours reading the punditS’ take on the New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico! All the reasonably unbiased analysts have given the debate to Ms. Clinton, saying that Trump’s lies and rudeness cost him the debate, while her calm and measured answers won the day. The few snippets I have seen show Hillary poised, smiling, looking relaxed, while Trump twitched, made faces, sniffed, and drank a lot of water!
While most of the mainstream have called Hillary Clinton the winner, predictably Fox News and Breitbart declare Trump the winner, though it must have taken some uniquely imaginative thinking to put that spin on it. Having read the transcript and a dozen or so analyses, and watched several snippets, my vote is for Clinton. Though she made a few gaffes, they were not widely noticed or commented on in light of Trump’s continual interruptions, horn-tootings, and downright lies. Several of his lies were so blatant that a fact-checker was not even needed … your average third-grader could have picked them out. Fox News, interestingly, claims that Trump’s statement about not having spoken in support of the Iraq war, a statement we have all seen proven to be a lie at least 100 times this year, was actually the truth. Facts, apparently, are subject to interpretation.
And now the blame game begins. Apparently even Trump himself realized that he came in third in this debate (Clinton and Holt both outweighed him intellectually), as he and his minions immediately began finding excuses. First there was “They gave me a defective mic … [I] wonder, was that on purpose?” Then the moderator, Lester Holt, was to blame: “I’d give him a C, C+. I thought he was fine. Nothing outstanding. I thought he gave me very unfair questions at the end — the last three, four questions.”
“If I were Donald Trump I wouldn’t participate in another debate unless I was promised that the journalist would act like a journalist and not an incorrect, ignorant fact checker. The moderator would have to promise that there would be a moderator and not a fact checker and in two particular cases an enormously ignorant, completely misinformed fact checker.” – Rudy Giuliani
And then there was finger-pointing that moderator Holt chose questions that favoured Clinton, while ignoring questions that might have put her on the spot, such as questions about the Clinton Foundation. Trump likes to win … we have all heard him say so many times. So what happens when he obviously did not win? Then somebody, somewhere, somehow, must be to blame, for Trump is wonderful and could not possibly lose unless something was rigged or otherwise unfair, right?
The bottom line, though, is that while the verdict is unanimous that Clinton was heads above Trump in knowledge, temperament and poise, and by all accounts ‘won’ the debate, it is not likely to do much to help her win the election. Some 11% of registered voters are still considered to be ‘undecided’, and it will take more than one successful debate to win them over. A debate win is “in the eye of the beholder”, and as Adam Troy-Castro says, “Approximately half the electorate thinks it’s great that Trump tried to drown her out. If anything, they’re upset with him for seeming to get tired of doing that, after half an hour or so. Approximately half the electorate hates her for speaking in complete sentences, and would like to wipe that smile off her face.” Still, I am very pleased by Ms. Clinton’s performance last night, and hope she goes into the next two debates (10/9 & 10/19) as well prepared as she was last night.
All in all, the brief bits I saw of it and the analyses I read indicate that it was rather like watching a showdown between a mature adult and a sniveling, whiny, temperamental 4-year-old. But then, that has been the tone of the entire election season for the past 15 months, yes?
I leave you with three of my favourite snippets from last night’s debate:
CLINTON: In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, “Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.” Well, it did collapse.
TRUMP: That’s called business, by the way.
CLINTON: Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.
TRUMP: I did not. I did not. I do not say that.
CLINTON: I think science is real.
TRUMP: I do not say that.
CLINTON: … they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.
TRUMP: That makes me smart.
And just a few toots of the brass instrument from da trumpeter:
- TRUMP: And when I look at what’s going on in Charlotte, a city I love, a city where I have investments.
- TRUMP: You don’t have good community relations in Chicago. It’s terrible. I have property there. It’s terrible what’s going on in Chicago.
- TRUMP: I just left Philadelphia, and I just — you know, you’ve seen me, I’ve been all over the place. You decided to stay home, and that’s OK. But I will tell you, I’ve been all over.
- TRUMP: I think that I’ve developed very, very good relationships over the last little while with the African-American community. I think you can see that. (A bit of reality here … he has garnered between 0%-2% in the polls among African-American voters)
Here is a link to the annotated transcript, for any of you who haven’t heard enough already.