Ten Thoughts About the First Presidential Debate


Whew! Even though I expected Hillary Clinton to win the first presidential debate with Donald Trump, watching it was a nerve-wracking experience. Here are my first thoughts about the debate:

1. Hillary had the best demeanor. In general, Clinton came across as composed and cheerful. Trump came across as angry and, occasionally, disdainful.

2. Trump interrupted Clinton either by talking over her or by making snide comments such as, “that’s called business,by the way” — when she noted that Trump “was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis.”

3. Although the Trump campaign has made a lot of fuss about Clinton’s supposed “stamina” problem, it was Trump who wilted in the last half of the debate.

Clinton repeatedly trapped Trump with his own words: “Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.” (Trump denied this but it’s verified by his Tweet.)

4. Roughly one-quarter of the way through the debate, Clinton stood up to Trump: “Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts.” (sic)

5. After Trump blamed the supposed failings of the Obama Administration on Clinton, Hillary quipped: “I have a feeling that by the end of the evening I’m going to blamed for everything that ever happened.” Trump responded, “Why not?” Clinton laughed, “Why not? Yeah, why not?” And the audience laughed with her. Clinton continued, “… just join the debate by saying more crazy things.” Hillary won every round from that point forward.

6. Trump failed to explain why he has not made public his tax returns. When Clinton speculated that “he didn’t pay any federal income tax,” Trump quipped, “That makes me smart.”

7. Roughly half way through the debate, Trump’s responses began to ramble. He didn’t do a good job explaining “people who were stiffed by you.” He didn’t explain why he believe his “stop and frisk policy” was legal, even though it has been ruled unconstitutional. Trump failed to explain why, until recently, he continued his “birther” campaign. (Clinton called this “a racist lie” and noted, “he has a long history of engaging in racist behavior.”)

8. When Clinton noted, “Donald supported the invasion of Iraq,” Trump denied it. When the moderator, Lester Holt, questioned Trump about his statement, Trump again repeated his denial, rambling for several minutes. Trump concluded with, “I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know?” The audience laughed at him. Clinton laughed and shook her head in disbelief, “Whew, OK.”

9. At the end of the debate, Lester Holt reminded Trump that he had said Clinton, “Doesn’t have a presidential look.” Again, Trump rambled trying to explain himself. Clinton nailed him: “He tried to switch from looks to stamina, But this is a man who has called women pigs, slobs, and dogs. Trump defended himself by attacking Rose O’Donnell: “I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it.”

10. At the beginning of the debate, Hillary Clinton addressed the audience; “You have to judge us, who can shoulder the immense, awesome responsibilities of the presidency, who can put into action the plans that make you life better.” Most political observers thought Clinton won this debate, came across as more presidential. (So did CNN viewers, as 62% though Clinton won.) Round one goes to Clinton.

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and retired Silicon Valley Executive. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net (www.bobburnett.net)

From The Progressive Populist, November 1, 2016


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