There it was the first presidential debate of this election season, from Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. You might be thinking, “What the hell was that?” I don’t think anyone has seen Hillary Clinton smile that much since Bill was acquitted after his impeachment. Even her election to the U.S. Senate didn’t elicit that much smiling. She didn’t even smile that much during the Democratic National Convention.
Of course there was a reason she was smiling: the other person on the stage was Donald Trump — the sniffling, snorting, gibberish-wielding Republican Party candidate for president. The most common question about Trump on social media? “How much blow did he do before the debate?”
At first though, despite the extremely audible sniffling, lefties all over America were worried. Trump was quite agreeable, measured and — dare I say it? — likable. Well, okay, that train left the station a while ago. Trump could never be likable. Even many of his supporters admit he isn’t likable — he just isn’t Hillary Clinton.
“Which of his policies do you agree with?”
“I don’t know.”
What about his view on taxes? Or immigration?”
Well, he’s kind of racist about immigrants.”
“Well, do you think he’s qualified to be Commander-in-Chief?”
“Then why are you voting for him?”
“He isn’t Hillary Clinton.”
That’s the reason why some formerly stalwart anti-Trump Republicans, like John Sununu and Ted Cruz, decided to endorse Trump.
If that’s your reason to vote for Donald Trump you deserve whatever miserable life you lead.
So, in the debate it didn’t take Trump long to go off the rails. In fact he was off the rails long before the debate. He has claimed the election is rigged and he claimed the debate was rigged, that Lester Holt is a Democrat in the tank for Hillary Clinton. The take away from that being Lester Holt, the anchor of the NBC Nightly News, is a registered Republican. C’mon Lester, really? You bass-playing madman! You have virtually nothing else in common with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee!
I liked Lester until that was widely reported.
So, according to Trump the debate was rigged. Lester didn’t ask Hillary about Benghazi, or her emails or the Clinton Foundation or any of the other useless topics that have been investigated so much — Benghazi at least eight times — there’s really nothing new left to say about them.
After the debate Trump said Holt “did a great job.”
Well, a lot of people are in agreement with Trump on that point. But then there is the right wing fringe that insists Holt was part of the Clinton campaign’s fight against The Donald. Like Todd Starnes of Fox News and some unknown radio network. He tweeted, “Lester Holt should’ve moderated — instead of auditioning to be Hillary’s press secretary.”
Uh yeah, like Lester Holt is going to leave his job as a very well paid news anchor to work for a political campaign he is philosophically opposed to as a registered Republican.
Reality and facts have lost their appeal to the right since the days of President George W. Bush and his brain Karl Rove. Several news organizations said they would be fact-checking the debate, some specifically checking Trump for any lies. Before the debate Trump’s campaign chair Kellyanne Conway actually said, “I really don’t appreciate campaigns thinking it is the job of the media to go and be these virtual fact-checkers and that these debate moderators should somehow do their bidding,”
Well, actually that’s what journalists do. And they fact checked Clinton as well.
There was a sort of funny news item posted on Facebook warning people not to play a drinking game based on the number of times Trump lies. Apparently it could lead to acute alcohol poisoning.
Not sure if that’s true or not, but it was funny … until I remembered playing the Bob Newhart drinking game back in the early 80’s …
“Bob?” Drink a shot. “Bob!” Drink a shot. “Bob” Drink a shot.
You get the picture. They could say Bob over 20 times in an episode. You see the problem. According to Politico Trump lied every three minutes and 15 seconds during a five-day period.
So, let’s say Trump got half the 90 minutes to speak. That’s like … (doing the math) … well, that’s only about 14 shots. That’s doable, not that I would, not today anyway. Back in the day I was a professional drinker … let’s not go down that road.
Some people think Hillary Clinton lied right from the start when she said, “Donald, it’s good to be with you.”
I don’t think that was a lie at all. She was debating a guy who refused to prepare for the debate. A guy who believes global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese — a guy who will say any stupid thing that comes into his head. Like when she mentioned he didn’t pay any taxes when he had to reveal some tax returns while applying to build a casino. Trump said, “That makes me smart.”
No, it means he was one of the wealthy elite who leaves the tax burden on the shoulders of the Middle Class. But, as usual, Trump was proud of the fact he weaseled his way out of paying taxes.
Then of course Trump bragged that he was out in all the different states meeting the voters, while Clinton had chosen to stay at home. The former secretary replied, “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate, and yes, I did. And you know what else I’ve prepared for? I prepared to be president.”
At one point she told Trump, “Join the debate by saying more crazy things.”
Clinton followed her debate prep strategy of getting under Trump’s skin because when he feels like he’s been attacked he flips off the rails — Which he did Monday night.
Clinton’s biggest smile came when Trump said, “I think my strongest asset by far is my temperament. I have a winning temperament.” D’oh!
Very few people believe he has the temperament to be president — although Trump will tell us otherwise.
He also insisted he has a good relationship with the African-American community, even though for five years he badgered the first Black president to show his papers. This is the United States. People don’t have to show their papers. We’re not in the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. For five years Trump perpetuated the racist argument that our nation’s first black president was not qualified to hold that office. That was the issue that propelled him into this presidential race, the reason why White supremacists support Trump.
Which brings up Trump’s ties to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Clinton criticized Trump for inviting the Russians to hack more U.S. servers. He claimed no one knew for sure it was the Russians, that it could be a 400-pound person sitting on a bed. Despite the fact that every intelligence agency in the West says it was the Russians, and Richard Engle, the NBC Foreign Correspondent said someone in the German intelligence showed him the evidence it was an attack from Russia.
Of course Clinton wanted the 80-100 million viewers to know just who Donald Trump is and where he came from. In just the first few minutes she told the audience. “You know, Donald was very fortunate in his life, and that’s all to his benefit. He started his business with $14 million, borrowed from his father, and he really believes that the more you help wealthy people, the better off we’ll be and that everything will work out from there.”
She was explaining why Trump’s fiscal policies were nothing more than “Trumped up, trickle down” economics.
Trump tried to fight back, going for a very good point against Clinton when he brought up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He brought up the “gold standard” of trade deals comment. And Clinton, who tried to explain why she was against it, finally said — and you know she was waiting for weeks to use this line — “Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts.” That was very poor grammar, Madame Secretary.
Donald wanted to take credit for changing Hillary’s position on TPP when the truth is, it was Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders who flipped Clinton in the primaries.
The economy was the big issue during the debate and clearly Hillary had the upper hand. She admonished him for hoping the housing market would crash so he could make money from it. Trump said profiting from the misfortunes of those who lost everything in the recession was good business. People who did lose as a result of that financial disaster heard that as well as his pride in not paying taxes.
Clinton pounded Trump on not releasing his tax returns, to which he responded with his standard excuse that he’s being audited. Clinton clicked off possible reasons why Trump is hiding them: not paying his taxes, not as rich or charitable as he claims — his obligations to Wall Street and foreign investors —punctuating her attack on Trump’s one claim to fame as a presidential candidate: he’s a successful businessman who knows how to get things done.
“If your main claim to be president of the United States is your business, then I think we should talk about that. You know, your campaign manager said that you built a lot of businesses on the backs of little guys. And, indeed, I have met a lot of the people who were stiffed by you and your businesses, Donald.
“I’ve met dishwashers, painters, architects, glass installers, marble installers, drapery installers, like my dad was, who you refused to pay when they finished the work that you asked them to do. We have an architect in the audience who designed one of your clubhouses at one of your golf courses. It’s a beautiful facility. It immediately was put to use. And you wouldn’t pay what the man needed to be paid, what he was charging you to do …”
Trump interrupted her and shot back, “Maybe he didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work …”
Or maybe Trump is a thief who steals labor from the people that do business with him.
Then there was Trump’s denunciation of the African-American community as being so horrible, just so he could promote “stop and frisk” on a national level. That controversial policing tactic was ruled unconstitutional and New York City stopped using it because it targeted primarily people of color. It is another vestige of a police state, in which, for no reason, police officers can stop and search people, without warrants, without probably cause.
The fact that he tied “stop and frisk” to the Black community says a lot about his racial temperament. Would he consider instituting stop and frisk in an all-white community?
One of the funnier moments was when Trump accused Clinton of fighting ISIS all her adult life. ISIS has only been around since 2004. And once again someone — Hillary Clinton — who had to explain we pulled our troops out of Iraq in 2011 because President George Bush signed an agreement that we would leave at that time.
Trump wanted the media to call Sean Hannity of Fox News and ask him about Trump’s stance on the Iraq War, which he was for before he was against it. There’s no recorded evidence of any discussions between Trump and Hannity, just take the talk show host’s word that Trump was against the war.
Trump walked right into the criticism about his attitudes towards women. Lester Holt asked him what h meant by his comment that Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a “presidential look.”
“I just don’t think she has the presidential look,” Trump replied.
As in she’s a woman and therefore not fit to be president. And then Trump went on to claim she didn’t have the stamina to be president, running off a list of things he thought could prove his point.
Clinton’s reply: “Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”
And then Clinton brought up his treatment of a Miss Universe. It went like this:
CLINTON: You know he tried to switch from looks to stamina. But this is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs, and someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers, who has said…
TRUMP: I never said that.
CLINTON: … women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men.
TRUMP: I didn’t say that.
CLINTON: And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman “Miss Piggy.” Then he called her “Miss Housekeeping,” because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.
TRUMP: Where did you find this? Where did you find this?
CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.
TRUMP: Where did you find this?
CLINTON: And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet …
TRUMP: Oh, really?
CLINTON: … she’s going to vote this November.
TRUMP: OK, good. Let me just tell you…
HOLT: Mr. Trump, could we just take 10 seconds and then we ask the final question…
TRUMP: You know Hillary is hitting me with tremendous commercials. Some of it’s said in entertainment. Some of it’s said — somebody who’s been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell, I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her. But you want to know the truth? I was going to say something …
HOLT: Please very quickly.
TRUMP: … extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, “I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate. It’s not nice.” But she spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me, many of which are absolutely untrue. They’re untrue. And they’re misrepresentations.
And I will tell you this, Lester: It’s not nice. And I don’t deserve that. But it’s certainly not a nice thing that she’s done. It’s hundreds of millions of ads. And the only gratifying thing is, I saw the polls come in today, and with all of that money …”
With all that money she’s ahead in the national polls. Trailing in Ohio, but in the national polls Hillary Clinton is about five points ahead of Donald Trump. But there it was, presented on that stage: Trump is easily rattled when confronted by an opponent who is much better prepared, far more skillful with the English language and displays such sense of self control she kept herself from laughing at the absurdity the Republican party put up as their nominee for president.
We can say this for The Donald: he won the interruption game, stepping on Hillary’s comments 29 times. She only stepped on Trump’s comments 19 times.
There are two more presidential debates and one vice presidential debate left. It was obvious Hillary prepared for the night and Trump just tried to be Trump — and it failed — or succeeded, depending on your POV. Many of his supporters believe Trump won — we all believed the Easter Bunny was real at one time — but all polls taken after the debate indicate Clinton won by a large, double digit margin.
As David Gergen said, Hillary crushed Trump in the debate — and she did it with a smile. Even Trump’s own campaign said, “it wasn’t that bad.” That’s why Hillary Clinton was smiling so much Monday Night.
There are still 41 days until the election and a lot can happen, but at this point the election is Hillary Clinton’s to lose.
Maybe Trump should have found a way to snort more blow during the debate …
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality.