(or a look at Debate Three)
Let’s not bury the lede. Trump’s refusal to say he’ll honor the results of the election was the worst answer in presidential debate history. He said he’ll keep us in suspense. Ironically, that statement ended any suspense in this election. The only losers on the Clinton side are the members of her transition team. They’re going to have to start working three weeks earlier than they expected.
Even without the mother of all blunders, it was a bad night for Trump. Let’s start with one exception. Trump is effective at expressing the feeling among Americans that our leaders are often outmatched in foreign affairs. However, complimenting Putin — and even Assad — is not a good way to express that disatisfaction. Even if Trump heard somewhere that Assad outsmarts us, it’s important to note that he definitely out-genocides us. Donald needs to find a better mentor.
Here some other quick takes on the final debate (and I think we’re all bigly happy that they’re finally over).
- Trump’s key military argument is that we fail because we tell the enemy what we’re going to do. Well, the Democrats have been telling Trump they’re going to try to get under his skin and watch him self-destruct. And it works every time. Think about that. Every time.
- Tonight may have been the first time Trump has interacted with a woman on a Las Vegas stage without trying to slip her a twenty.
- “You rip the baby out of the womb.” The bombasity of this phrase is enough on its own. But it’s especially ridiculous because Trump has said in the past that he is “very pro choice.” Someone should have reached in and ripped the baby out of this presidential race a long time ago.
- Kudos to Trump for reaching out to Latinos with some Spanish. Even the bad hombres had to appreciate that gesture.
- Chris Wallace did the best job of any of the moderators. But it’s troubling that this journalist (and, in fairness, just about every other one) so freely pulls quotes from hacked, personal emails. It’s a slippery slope. Inbox zero is a good goal. Privacy zero isn’t. And a related point: Hillary was dead right when she explained that her open borders comment referred to energy. Wallace should have acknowledged that.
- I’ve been surprised by some of the post-debate analysis arguing that Trump was doing well for the first 40 minutes of the debate. From what I’ve seen, the pussy grabbing Trump is more impressive than the policy-focused Trump. Go back and review the transcript. He either lies or gets it exactly wrong nearly every time he speaks. We’re not grading this on a curve of this Trump vs earlier Trump performances. The guy is running for president.
- Working for the Trump campaign is like boot camp for political operatives.
- “Nobody respects women like I do.” (Laughter.)
- Donald called Hillary “such a nasty woman.” His key goal for the night was to win back some support among women. This is the guy that’s going to make great deals that we wouldn’t believe? The DSM should buy the rights to Trump’s debate performance. Every dysfunction was on display.
- Hillary’s best moment of the night was when she compared her thirty years of service to America to Trump’s thirty years of service to Trump.
- Hillary went after bin Laden. Trump dealt with Gary Busey. In fairness, I have to call that one a draw.
- Even if you’re not a fan of her policies or her personality, you have to give a ton of credit to Hillary Clinton. No presidential candidate has had to share the stage with anything even close to Donald Trump living out a dry-mouthed, scorched-earth fantasy in real time. But she somehow remained totally composed. Debate teachers will refer to this performance for years.
- Trump’s suggestion that his female accusers are looking for fame wins for absurdity of the night. Yeah, there’s no fame quite like having the alt right attack you relentlessly after you publicly admit to being assaulted by a megalomaniac.
- Towards the end of the debate, Hillary said, “It’s funny but it’s really troubling.” That about sums up the Trump campaign.
- During the past couple of weeks, it occured to me that, these days, this is what guys say to each other in the locker room: “This is crazy. I just can’t believe anyone would vote for Trump.”
- I can’t wait until next season when Trump reveals who won the election!
- There was some upside to Trump’s performance. After the debate, when my son said he gets to stay up later, I just pursed my lips and said: “Wrong.”
- In the end, this was a night with two key takeaways: First, Trump refused to say he’d honor the election results. Second, he’s dangerously wrong on almost every other issue as well.