A Bizarre, No Good, Second Debate

Trump was alternately somnambulant, petulant, stalking, incoherent, and dangerous.

trump-clinton-debate-townhall

Defying calls from dozens of top-level members of his own party to drop out of the race, Donald Trump went to the second presidential debate a wounded, desperate animal. He preceded it with a press conference in which four women—Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton—who had accused his opponent’s husband of sex crimes endorsed him. He then proceded to give the most bizarre performance I’ve ever seen in general election debate: alternately somnambulant, petulant, stalking, incoherent, and dangerous.

The forum didn’t help his cause. Moderator Martha Raddatz, who frequently interjected herself into one of the Romney-Obama debates as a participant, followed suit here. Anderson Cooper was better but constantly failed at keeping either debator to the time limit. The town hall format, as always, produced poor questions. This one, all the more so because of the artifice that the questioners were “undecided voters.” All of the audience questions save the last two were clearly aimed at Trump’s foibles.

I live tweeted the debate on my phone. I’ll paste in some of those tweets below and amplify here.

The after-debate coverage focused on the fact that the candidates didn’t shake hands, which I didn’t notice. What I did notice was that Clinton took the stage smiling and confident and Trump looked like a man walking to his execution.

That was the first “undecided voter” question. It came after the moderators had already asked Clinton about the Trump tapes and allowed Trump to respond. To her credit, Clinton used the opportunity to talk about her own long history of public service and not to go after Trump.

It was remarkable how drained and unenthusiastic Trump was, especially in the early going.

Not my first typo of the evening but it comes with the territory when typing quickly on one’s phone. Regardless, Trump’s answer to the question was, in what would become a theme, a rambling mess of incoherently linked talking points.

He followed that up by saying that, as regrettable as his “locker room talk” with Billy Bush was, we should instead be talking about ISIS because it’s a more serious problem. That . . . does not compute. The character of the person who will be commander-in-chief is rather important in judging how they might handle the role.

He then went on to just throw in random comments about random things to run out—and past—his two minutes. Again, that would become a theme. (In fairness, Clinton almost always ran past the time limit, too. But she was getting in coherent, mostly-policy-oriented, talking points, not blathering incoherently.)

In addition to being “low energy,” he just wasn’t having fun or effectively connecting attacks on his opponent in the early going. The latter would change as the night went on; the former would not.

I’m sympathetic to the “Bill Clinton’s abuses of women are worse than mine” argument. Given that Hillary, not Bill, is running, it’s only tangentially helpful—she stood by him and attacked his accusers—but it adds useful context. But Trump’s delivery of the attack had a certain hostage tape quality. (Others have noted that Trump poo-pooed the charges at the time. But his explanation during the primary debates, that he was of course courting favor with the powerful Clintons in his role as businessman, strikes me as consistent with his character.)

Clinton’s counter was a recounting of Trump’s Greatest Hits—insulting Muslims, insulting women, insulting Gold Star families, etc.  It was well done. But, knowing the “Bill” line of attack was coming, she should have parried it directly. Including by throwing Trump’s 1998 comments back at him.

Trump’s response to Clinton bringing up Trump’s horrible response to the Kahn family in and after the previous debate was to claim that CPT Kahn would still be alive had he been president. He seemed to think Clinton was Secretary of State at the time, but he was killed very early in the war.

In what was clearly the low point of the night, Trump announced that he would do what Putin would do: jail his opponent. Just . . . wow.

Trump landed a couple of good blows on the email server issue, which he ruined with the special prosecutor overreach. Clinton’s response to those charges and follow-up from the moderators wasn’t very convincing. Then again, I think that story is sufficiently baked in at this stage of the race that few are going to change their minds on it.

While not as outrageous as the “special prosecutor” gambit, Trump’s most bizarre moment was attacking the moderators for not asking about the email scandal after a very long back-and-forth on the email scandal. While he brought it up, one of the moderators (I believe Raddatz) had followed up with a direct question on it to Clinton.

It became almost comical. All of the questions were clearly responses to various Trump controversies. My favorite was the chubby Muslim woman; it was laughable that she was on the fence about the candidate who had regularly insulted Muslims, women, and the obese.

It’s a fact of life at this stage but I deplore the normalization of criminal activity in our politics. Whether it’s hackers of the Democratic National Committee, stolen tax returns, or Clinton’s private speech transcripts, it’s a shame that the mainstream media treats them as legitimate sources.

I don’t recall the question but it had nothing to do with post offices or balance sheets.

On a tax reform question, Trump made some salient points about the carried interest rule that came to wonkish attention last cycle with “the Buffett Rule” and Mitt Romney’s tax situation. But I’d wager that few undecided voters, indeed, have any idea what the rule is.

How we got onto the issue to begin with, I’m not sure. But it was clear Trump had no idea what he was talking about. As Steven Taylor responded to me at one point, he referred to Russia as a “young” nuclear power.

At one point, she offered a counterargument about a point Trump was making. It wasn’t even a fact check or correction–just an explanation for why a choice might have been made. That’s the job of opponents in a debate, not the moderators.

In response to a question about ISIS, Clinton boldly asserted that she would go after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi directly. Given how many high value targets we’ve already taken out, I’m pretty sure Obama has thought of that one and will do so if given actionable intelligence.

After yet another ‘undecided voter’ asked a question clearly aimed at Trump’s insults of minority groups, Anderson Cooper gamely turned the question on Clinton about her calling Trump supporters “deplorables.” That’s actually good moderation but struck me as amusing.

In response to the first audience question that was plausibly from someone who hadn’t already made up their mind, Trump issued a rambling answer about energy policy in which he repeatedly asserted that our energy companies are going out of business because of various government policies. Given how profitable most are, that made little sense.

The next and final question was from a guy who wanted the two candidates to say something nice about one another.

Trump spent most of his time on that question expounding on Clinton’s answer—that his kids are great–but finally allowed that she’s a real fighter, even if she fights for bad causes.

My immediate post-debate response:

I watched a few minutes of the CNN post-debate commentary and was somewhat perplexed.

 

Trump was simply awful last night. Clinton wasn’t overly charming—which is seldom her strong suit—but she was calm, prepared, and coherent. The only overnight poll I’ve seen thus far has her winning a rather narrow victory. But I can’t imagine how anyone but the most die-hard Trump supporter could have come away last night thinking he stopped the bleeding, much less made a case that he should be in charge of the nuclear codes.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    Trump just tried to gaslight the entire American populace. Let’s see if he gets away with it.

    I doubt his stalkerish behavior on the platform helped his position with any woman who watched the debate.




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  2. Tony W says:

    Trump is about to endure a very painful 72 hours of reactive tweeting, and denial that he said the things he said.

    I’d love to see the “boxes of e-mail” by the way, too bad they were “acid washed”.




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  3. Mikey says:

    In what was clearly the low point of the night, Trump announced that he would do what Putin would do: jail his opponent.

    And his supporters cheered at him calling for one of the hallmarks of dictatorship.

    Just more evidence in support of an assertion I made months ago: Trump’s supporters do not want a President of a republic. They want an emperor, with the assumption his dictatorial powers would be used to their benefit and to the detriment of the people they hate.




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  4. Lit3Bolt says:

    Clinton ignored Trump because she’s a boxer and he’s a puncher. He kept trying to come up with great one liners instead of having actual policy positions, and his monolithic ignorance remains unshaken. He also apparently has no idea how he looks on TV; a melted mango candle in a suit that glared and glowered while Clinton attempted (not 100% successfully) to engage with the audience.

    By threatening to jail his political opponents despite whatever the director of the FBI thinks, by praising Assad and Russia for fighting ISIS, by writing off Aleppo and the humanitarian crisis there, by insisting that paying no taxes makes him a brilliant businessman, and by publicly shaming Mike Pence after Pence went to bat for Trump, Trump proved…yet again…that he is unfit for office and a terrible general election politician.

    If Trump did score points against Clinton, they were immediately lost by going off into the Breitbart weeds. 99.999% of the electorate don’t know who or what DT is talking about when he tried to make his talking points.




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  5. Mikey says:

    @Tony W: He’s trying to refer to the BleachBit software that was used to wipe hard drives. He calls it “a very expensive process,” which, like 99.999% of what comes out of his festering gob, is complete bullshit. BleachBit is free, open-source software.




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  6. C. Clavin says:

    Even forgetting the terrible optics…He was just dead wrong about everything.
    His position on Syria is 180 degrees from what is actually going on.
    Obamacare is not perfect…but it’s working. He has no serious alternative.
    Oil companies going out of business? Someone tell Exxon/Mobil, the second most profitable company in the Fortune 500.
    All minorities do not live in the “inner cities”.
    There were no sightings of bombs in San Bernadino and Muslims reporting Muslims is not a solution to Islamaphobia…something he has done a great deal to increase over the last year.
    Anyone who thinks the man on TV last night should be the President of these United States has serious mental health issues.
    I’m anxious to see if serious Republicans think he helped himself last night, or dug in deeper.




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  7. MarkedMan says:

    There were a number of things to focus on. For me, the two big takeaways:

    Clinton obviously understands at a very deep level what is going on in Syria and the surrounding region and is not afraid to be conclusive (“No ground troops”) or to take a stand on a ‘d*mned if you do, d*mned if you don’t’ issue (“Arm the Kurds”). That is reassuring in a president.

    Trump appeared to be trying to intimidate her, or something, with his walking up behind her when she was answering an audience question. A couple of times when he was berating her face to face he took a few steps towards her in what seemed to me an effort to show who was boss. I guess it appealed to his base, but to me he just came across as the creep at a party that within 15 minutes everyone is trying to avoid. He ‘promoted the stereotype’ of the tea partier who doesn’t understand anything and has no solutions but wants to get in your face and loudly explain that everything sucks and only he and his friends have the answers because everyone else are stupid losers.




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  8. Argon says:

    I don’t believe any of these questioners are undecided voters.

    I doubt there’s anyone not in a vegetative coma that remains undecided at this point.

    The one case I can see for being undecided is whether to vote at all. That’s not me but I can see why others might consider that option.




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  9. Andrew says:

    Extreme Vetting?

    That may have been the most thought out response Trump gave all night. Everything else was buck shot sprayed in every direction except towards the target.

    The target being anything resembling coherent.




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  10. cian says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Spot on. And Clinton’s people need to hammer this home at every opportunity over the remaining days of the campaign. Enough with his temperament and unsuitability (we get it). ‘It’s the incompetence, stupid’.




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  11. Franklin says:

    So for me, the only thing that Trump suggested that I wanted to look up was his big health care plan … which is basically to allow buying it over state lines. But according to this article, it would have almost zero impact. This is because the barriers are more financial and setting up the network than regulatory. And one could claim even a negative impact of the change, as the insurers would set up shop in the state with the least regulations.

    Anyway, his behavior was even more bizarre than usual. Completely unfit for any job requiring an adult.




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  12. Scott says:

    What I don’t think goes over is the repeated claim that he was just using locker room talk. Sorry, I’ve been in a lock of locker rooms and this is not the kind of talk that goes on there. However, I can’t speak to the locker rooms of the rich and famous.




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  13. Scott says:

    @Franklin: You’re right about this. It is just a slogan that sounds good but is just dumb. Couple of points: I don’t think Texans want their healthcare regulated by Mississippi. Second: This will inevitably lead to national regulations. This is what conservatives don’t like about the ACA.




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  14. MarkedMan says:

    @Franklin:

    which is basically to allow buying it over state lines

    As in most law, the devil is in the details. Allowing companies to sell across state lines sounds obvious. But – having moved often, I can tell you that the big companies already have policies in all the states I’ve lived in, so what is this about?

    It turns out that different states have different regulations about what must be covered. What the insurance companies want is to set up shop in the least restrictive state, the one that lets them exclude the most from basic coverage, cover the least amount of drugs or push sick people out of their plans with the least push back. Then they can sell that plan into a state that has tighter regulations. So basically, the reason the insurance companies are lobbying so hard for this is that effectively repeals all state regulations in one go.




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  15. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    Absolutely. The Trumpkins want to punish everyone who opposes them. Not just punish, destroy. The hatred is ravenous.

    As for Trump himself, Putin is obviously his role model.




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  16. Andrew says:

    Yes, things are horrible Mr. Trump.

    No one respects you.
    No one takes you seriously.
    You are not what you say you are, and everyone knows it.
    You are not as rich as you say you are, and everyone knows it.
    You look like a science experiment went wrong, and you know it.
    You have zero people who want to be around you, unless you cut them a check or if they already rely on your money.

    It’s not wonder you have the world view you do. You are a fake, a fraud, and everything wrong with humanity. You are a bully. A rapist, and a serial adulterer.
    You are a radical asshole. And I have called you by the right name, therefore I know how to solve the problem.




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  17. al-Alameda says:

    Trump was a sneering, whining, rude mess – as expected.
    Clinton was kind of clunky yet kept her cool – as expected.

    Once again this debate showed that the Town Hall Format needs to be scrapped, some of the questions were as embarrassing as Trump. Also, the idea that there are “independents” out there who need to be specifically recognized in a Town Hall Format is a delusion.




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  18. Boyd says:

    I didn’t watch the debate myself, so I have no win-loss opinion. I will say, though, that all of the post-debate commentary I’ve seen reads like confirmation bias, on both sides.

    And the tough thing about confirmation bias is that when it’s yours, it’s invisible to you.




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  19. Mikey says:

    @Boyd: You should watch the debate, then–I’m sure it’s available in recorded form somewhere on the ‘net.

    I’m a Clinton supporter so consider that when you read my opinion, in my view she was a great deal more coherent in her answers than Trump. She would begin a response and remain on topic for its entirety, while Trump often meandered from one subject to another during the course of his answers.

    She displayed a much greater grasp of the actual details of the issues where Trump often did not.

    He flat-out lied a few times, again denying he said something it is very easy to verify he actually said.

    As far as tone and body language, those are hard to relate in a written comment so you’d be better off watching yourself and forming your own judgment.




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  20. barbintheboonies says:

    I could only watch about 10 minutes of this debate. I realized I do not want either of them. We either have a scumbag,crazy, pig. or more of the same old CRAP. Yes Clinton is a better person, but how does she expect to get anything done with our crazy congress. Something tells me that`s just what our government wants. Let the people think they are getting someone who cares, but still cater to the 1% who could careless about anything but the almighty buck. I will not vote for either one of them.




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  21. Kylopod says:

    @Argon:

    I doubt there’s anyone not in a vegetative coma that remains undecided at this point.

    In fact there’s an unusually high level of undecideds this year compared with other recent presidential elections. It’s narrowing, but it’s still larger than at comparable points in 2012 and 2008.

    My guess is that most of the undecideds fall into one of the following two categories:

    (1) Republican-leaning voters who realize Trump is a barking madman but are torn over party loyalty.

    (2) Democrat-leaning voters who dislike Hillary but are torn over party loyalty (and a desire to keep a barking madman out of the White House).

    I suspect, further, that most of these folks aren’t likely to vote for the other major party (that is, the Democrat-leaners aren’t likely to vote for Trump, and the GOP-leaners aren’t likely to vote for Hillary), but there’s a real chance they might either support a third party or stay home.




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  22. JKB says:

    This debate was the second wind trope in our story. Trump was down, by all expectations he had wounds that would kill him. But last night, he grabbed the killing blow and struggled to his feet. There is more fighting. The DemProgs and the MSM (but I repeat myself) will try to punch him in his wounds for maximum effect. But those blows will only produce Hollywood healing (trope). If you see Trump go into the crane stance, be afraid, very afraid.




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  23. CSK says:

    @JKB:

    It might be wise to avoid the word “grabbed” when speaking approvingly of Trump. It has unattractive connotations.




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  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    @JKB:

    Are you still drunk from last night?




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  25. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    I’m sympathetic to the “Bill Clinton’s abuses of women are worse than mine” argument.

    I’m not; they’re both useless horndogs of equal stature. Yet, each of them appear to be at the very least adequately qualified for their respective primary careers. The Clinton Presidency was easily as effective as the one preceding it and accomplished some singularly beneficial things for the country (full disclosure–I didn’t vote for Clinton either election and have as much derangement syndrome about him as Doug and James put together; I have simply let go of the issue), and Trump Enterprises is good at construction of buildings–but not at paying contractors or any other enterprise. There’s a message in there somewhere about looking at things that are relevant to the question at hand, but I assume that message is probably lost on most of present day society.

    James, the fact that you can hold “sympathy” for Trump’s astonishingly 2nd grader argument about Clinton gives cover to the people who comment here that you are “in the bag” for Trump and just don’t want to admit it. You really need to abandon your CDS; it detracts from your credibility.

    You don’t have to vote for Hillary if you don’t want to, no one really cares (well, maybe only I don’t), and you don’t have to admire or respect the Clintons, just stop harping on the fact that you don’t. It’ll help.




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  26. Mr. Bluster says:

    @Boyd:..I didn’t watch the debate myself, so I have no win-loss opinion.

    This link from the LA Times seems to work well.

    http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/trailguide/la-na-second-presidential-debate-live-watch-live-donald-trump-and-hillary-1476051555-htmlstory.html




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  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    Trump Enterprises is good at construction of buildings

    It’s amazing to me that people still believe this about Trump’s business. For well over a decade Trump Enterprises has not been building anything. Rather, they manage their existing properties and license Trump’s name to other builders. As an example, there was a lawsuit against Donald Trump for some fancy Trump condominium development that took a lot of peoples money and then went bankrupt. Trump had recorded videos extolling the property and was present in a lot of the literature, all mentions implying it was his development. When the poor schmucks, many of them retirees, had lost their savings they tried to sue Trump Enterprises but they lost because it turns out, as Trump himself testified, his company had nothing to do with it beyond licensing his name. I believe it was in that case (but may be wrong and I can’t find the cite) that he said everything he said about owning it and running it was just puffery, a legal term for untrue things you can say in advertising (“Best dishwasing liquid ever!”, “From an ancient recipe!”, etc)




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  28. JohnMcC says:

    @barbintheboonies: “…(H)ow does she expect to get anything done with our crazy congress?” By pushing the ‘negatives’ of the R-party so far down that she ends up with a Democratic House and Senate. Therefore you should absolutely vote the straight D ticket and urge your family members and friends to do the same.




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  29. Jen says:

    RNC has scheduled a 30 minute call with committee members at 5 p.m. this evening. A call that short is an announcement, not a discussion.

    Pulling resources?




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  30. JR says:

    Last night’s debate was pretty much a culmination of 20-30 years of conservative talk media bubble. Everything Trump said last night played well with the morons that is the conservative base, but it did nothing to change the minds of undecided voters and suburban white women, two groups that he needs desperately.

    If it wasn’t so embarrassing for the country, I would laugh.




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  31. george says:

    @Argon:

    I doubt there’s anyone not in a vegetative coma that remains undecided at this point.

    Actually I know a lot of people, mainly overworked professionals with young kids (engineering and accounting for the most part), who say they haven’t followed the election at all (some barely know who the candidates are), and won’t look at it until the last week. I’d guess most of them will end up voting for Clinton (they’re well educated and sane), but at this point if you bring up the election they just shrug, say the campaign is way too long, and move on to other more interesting topics.

    Not everyone follows politics, and if you don’t watch TV and read newspapers (and a lot of professionals know don’t, the Internet has taken its place) its very easy not to hear anything about the candidates or the election. We’re always surprised when people don’t know about what interests us, but its actually to be expected. I’ve long since learned not to expect people to follow science (though I’d argue science affects us more than politics, both because we’re physical beings and because of the technology that comes with it); likewise I no longer expect people to follow politics.

    In fact, I’d say the extremely long unofficial campaigns (starting with the primaries) probably drives a lot of people to shutting it out until the election is very close. Sometimes I think that’s the most rational approach – you have the most information at its end.




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  32. C. Clavin says:

    @MarkedMan:

    What the insurance companies want is to set up shop in the least restrictive state

    Exactly…which is why all the credit card companies are in Delaware.




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  33. R.Dave says:

    Trump’s threat to appoint a special prosecutor was clearly that – a threat of political retribution against an opponent. However, I think the general concept of prosecuting crimes by a prior administration or an official of a prior administration is valid. Losing an election can’t serve as an automatic pardon for crimes committed in office.




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  34. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I’m anxious to see if serious Republicans think he helped himself last night, or dug in deeper.

    I see a chyron that Ryan has told the House it’s every man for himself.




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  35. grumpy realist says:

    @R.Dave: Considering when Hillary is supposed to have “committed” these so-called crimes, I think a little doctrine called “laches” might come into play….




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  36. Mr. Bluster says:

    He then preceded to give the most bizarre performance I’ve ever seen in general election debate: alternately somnambulant, petulant, stalking, incoherent, and dangerous.

    I cannot help myself. This image is stuck in my mind after watching Trump last night.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUhKMqxgFbE




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  37. grumpy realist says:

    Anyone who thinks that what Trump was talking about was just “locker room boasting” should take a hike over to the #notokay Twitter feed to see how often women (and men) have been assaulted.

    For the men on here who think Trump’s words are just “bragging”–ask the women in your life. I think you’ll be very unpleasantly surprised.

    Unless you think this is “normal” “acceptable” behavior for men?




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  38. Tony W says:

    @R.Dave:

    Losing an election can’t serve as an automatic pardon for crimes committed in office.

    Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney disagree




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  39. Nikki says:

    @R.Dave:

    Losing an election can’t serve as an automatic pardon for crimes committed in office.

    Just as trying to win an election shouldn’t serve as a launching pad for baseless accusations of criminal conduct..




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  40. Tillman says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Clinton obviously understands at a very deep level what is going on in Syria and the surrounding region and is not afraid to be conclusive (“No ground troops”) or to take a stand on a ‘d*mned if you do, d*mned if you don’t’ issue (“Arm the Kurds”). That is reassuring in a president.

    Her answer on Syria was the second most depressing answer of the night. Pushing a no-fly zone is almost as bad as agitating for war with Russia. They’re uniquely susceptible to mission creep. Also, no “boots on the ground” but specialists and trainers? I guess they won’t be wearing boots? As Spencer Ackerman tweeted, “You can’t do a no-fly zone unless you are prepared to fight the Russians in the air.”

    She’s being conclusive the same way Bush stayed the course in Iraq. This kind of decisiveness is one of the main reasons I didn’t support her in the primary. But I guess Trump is a perpetual motion machine of shit, so there’s no real pushback on any of this.

    Remember climate change? Most depressing answer of the night. “Climate change is a serious problem” followed by some platitudes about securing a green energy future. In twenty years, the platitudes will be over the need to divert the ocean from seaside cities.

    Lest I’m misunderstood, Trump’s answers weren’t depressing because most of the time you couldn’t make out what he was saying. He did let slip his inner Stalinist with the whole “you’d be in jail” nonsense. That was fun. A bunch of people are going to vote for him!




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  41. Mr. Bluster says:

    This appears to be a word for word written transcript of last nights candidate question and answer session.

    http://www.npr.org/2016/10/09/497056227/fact-check-clinton-and-trump-debate-for-the-second-time




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  42. george says:

    @grumpy realist:

    One thing that’s struck me, having spent a lot of time in locker rooms (I was a jock, and still like to play sports) – a guy who bragged about groping women would be laughed out of the room. Locker room bragging is about women throwing themselves at you (no one believes any of it for obvious reasons – sadly very few of us are Brad Pitt). Someone who boasts about groping would get comments like “Yeah, because that’s the only way you’ll ever get to touch anything”, and would become the butt of a lot of jokes.

    Guys who grope don’t brag about it to other guys, even if those other guys are sexist, because it makes you sound like a loser.




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  43. Franklin says:

    @Boyd: My impression was similar to James’ and Nate Silver’s, for whatever that’s worth. Trump was off the rails in the first 20-30 minutes, obviously weary and irritated. I don’t think anybody could follow what the hell he was talking about which changed from sentence to sentence. He really seemed totally unfit (more than usual).

    After that, it was somewhat even, if you ignore facts and political biases.




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  44. dxq says:

    If Trump did score points against Clinton, they were immediately lost by going off into the Breitbart weeds. 99.999% of the electorate don’t know who or what DT is talking about when he tried to make his talking points.

    something i’ve noticed lately with RWNJs is their arguments are now so removed from shared reality that when they argue or defend something, it only makes sense in their little world.




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  45. R. Dave says:

    @grumpy realist: Considering when Hillary is supposed to have “committed” these so-called crimes, I think a little doctrine called “laches” might come into play.

    Laches? We don’t need no stinking laches!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. In any event, the doctrine of laches doesn’t apply in criminal cases. In the criminal context, you have the statute of limitations and the concept of unreasonable pre-indictment delay in violation of the 5th amendment right to a speedy trial. It’s a pretty high burden for a defendant to win on the latter, though, as they have to show material prejudice to their ability to mount a defense and an unreasonable/unjustified delay in bringing the indictment. Not sure Clinton could clear that bar on something the email issue. Not that I’m saying she should be prosecuted by the next administration; just that I don’t think such a prosecution would be barred on the basis of unreasonable delay.




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  46. R. Dave says:

    @Tillman: Her answer on Syria was the second most depressing answer of the night. Pushing a no-fly zone is almost as bad as agitating for war with Russia. They’re uniquely susceptible to mission creep. Also, no “boots on the ground” but specialists and trainers? I guess they won’t be wearing boots? As Spencer Ackerman tweeted, “You can’t do a no-fly zone unless you are prepared to fight the Russians in the air.”

    Right? I was shocked the moderators didn’t follow up with a question about whether that means she’d order US forces to fire on Russian planes if Russia refused to honor the no-fly zone.




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  47. Mr. Bluster says:

    …but whether we like it or not there is a problem and we have to be sure that Muslims come in and report when they see something going on when they see hatred going on they have report it. Donald Trump

    #muslims report stuff
    “Falafel” actually means “kill all the infidels”. We’ve kept that a secret all this time.
    “Hello, I’d like to report a dangerous racist misogynist demagogue on my TV… yes, I’ll hold,”
    “My dad is taking a nap, I’ll keep on watching him as Trump ordered,”




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  48. Scott says:

    @george: It gets back to the discussion of Trump’s psychological profile: There is just something wrong with the guy. Desperate for love and attention, developmentally immature, etc. And right now the country is taking the brunt of his disturbed psyche.




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  49. dxq says:

    I love how the GOP candidate for president announces he’s going to jail his opponent. Remind me again how he’s our fault because we’ve been too mean to conservatives?

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    Does an irrelevant protest vote count as doing nothing?




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  50. barbintheboonies says:

    @JohnMcC: It did not happen for Obama




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  51. nick says:

    James, do you think everyone accused of sexual assault should be presumed guilty? My guess is no. If not, then please explain why you’ve come to this conclusion in BJC’s case. Have you studied the evidence, forensic or otherwise, that leads you to this conclusion?




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  52. Moosebreath says:

    “He preceded it with a press conference in which four women—Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton—who had accused his opponent’s husband of sex crimes endorsed him.”

    And Trump’s plan was to have them sit in the box with his family to create a confrontation between them and Hillary.




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  53. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    how does she expect to get anything done with our crazy congress.

    Clinton and Trump agree on one thing….. she is not a quitter.

    I will not vote for either one of them.

    You appear to be satisfied with quitting.




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  54. DK says:

    Trump was way too extra in this debate: stalking, creeping, pacing, rocking back and forth, rambling, coke sniffling, making threats, lurking. Predator much? I was scared for Hillary, but she is a class act – she is tough, intelligent, and she wasn’t rattled or intimidated at all. Meanwhile Cokehead Trump acted like a serial killer or drug addict. He is a total weirdo and lunatic, no wonder he’s an admitted groper/sexual predator who’s been accused of sexual assault and rape multiple times (see Jill Harth and Katie Johnson). Only Trumpanzees and insecure losers still support this abusive, creepy, Putin-whispering tax cheat and job outsourcing lunatic Trump.




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  55. James Joyner says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: My point there is a rather narrow one: The things I thought disqualify Trump for office also disqualified Bill Clinton. They don’t disqualify Hillary Clinton but her response to Bill’s accusers does diminish her credibility at being outraged by Trump. It shouldn’t diminish ours.

    @nick: I haven’t conducted forensic inquiries into Bill Cosby, either, nor am I qualified to do so. But when that many women come out of the woodwork claiming you sexually abused them, it seems more likely than not that you sexually abused at least some of them. The state has a reasonable doubt burden to take away a citizen’s liberty; society doesn’t have that burden in forming opinions.




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  56. Eric Florack says:

    As to last night’s little dog and pony show, it must be said that Donald Trump’s performance was disappointing. His understanding of Economics, specifically these of these a trade deficit is nothing short of abysmal. Is lack of response over the destruction of the United States coal industry was another ball he dropped. Perhaps the biggest problem I had with him last night was his complete refusal to address the knee-jerk phrase that liberals constantly use and Hillary used it last night, “fair share.” He had a tremendous chance to kill off that weed at the root, and declined to do anything about it at all. Possibly Because he believes in that nonsense himself.

    The aftermath of last night is this. Nobody’s minds got changed.

    Perhaps the best comment on this whole charade enstrom Jeff Jacoby who suggested earlier this morning…

    It is pointless to ask who won last night’s so-called “debate.” Trump’s supporters were not won over by Clinton, and her supporters didn’t cross over to him. The clear loser, on the other hand, was the American electorate. What an embarrassment.




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  57. Tim says:

    I don’t believe any of these questioners are undecided voters.

    Oh, I believe there are lots of undecided voters. They aren’t undecided about the candidates… they think both of them suck! They are just undecided about whether they should bother pulling a lever for either of them or just not bother because voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil.

    I can sympathize and I plan to vote for another alternative who isn’t one of those two idiots.




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  58. george says:

    @Scott:

    I agree, there’s something really wrong inside him. Even what he thinks is normal “locker room” banter is twisted beyond recognition.




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  59. george says:

    @Tony W:

    Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney disagree

    Exactly. And its what Obama is counting on regarding his drone killings. And what most American Presidents have counted on since at least WW2. American Presidents have a long history of bloody actions that would be war crimes if not committed by a super power.

    They don’t prosecute their predecessors because they’re quite aware that they’ll have committed their own crimes by the time they leave office.




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  60. Mikey says:

    @george: I have what I call my Rule of Presidential Power:

    No President will ever take an action that would diminish the power and authority of the office of the Presidency, nor will he/she take an action that would potentially close off a future course of action he/she may deem necessary.

    Presidents do not prosecute their predecessors because doing so would remove a potential course of action, and no President will do that, especially in areas where there is great unpredictability.




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  61. Mikey says:

    @george: Being a military veteran, I hear some of my fellow vets basically saying “meh, we said worse to each other when we were in.”

    No, we didn’t. We certainly got lewd and crude, especially in a career field like the one I was in for my first 13 years, which did not permit women. Pretty much nothing was off the table and some of what we said would have made Andrew Dice Clay blush.

    But bragging about forcing ourselves on women? No. That was a line we never crossed.




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  62. Mikey says:

    It actually pisses me off that Trump is trying to brush this off as “locker-room talk.” Like “us guys always brag about grabbing pussy when it’s just us.”

    Fvck you, Trump. Don’t include me in your scummy misogynistic boasting-about-rape fest.




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  63. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: There’s more than one case of that type available to cite, so allow me to revise my previous statement to meet your objection:

    Trump Enterprises Construction is was good at the construction of buildings, *and Trump Enterprises is good at fleecing rubes and subcontractors* but not at paying contractors or any other enterprises.

    My bad, I haven’t actually paid enough attention to Trump over the past 10 years to follow what he was doing at all, so I was basing my statement on my past familiarity that he had been decent at construction. In Korea, no one (even among my adult students) had ever even heard of Donald Trump–even though there is a large Trump housing development in Seoul.




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  64. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tillman: Didn’t Vietnam start with “only sending military advisors?” I was in middle school in those days, so my memory might be fuzzy…




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  65. Barry says:

    James: “It’s a fact of life at this stage but I deplore the normalization of criminal activity in our politics. Whether it’s hackers of the Democratic National Committee, stolen tax returns, or Clinton’s private speech transcripts, it’s a shame that the mainstream media treats them as legitimate sources.”

    That ship sailed when Rove fired government lawyers for refusing to engage in criminally, politically-motivate prosecutions to aid in voter suppression, and then wiped millions of e-mails from the RNC servers (which he criminally used).

    Also, it’s quite likely that the *state* tax return information was provided by somebody who signed the joint return. Not illegal.




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  66. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @george: American Presidents Leaders of nations have a long history of bloody actions that would be war crimes if not committed by a super power the winner of the conflict in question.

    FTFY–no charge




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  67. Hal_10000 says:

    On a more positive note … well, on any positive note … the memification of Ken Bone has to be the best political news of the last few days.




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  68. Mister Bluster says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:..Didn’t Vietnam start with “only sending military advisors?”

    We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.
–Lyndon Johnson, Oct. 1964

    Lyndon Johnson assumed the United States Presidency on Nov. 22, 1963 the day President John Kennedy was assassinated.
That same year 122 American Soldiers were killed in the Vietnam War.
    
In 1964, 216 American Soldiers were killed.
    
In 1965, 1928 American Soldiers were killed.
    
In 1966, 6350 American Solders were killed.
    
In 1967, 11,363 American Solders were killed.
    
In 1968, the last full year of Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency,
16,899 American Soldiers were killed. 1400 a month.
    RIP…You too Lyndon…




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