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Post-debate musings

September 29, 2016

I’m trying to understand the reactions to Monday night’s debate and failing.  Polls, the real ones not the ones that Trump quotes or even makes up, seem to show that most people believe that Hillary Clinton won the debate and I am not sure why.  Let me be quick to say I am not claiming that Trump won so don’t congratulate me on my ability to see that “the media is biased” or excoriate me for supporting him (which I don’t).

To me it seemed that Trump was his normal self with his bombastic content-free claims, his distant relationship with and/or disregard of facts, and his rude interruptions and comments.  Indeed, his funniest moment was when he congratulated himself for his restraint in not mentioning Bill Clinton’s marital indiscretions because Chelsea was there.  Not only does he think it is laudable for not making noxious comments that most civilized people would never make; he manages to mention them by openly stating he is not going to mention them.

Clinton too was pretty much what I expected.  She had clearly prepared what she was going to say and how she was going to say it.  Her calm “stick to the script” demeanor would have easily won a homeschool debate club contest for 12-year-olds.  But in the Trump-filled alternate political universe we have stumbled into they seemed as artificial and pre-packaged as a box easy-cook macaroni and cheese.  Her funniest moment, well moments because it happened several times, was when she gave an artificial laugh at something she clearly did not see as funny.  You could almost see the instructions “If Trump says this, laugh.” on her notepad.

The general consensus is that, if anything, Trump was under-prepared and Clinton was over-prepared.  I’d agree if it didn’t sound so much like Goldilocks’ assessment of the 3 bear’s porridge.  But whatever the cause I’d say that each missed a golden moment or two.  Trump took one half-hearted shot at Clinton’s e-mails and then simply let the matter drop.  I’ve yet to hear a coherent answer from Clinton on that issue.

Clinton missed two golden moments.  Trump called his paying no taxes “smart” and on his profiting from the collapse of the housing market said, “That’s called business by the way.”  Clinton just let the comments pass.  I have trouble believing that Trump’s working class white voters, many of whom took a beating in that collapse, would be cheered to learn that he made a killing on that misery that collapse has caused or feel that it was a great thing that billionaires didn’t pay taxes.

I doubt the next two debates will be any better.  (I’m not including the VP debate where we try to decide who is best for the job of being sent to places the President doesn’t want to go herself.)  In the meantime I will keep working on my growing list of “How does this compare to what Jesus would say?” moments.

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