While some folks we know did not watch last night's presidential debate - some said it was too painful to watch, especially Donald Trump's behavior - the husband and I watched every minute of it. Overall, I thought Hillary Clinton was the clear winner, which seems to be the majority view, but more on that below. Perhaps the most laughable/frightening moment was when Trump said he thought his temperament - that of a petulant first grader - best qualified him for the presidency. Trump surrogates had claimed that he had prepared for the debate "in his own way" and had criticized Clinton for the time she took to prepare. The result? Trump came across clueless and unprepared on many points and reverted back to some of his tried and true lies. The problem for Trump is that what works at rallies filled with his demented followers does not work on an internationally viewed one on one debate. The following is a sampling of some of the critiques of last nights debate. First, the liberal perspective from Jonathan Capehart from the Washington Post:
For 90 minutes, we watched one candidate for president display the seriousness the office demands while the other did what was once unthinkable: show up unprepared for a globally televised job interview. . . . . Trump brought the vaudeville shtick that worked for him in the primaries to the main stage and bombed.Trump’s performance was the rhetorical equivalent of hurling garbage on the lawn. A question about x would lead to mentions of y, z and whatever else came to mind. For instance, a response about Hillary Clinton’s emails led to a mention about the sorry state of New York’s LaGuardia Airport. And then there were the gasp-worthy moments that would sink any other presidential aspirant.
Clinton said the only time Trump’s tax returns were seen was when he sought a casino license. “[T]hey showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax,” the Democratic nominee charged. Trump’s response? “That makes me smart.” Neither average Americans nor the Clintons (who have released more than three decades of tax returns) could get away with that.
On the conservative side from the Post, Jennifer Rubin, until this year typically an apologist for the GOP, let loose on Trump as well:If there was one undeniable truth spoken by Clinton at the debate, it came in response to Trump’s dig at her for “stay[ing] home” last week. “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did,” Clinton said. “And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president.” Kaboom.
[L]like Super Bowl games to which the Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump debate was frequently compared, it was not as competitive as one might have imagined. Clinton came away the winner, accomplishing what she set out to do.
She wasn’t warm and fuzzy, but she was calm, cool and in command of her facts. She hit more than once his “Trumped up trickled down” tax plan, a winner with her supporters. She made a pitch for gun control, extolled African American families and urged anti-bias training for police. She prodded Trump to agree that we should take guns away from people on the no-fly list. (The National Rifle Association won’t be pleased.) She slammed Trump when he accused her of preparing for the debate. . . . . she reamed him for his statements on nuclear weapons and willingness to allow other countries to get the bomb.
Trump was soon back to classic Trump — inveighing against trade and making bizarre comments. . . . He incorrectly stated that “stop and frisk” had not been ruled unconstitutional. At times he seemed to babble, running out of material. He still has not bothered to flesh out proposals or to broaden his grasp of issues. His meandering answer on first use of nuclear weapons suggested he had no idea what the issue was. Trump blundered accusing Clinton of lacking stamina, giving her an opportunity to boast of her own travels and recount his insults against women.
His worst moments came as he continued to defend raising the birther issue and claimed credit for prompting President Obama to produce his birth certificate. Clinton laid into him, slamming him for starting his political career by trying to de-legitimize the first African American president. “A racist lie” is what she called it. She raised the lawsuit from the 1970s for housing discrimination.
Trump needed to conceal his temper, avoid queries on his taxes and dalliance with birtherism, and appear ready to be president. He didn’t. . . . . The first debate win goes to Clinton.
Going over to the arguably less "liberal" Politico, the "insider" verdict on Trump's loss of the debate was similar. Here are highlights of that:
Score round 1 for Hillary Clinton. That’s according to The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of swing-state activists, strategists and operatives who watched the first debate here Monday night. The insiders’ bipartisan verdict: Clinton dispatched Donald Trump in their first of three nationally televised meetings.
Overall, roughly 80 percent of insiders — with equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans responding to the post-debate survey — said Clinton did the better job at the debate, including 99 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Republicans.
“No contest,” said an Iowa Democrat — who, like all respondents, completed the survey anonymously. “Trump held it together for 16 minutes and fell apart.”
Among Republicans, the tally was closer — but that speaks to a divided party as much as actual ambivalence about which candidate performed better on Monday night.
“Trump was an embarrassment,” an Iowa Republican said. “I'd hate to be the guy in the spin room lying about how Trump won the debate.”
“It wasn't close,” a Virginia Republican added. “Sure, our tribal politics will force it to seem somewhat close, but even the most committed of Trump supporters know, deep down, that did not go well.”
The vast majority of all insiders, 88 percent, said Clinton met expectations going into Monday night. That includes nearly three-quarters of Republicans: One Florida Republican called Clinton “calm in the face of an insane person.”
“Put plainly: he failed the presidential test,” a Virginia Republican added. “And hiding out on Fox News isn't going to fix it for him.”
Trump lost. Really, I think we can work under the assumption that when a candidate is accused of cheering for the housing crisis, it’s not a good plan to reply: “That’s called business, by the way.”
There had been some speculation that all Trump needed to do was speak in complete sentences to beat expectations, and if that was the bar, the man did great. When Hillary Clinton suggested he might be withholding his federal returns because he never paid any taxes, he responded: “That makes me smart.” Complete sentence.
There’s something terrifying in the way Trump can’t admit error, even in a case where the incorrect statement in question has become world-famous. There are undoubtedly people in Chad who know that Trump supported the invasion of Iraq before it happened. But when it came up on Monday, he denied it once again, arguing that his much-quoted interview on “The Howard Stern Show” was something else entirely:
Both of these candidates have a lot of baggage and Clinton got past her email burden by admitting she was wrong and saying she was sorry. Not the perfect apology, but it got her through the night.
Trump, for his part, could have anticipated that the business of calling women pigs, slobs and dogs would come up. The correct answer, as his advisers undoubtedly hinted, was to say he regretted it, and hoped he’d be a better example for his 10-year-old son. His actual response was to: 1) Claim that nobody likes Rosie O’Donnell; 2) Congratulate himself for not saying “something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family"; and 3) Point out that the polls are looking good.
People tuned in to see Trump and he didn’t disappoint. Not every politician would respond to a comment about how he got his start in business with $14 million in family money with: “My father gave me a very small loan.”
Remember when we made fun of Mitt Romney for his privileged background? Hahahahaha.