Clinton And Trump Clash In First Presidential Debate

It wasn't exactly Lincoln-Douglas but, in the end, Hillary Clinton clearly outperformed Donald Trump last night.

First Presidential Debate 2016

Heading into last night’s first Presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, one of the many questions that talking heads and pundits were batting around was which version of each candidate would show up at Hofstra University last night, and what it would mean for the election as a whole. Would we see the ‘new’ Donald Trump that we’ve seen in the past month or so, who has largely stuck to the campaign’s message, avoided saying anything controversial, and basically managed to control himself, or would we see the aggressive, out of control, and ‘meaner’ Trump that was the focus of Republican debates for the Autumn and Winter of 2015 and the better part of 2016 through the remainder of the race for the 2016 and the beginning of the General Election cycle. On Hillary Clinton’s side, the question if whether we’d see the Hillary who we had seen for most of the 2016 race, of if her recent battle with pneumonia would make it hard for her to make it through a ninety minute debate during which there would be no breaks and any repetition of the coughing fits that she had been experiencing on the campaign trail would lead to more questions about her health status. In the end, what we got was a debate in which Clinton clearly outperformed Trump, but it’s not clear at all what impact that will have on the race as a whole:

In a relentlessly antagonistic debate, Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton clashed over trade, the Iraq war, his refusal to release his tax returns and her use of a private email server, with Mr. Trump frequently showing impatience and political inexperience as Mrs. Clinton pushed him to defend his past denigration of women and President Obama.

Mr. Trump repeatedly interrupted Mrs. Clinton and at times talked over her throughout the 90-minute debate, making slashing attacks that surely pleased his Republican base but may have been off-putting to women and undecided voters. He also left unchallenged her assertion that he paid no federal taxes for years.

For her part, Mrs. Clinton repeatedly chided Mr. Trump for bungling his facts while accusing him of hiding information about his debts to Wall Street and foreign banks.

Mr. Trump’s strongest moments came early in the evening, when he put Mrs. Clinton on the defensive over her support for free trade agreements that he argues have cost Americans jobs.

But on issues of race and gender, Mr. Trump was less sure-footed. When he was pressed about what he would say to people offended by his years of questions about whether Mr. Obama was born in the United States, Mr. Trump did not respond directly, instead claiming credit for Mr. Obama’s releasing his birth certificate.

“I say nothing because I was able to get him to produce it,” he said of the birth certificate.

Mrs. Clinton also tried to drive a wedge between Mr. Trump and the president, whose approval ratings are on the rise. “Barack Obama is a man of great dignity, and I could tell how much it bothered him,” she said of the controversy, in a clear appeal to voters who deeply admire Mr. Obama but are less enthusiastic about her.

She also broadened the issue beyond so-called birtherism, which she called a “racist lie,” and accused Mr. Trump of having “a long record of engaging in racist behavior.” She singled out his family’s real estate company for being sued by the Justice Department in 1973 for racial discrimination.

Mr. Trump did little to rebut her charges of racism. He instead said that he had recently watched some of her debates with Mr. Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary and that she had been quite harsh on her then-rival. “You treated him with terrible disrespect,” he said. But Mr. Trump himself repeatedly demeaned Mr. Obama in the debate, at one point telling Mrs. Clinton that he was “your president” and, at another, mocking Mr. Obama over his penchant for golf.

Later, Mrs. Clinton recalled Mr. Trump’s stream of insults to women over the years, a determined effort by her to rally female voters to her side.

“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 women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men,” Mrs. Clinton said. Referring to a be`ty pageant contestant, she continued: “He called this woman Miss Piggy. Then he called her Miss Housekeeping, because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.”

Mr. Trump did not have a forceful rejoinder, saying that most of his insults had been aimed at the comedian Rosie O’Donnell, with whom he had feuded. “I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her,” he said.

But Mr. Trump said mysteriously that he had “something extremely rough” to say about “Hillary and her family,” then added, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” He told CNN afterward that he was proud of “holding back” on Bill Clinton and his extramarital affairs because the Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea, was in the audience.

The debate took on a surreal quality at times, with more discussion of insults like “slobs” than immigration or the Affordable Care Act. Mrs. Clinton came off as a classically prepared debater who used Mr. Trump’s record and words against him at 19 separate moments, while Mr. Trump seemed to be improvising on stage much of the time. And Mr. Trump was stunningly personal in his attacks, such as questioning Mrs. Clinton’s stamina.

She fired back: “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.”

Mr. Trump also targeted Mrs. Clinton for not taking a sufficiently hard line on crime, chastising her for refusing to say “law and order.”

Blacks and Hispanics, he said, “are living in hell because it’s so dangerous.”

He attacked Mrs. Clinton from the right on policing, suggesting that she supported “stop-and-frisk” policies but was not saying so for unstated political reasons. But in an attempt to damage her with black voters, he also invoked her use of the word “superpredator” in the 1990s to describe youthful criminals. “I think it was a terrible thing to say,” he said.

The debate was like no other in the television era: The first female presidential nominee of a major party facing off against an alpha male businessman with no political experience, both of them world-famous and both of them deeply unpopular, with a potential record-setting audience of 100 million watching and hoping to see their preferred candidate blow the other to smithereens.

To be fair, Clinton did not utterly defeat Trump last night to the point where he is likely to be fatally wounded going forward. While she did score several good points on foreign policy, race relations, economic policy, and Trump’s basic lack of knowledge about issues one would think a President would be well-informed about, Trump also scored his own points that at the very least likely pleased his supporters. For example, although I emphatically disagree with his policy positions when it comes to international trade and agreements such as NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership, Trump used a question about job creation to effectively address those issues and to speak to an ethos that seems quite common in the Rust Belt that these agreements have been one sided and have harmed American manufacturing. He did not do quite as well when the question shifted to how he would create new jobs and precisely how he could fulfill his promise to bring back American jobs that have gone overseas, In response to a question on the second issue, for example, Trump cycled back to his trade position even though it’s rather obvious that the issue of manufacturing moving overseas is more about the reality of American business taking advantage of lower costs overseas than it is about the details of international trade, Of course, Trump’s argument on trade is emotional rather than fact-based to begin with so it’s likely that the people with whom it resonates aren’t really going to give much consideration to facts such as this.

Beyond the issue of trade, though, Trump seemed largely unprepared in a way that was readily apparent in a two-person debate during which there were no commercial interruptions. While this strategy may have worked well for him during the multi-candidate debates that took place during the race for the Republican nomination, it didn’t come across well at all in a two person debate where he could not fade into the woodwork as he often did during those events, and especially not when he was being frequently and effectively challenged by an opponent who was obviously better prepared than he was. On economic policy, for example, Clinton’s responses regarding what she would do to create jobs were far more detailed and precise than Trump’s general-isms about trade and stopping American companies from moving overseas, something he’s never really explained how he would accomplish. After about the first half hour or so, it became clear that Trump was very much a fish out of water and his lack of specificity was made apparent at several points throughout the debate thereafter. For example, this response to a question about nuclear weapons policy late in the debate made no sense whatsoever, while Clinton came across as fully prepared and knowledgeable on the subject, as you’d expect a former Secretary of State to be.

For the most part, I’d say that Lester Holt did a fine job as debate moderator, the first time he’s performed such a role on the national stage that I’m aware of, but there were several issues with the format of last night’s encounter that likely made it less than useful for prospective voters. Far too much time was spent, for example, on non-substantive issues such as Clinton’s email server and Trump’s past comments about women to the detriment of a broader discussion of issues that voters are likely most concerned about. Additionally, while detailed discussions about substantive issues did take place, there were several occasions during which Holt simply lost control of the debate. Given that he was dealing with two ‘Alpha’ personalities on the stage, I suppose it isn’t surprising that this would happen but it did mean that there was less time for discussion and that the debate did not even come close to discussing all of the subject areas that Holt had said he wanted to touch upon before the debate began. The three people who will moderate the remaining debate would be well-advised to learn from Holt’s mistakes in this area and do a better job of controlling the time so that more issues can be touched upon in the limited amount of time available.

If I had to pick a ‘winner’ from what James Joyner correctly referred to as a low expectations debate that fully lived up to its lack of potential, I would give Clinton the edge simply because she was the one who came across as prepared, well-informed, most at ease, and, well, Presidential, while Trump ultimately came across as if he were, in the words of one of the people I follow on Twitter, “a sixth grader bullshitting an oral report about a book he didn’t read.” Most of Trump’s responses to questions that asked for detail were little more than repetitions of the same talking points we’ve heard from his speeches in the past. While that may have had his supporters cheering, it’s not the kind of thing you want to hear from a candidate for President and it seems unlikely to impress voters. Additionally, Trump’s return to the aggressive persona we’d seen in previous debates, while it may be something his supporters will appreciate, seems unlikely to work to Trump’s advantage with the electorate as a whole. In the end, of course, how you evaluate the debate is going to depend significantly on what you thought about the candidates headed into the affair. In that regard, my own avowed disdain for Trump is likely influencing my opinion of his performance. In the end, what matters is what the voters thought, and we won’t really know that for sure until the first round of post-debate polling starts rolling in later this week. My suspicion is that we’ll see a slight turn back toward Clinton that will be sufficient to blunt his momentum at the national and state levels. By then, though, we’ll be getting ready for the Vice-Presidential debate next Tuesday, October 4th and the next Presidential debate on Sunday October 9th.

If you missed last night’s debate, you can read the transcript or watch the video below:

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Thor thormussen says:

    By then, though, we’ll be getting ready for the Vice-Presidential debate next Tuesday, October 4th and the next Presidential debate on Sunday October 9th.

    Now that the Prez cake is baked, I just want to see Kaine vs Pence for my own entertainment. Kaine is a very smart and likable man, and Pence is shockingly dumb, like, his staffers tell stories about how dumb he is, and multiple reporters have commented on it.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Call Sean Hannity!

  3. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Call Sean Hannity!

    What should we call him?

  4. KM says:

    She kicked his ass. As expected.

    Can we all finally move on with our lives now?

  5. Thor thormussen says:

    Mer-rick! Mer-rick! Mer-rick!

  6. C. Clavin says:

    Clinton did OK…not great. Reynolds is probably right with a “C” performance.
    She missed a couple big knock-out punches.
    ~ After the bit about the housing discrimination suit she should have followed up with the full page ad he took out saying that those 5 kids should get the death penalty for killing a central park jogger…when it turns out they were innocent.
    ~ She did a good job hammering him on his deficit exploding tax giveaway to the rich, but when he went on a tear saying she was going to raise taxes and destroy the economy, she should have responded that that is the the typical Republican response and it’s dead wrong…they said it when Bush 41 raised taxes and when Clinton 42 raised taxes and they were wrong and they said it when Obama raised taxes and they were wrong. Republicans are always wrong about the economy. Always.

  7. CSK says:

    Trump already has a conspiracy theory to explain his loss: He was given a faulty microphone. No, I am not kidding.

  8. Tillman says:

    @Thor thormussen:

    I just want to see Kaine vs Pence for my own entertainment.

    Seriously? With 2008 you had the at-the-time unique vacuousness of Sarah Palin, herself now considerably eloquent in hindsight compared to Trump. In 2012, one could watch just to see what Biden would do to Ryan, but no special draw really. Kaine vs. Pence seems positively milquetoast by contrast.

    I’ll watch it, but that’s because I’m a cursed soul doomed to give a crap about these things. I don’t expect entertainment from it. Pence is a dense ideologue and Kaine isn’t exciting unless he’s speaking Spanish. To be fair, if Kaine does pull out some Spanish Pence might start barking like a rabid dog at him, and that would be worth it.

  9. al-Alameda says:

    To me, Clinton was very solid, not spectacular, but she understood how to handle Trump’s temperament to her advantage. Trump, on the other hand, was embarrassingly bad.

    Still, I can see no minds being changed because of any of this. People who are attracted to Trump are not going to change their minds nor are they going to sit the election out, they’re going to blame the moderator for providing an advantage to Clinton, or blame the television technicians for sabotaging Trump by “rigging” the sound system to make him look bad.

    It’s still about Hillary getting natural Democratic constituencies to turn out.

  10. Stormy Dragon says:

    Now that waterboarding has been banned, future terrorism detainees will be interrogated by forcing them to listen to Trump and Clinton bicker for hours on end.

  11. C. Clavin says:

    And now he is saying that he wasn’t sniffling.
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/09/no-sniffles-trump-says-denying-the-obvious.html
    No wonder Jenos wants to be his butt-buddy…they are soul-mates…conspiracy theories and a complete lack of self-awareness…a romance made in hell.

  12. Moosebreath says:

    @C. Clavin:

    “Call Sean Hannity!

    What should we call him?”

    A cab.

  13. Thor thormussen says:

    Yeah seriously. Pence is phenomenally stupid. He makes Dan Quayle look like Norbert Wiener. It could be hi-larious.

  14. J-Dub says:

    And somewhere out there is a 400lb hacker, laying in bed, surrounded by empty bottles of Mountain Dew Code Red and Hot Pocket wrappers, congratulating himself for invading the Hofstra network and disrupting Trump’s microphone.

  15. SKI says:

    @C. Clavin:

    She missed a couple big knock-out punches.

    Except those aren’t knock-out punches to the persuadables.
    1. Re-litigating the Central Park 5 (which most people outside of the NYC metro area don’t remember) muddies the waters when the non-denial of his racist renting habits stands clean and clear.

    2. She did in fact hit on Trump adopting the typical – and wrong – republican trickle-down economics – at least twice that I recall but that isn’t going to be a knock-out to Trump.

    To the extent she missed a significant opportunity it was in failing to point out the number of times he didn’t actually answer the questions Holt asked. She could have done that and highlighted how ignorant he was. She hit him but was perhaps too subtle in doing so.

    Short version, she wasn’t perfect but no one ever is. He was a historically bad trainwreck.

  16. JKB says:

    I didn’t watch it all, but popped over a bunch of times. Didn’t see anything dramatic going on. I’d have to agree Hillary won on points. However, I’d say nothing has changed other than expected viewership of the rest of the debates, which will go down. No drama or comedy and the plot was predictable.

    Perhaps we all missed something and Mika is right to be so despondent?

  17. cian says:

    Here’s the thing though, every step of the way so far in the 2016 presidential race, Trump has failed badly. During the primaries he was outrageous and still the voters went for him; the republican convention was a disaster, and yet the polls are tied; every interview he has done, be it on TV, in the press, or online, has been an exercise in gibberish, and yet…

    What was obvious, and may sway the few truly undecideds, was his total lack of preparation and inability to think on his feet, two attributes essential in someone interviewing for the most important job in the world. If you’re a serious person and want the best for the country, this has got to count.

  18. SKI says:

    @michael reynolds:
    The folks at the Ringer’s political podcast, Keeping it 1600, did just that..

    So the ‘Keepin' It 1600’ crew took up @realDonaldTrump on his plea to call Sean Hannity… #debatenight #debates2016 pic.twitter.com/2qf2QoTflC— The Ringer (@ringer) September 27, 2016

  19. Thor thormussen says:

    So onto 2020: Cruz vs Ryan!

  20. An Interested Party says:

    Now that waterboarding has been banned, future terrorism detainees will be interrogated by forcing them to listen to Trump and Clinton bicker for hours on end.

    Yeah, it’s a real shame that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein weren’t on that stage…their eloquence and knowledge would have shone through…

  21. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin: A knockout punch she missed — and to be fair, Trump is so off-the-cuff it’s not as if you could prepare for this — was when Trump claimed evading taxes made him smart. Jeb Lund has the definitive take on this:

    Last but not least, Clinton missed a huge opportunity during the exchange about Trump’s taxes. Clinton pointed out that Trump’s financial statements “for a couple of years where he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license … showed he did not pay any federal income tax.”

    Trump replied, “That makes me smart.”

    While America might be a nation of 300 million temporarily embarrassed millionaires who see no problem in principle with evading taxes because they will eventually be in Trump’s position themselves, there’s a lot to make of a statement like this.

    Clinton was on a roll, clearly hoping to get through prepared material, and she let Trump off the hook with all the people who play by the rules. Are they stupid? Are people who obey the law morons? Is everyone who thinks they should pitch in for roads and schools a chump? And how ethical are Trump’s smarts? Is he legally paying zero taxes, or is he putting himself on the same plane of financial genius as Al Capone?

    Peter Sagal noted that she didn’t task him over the story of the “small” loan (read: millions) Trump’s father gave him despite having time to think over it, so it’s not a matter of her being not perfect but having been “overprepared” (which Chuck Todd’s getting a lot of flack for pointing out). Frankly, you could call this debate Preparation vs. Improvisation and not be far off.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK:

    Trump already has a conspiracy theory to explain his loss: He was given a faulty microphone. No, I am not kidding.

    Yeah. The dang thing repeated everything he said.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @cian:

    If you’re a serious person and want the best for the country, this has got to count.

    But she needs a majority.

  24. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:

    Well, there’s that. But he’s contending it gave him the sniffles.

  25. gVOR08 says:

    @Tillman: I’m hearing a fair amount of commentary about Trump’s, “That makes me smart.” line and ‘they’d have just squandered it anyway’ crack as an admission that he paid little or nothing. Trump did a fine job of shooting himself in the foot in his mouth, and I think Hillary did fine by stepping back and letting him.

  26. Neil Hudelson says:

    Did I watch a different debate than everyone? It was clear that Trump won. Maybe it’s just because I’m a different generation than most here. I, like Trump, came up with the internet and came through with the internet and above the internet and I’m very good on the cyber. While most of you are talking about who was more poised, I think we can all agree when you look at what ISIS is doing with the internet, they’re beating us at our own game. ISIS.

    So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is — it is a huge problem. I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it’s hardly doable.

  27. Thor thormussen says:

    Call Sean Hannity. He’ll tell you.

  28. Jen says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Yup. “The Cyber” is the proper noun name for a series of tubes.

    In true worrywart fashion, I’ve moved on to worrying about the next debate, which as a town hall format will probably play more to the showman’s strengths than this format did. Clinton struggles to come off as personable, even though she did just fine in town hall settings here in NH in the primaries.

  29. An Interested Party says:

    Let’s drop down to Trump’s level…one of the reasons he lost the debate is because she has a bigger pair of balls than he does

    Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the debate ten minutes ago (as I begin writing) because she showed that, at last, someone knows how to stand up to a macho bully. She talked; he interrupted. She persisted; he went on interrupting. In this fashion, she dominated. She affirmed; he complained. Eventually an aura emanated from her side of the stage. It signified self-confidence. She banged her biggest drum on the topic of NATO’s and America’s leadership in world affairs. “Our word is good,” she said about the United States and its treaties—which is to say, she spoke for America. Then again, she herself made the point about her domination when she responded to his accusations about her stamina. She cited certain things she has done—her world tours as Secretary of State, her ability to withstand eleven hours of questioning from the House committee on Benghazi. And she said that, when he has done anything similar, “he can talk to me about stamina.” That was the powerful line. The tough guy at Hofstra University was Hillary Clinton.

  30. Tillman says:

    @gVOR08: Hammering him on that point would’ve been more devastating than standing back. He hurts himself in the latter approach only with people not inclined to vote for him to begin with. Had she gone after him on it, she could’ve subverted the normal right-wing shibboleth of “those people” leeching off of your paid taxes by noting Trump is one of those people. It would undermine the identity he’s tried crafting from the primaries, and could’ve peeled off people taken in by it. The one mentioned by Sagal is another way she could’ve undermined his crafted identity.

    I don’t like coasting to victory, it smacks of overestimating one’s own chances.

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    You found it difficult to listen to? I didn’t. I had a great time. I like watching a fatuous, ignorant, narcissistic, lying, vulgar, racist, woman-hating psychopathic pig be unmasked by a competent, capable, calm and in control woman. I could watch your boy Trump babbling and sniffing like a man coming down off a cocaine bender all day.

  32. DrDaveT says:

    I really wish Hillary were a better counterpuncher. She missed a number of golden opportunities.

    The most striking (to me) was when Trump said something along the lines of “I used those laws to my advantage, which is just smart. You don’t like the laws, change them.” To which the correct answer is “That’s exactly what I’m here to do — to change those laws so that parasites on the economy can’t keep doing what you have made a career of.”

    Also I would have loved to hear this…

    TRUMP: I’ve created millions of jobs.
    CLINTON: Yeah, but then you refused to pay them.

  33. LaMont says:

    “To be fair, Clinton did not utterly defeat Trump last night to the point where he is likely to be fatally wounded going forward.”

    Why would anybody expect Clinton to do this? If not showing your tax returns, admitting to being audited by the IRS the last 15 years, being a xenophobic, misogynistic, bigoted, money cheating monster that says he could shoot someone and still not lose does not kill Trump, why should you, in any way, insinuate that Clinton should be judged on being incapable of “fatally wounding” Trump?

  34. JKB says:

    @Tillman: Clinton pointed out that Trump’s financial statements “for a couple of years where he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license … showed he did not pay any federal income tax.”

    Clinton’s economic ignorance has a long history:

    These income-tax laws also deal with “profits” as if they were salaries. The income-tax authors are very astonished if a firm doesn’t have a profit every year. They don’t realize that there are good years and bad years for an enterprise. One consequence was that during the depression in the early 1930s people used to say, “How unjust that a man who owns a big factory doesn’t have to pay any income tax this year, while a man who makes only $300 a month has to pay.” It was not unjust from the point of view of the law; that year the big factory owner had no “income.”

    von Mises, Ludwig. Marxism Unmasked (LvMI)

  35. michael reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I do the same thing all the way through the debate. It’s very frustrating. She is plodding. Thank God Trump’s a fwcking idiot.

  36. Franklin says:

    @Thor thormussen: I hope you guys are right about Pence’s intelligence. But how hard is it, really, to repeat talking points in a debate? (Aside from the fact that Trump had trouble doing so last night.)

  37. C. Clavin says:

    Luckily for Mike Pence, if they happen to win, the Government will pay his salary…because Trump won’t pay him, based on past history.

  38. cian says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I kind of like playing that game too: If I were her I would have said…And when he said that I’d say this.

    Truth is, its a very tough gig. I doubt anyone commenting here has ever experienced the kind of pressure she was under, and she handled herself brilliantly, while he fell apart. Which is why she’ll be president and he wont.

  39. gVOR08 says:

    @JKB: One – on what basis are you claiming the couple of tax returns that surfaced were atypical bad years? Trump as much as admitted last night that his last return would show little or nothing in federal income tax. Two – in most quarters ignorance of von Mises counts as a virtue.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    @Franklin:

    But how hard is it, really, to repeat talking points in a debate?

    Somebody said last night that Trump did OK because he got his points out. That’s when I knew Hillary won. They said the same thing after Lloyd Bentsen took Dan Quayle’s lunch money in the ’88 Veep debate. Quayle had been shouting out memorized GOP talking points more or less at random.

  41. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You found it difficult to listen to? I didn’t. I had a great time.”

    Ditto. It was like watching a Superbowl blowout game, when it’s you team that’s doing the a$$ kicking .

    A little worried at first…maybe the other team brought their A game… But you could see that wasn’t the case.

    And, unfortunately, the morning has been spent reading the pundits and watching the game highlights. Productivity is just shot.

    One down, two to go.

  42. @michael reynolds:

    “my boy Trump”?

  43. gVOR08 says:

    Caught Chris Christie post debate on MSNBC last night. Must really suck to be him right now. And the look on Trump’s spit weasel son in law’s face was priceless.

  44. @michael reynolds:

    You found it difficult to listen to?

    Yes, as I get older I find I have a harder and harder time listening to people who speak a lot of words without actually saying anything.

  45. Stonetools says:

    @LaMont:

    Yeah, with Trump there was never going to be some knockout blow scenario. As to those who think they could have done better than Clinton, it is d@mn hard doing these things in real time, under the lights. She not only did quite well, she did a lot better than Rubio, Kasich, Cruz et al, who got steamrollered by the same guy who she beat like a rented mule.
    The likelihood is that she will continue the beat down in the next two debates too, unless Trump put in the work and makes big improvements. I think it’s time for the Democrats to take off their depends. Things are looking up

  46. gVOR08 says:

    Long ago (the late sixties) in a galaxy far away (Champaign IL) I shared a cheap apartment with three other guys. One evening I was there with the girlfriend of one of the roomies watching the Smother’s Brothers. They did a regular bit, home making tips, “Share a Little Tea with Goldie”. Goldie was a DFH stoner. The nights topic was how to rid your home of those unsightly roaches. The very straight girlfriend wasn’t getting any of it and I didn’t want to be the one to explain marijuana culture to her, so I about ruptured myself trying to keep a straight face and not break out laughing. That was the look on Hillary’s face much of last night.

  47. Steve V says:

    The Alicia Machado thing seems to have legs. I imagine Trump’s handlers have taken his phone away until it blows over, or he’d be tweeting himself into a bigger hole today.

  48. pylon says:

    @JKB: Speaking of ignorance, Trump keeps referring to his business income from various enterprises as if it is the same as net profit. “we had income of X million dollars – what a fantastic business!” Is he being deliberately misleading or doesn’t he know there is a whole other side of a balance sheet?

    Do you know the best rebuttal to “you didn’t pay income taxes”? It’s “yes I did and here are my returns”. You know what would be a lukewarm second? “Yes I did – I paid a lot of taxes in the past few years but I can’t show my returns (for BS reasons)”. Trump did neither. He almost admitted the truth with his non-denial.

  49. Scott says:

    @DrDaveT: She did miss a few counterpunches but she didn’t have to unload all her ammo last night. There are two more debates.

    And it is easier to counterpunch sitting in the living room. I’ll toss in one:

    In Palm Beach, Florida, tough community, a brilliant community, a wealthy community, probably the wealthiest community there is in the world, I opened a club, and really got great credit for it. No discrimination against African- Americans, against Muslims, against anybody.

    She could’ve said: “So you did the right thing and didn’t discriminate. As Chris Rock would say: What do you want, a cookie?

    I’m also waiting for the defenders of the 2nd Amendment to weigh in on the confiscation of weapons during stop and frisk. Should prove awkward.

  50. Gustopher says:

    @pylon: For not paying income taxes, a great response would have been “That’s the way the tax code is written — if you reinvest your income to create new jobs, blah blah blah, and you know what? We need more of that, because we need more jobs.”

    Voila, takes a weakness, ties it to a perceived strength (“Trump creates jobs for which he sometimes actually pays the people after they do the work”), and then uses that as a specific example to explain why trickle down might work.

  51. bookdragon says:

    @An Interested Party: Yep. But if anything will count against him with the bully bros that love him, it will be that by the end he was reduced to a sniveling man boy whining about how she’d been running ads that were hard on him and that was just NOT NICE. (Waaah!) And here he’d been such a gentleman by not saying saying something very tough because he knew it would be ‘inappropriate’….

    My 15 yr old daughter, who had to watch as part of a civics assignment, rolled her eyes at that point and asked if he was 5. The last time she saw anyone getting a smiley sticker for stopping himself from saying something ‘inappropriate’ was in kindergarten. Part of her assignment sheet was to how each candidate came across at the end. She may get marked down for it, but for Trump she put down “rude, petulant, whiny child”.

  52. Rick DeMent says:

    @al-Alameda:

    It’s not about changing minds, Trump has a cap of angry white voters and “burn it down” malcontents. Hillery has to juice up those who are on her side simply not all that excited to vote for her, which I think she did big time. Also there are all of those people who have been bombarded with facebook memes about how Hillery is the spawn of satan and mothra. Now they see this unflappable, poised and articulate woman on the stage and they start to think to themselves, “those Trump people are crazy, he’s crazy”. All she really needs is a 2-4% bump in a few states and it’s hail to Ms Chief.

  53. michael reynolds says:

    @bookdragon:

    You have raised a perceptive daughter.

  54. Tyrell says:

    @Thor thormussen: The investment firm ?

  55. Bookdragon says:

    @michael reynolds: She is naturally gifted …and very annoyed that she’s too young to vote but people who seem to have the mental and emotional age of toddlers can.

  56. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Yeah, you (me too, as far as that goes) get tarred for a Trumpeter for not believing that his election will usher in the Fourth Reich.

  57. mannning says:

    Two comments:
    1) It was very clear that Hillary was the better prepared and more articulate person;
    2) Trump did indeed throw out some topic labels, but failed to make his points specific enough.

    The vote come November will have to be against Hillary, not so much for Trump; that is, if Trump wins somehow.

    OMT: I hate liars.

  58. al-Alameda says:

    @mannning:

    OMT: I hate liars.

    So you hate both Trump and Clinton?

  59. mannning says:

    @al-Alameda:

    The short answer is : Yes!

    That said, I believe that Clinton committed by far the more egregious fibs hurting the nation, and was more or less certified as a liar by the FBI.

  60. Kylopod says:

    @mannning:

    and was more or less certified as a liar by the FBI.

    “We have no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.” – FBI Director James Comey at House Oversight Committee, July 7, 2016

    There’s a real irony in the fact that you’re spreading a lie in order to make your point.

  61. mannning says:

    @Kylopod:

    I refer you to FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to Congress where he unequivocally answered Gowdy’s questions as to whether Clinton had spoken the truth regarding her email use, to which Comey clearly stated No! That she didn’t lie to the FBI during her interview is not relevant.

    There is double irony here in that you didn’t absorb the entire hearing Committee transcript, where, in effect, Comey answered to Gowdy in the Negative four or five times, meaning Clinton had lied about her email use to the public.

  62. Kylopod says:

    @mannning:

    where he unequivocally answered Gowdy’s questions as to whether Clinton had spoken the truth regarding her email use, to which Comey clearly stated No!

    He admitted she said things which were incorrect, particularly regarding the classification status of three of the 30,000 some emails she sent or received. He didn’t say she knew they were incorrect.

    As a point of contrast, consider the following exchange during the same meeting:

    CUMMINGS: And General Petraeus did not admit to these facts when the FBI investigators first interviewed him, did he?

    COMEY: No, he lied about it.

    So just so we’re clear, Comey doesn’t mince words when he thinks someone lied. So how does it make sense to parse a statement where he didn’t admit any intentional deceit on Clinton’s part as implying just that, in direct contradiction to what he stated earlier?

  63. mannning says:

    Just to humor you, I agree that Comey didn’t say she lied in so many words. He did answer Gowdy’s questions, however, in the negative, which to me is the same thing. No amount of shading of those words can duck the issue. Incorrect = lie in this case in my book! So I repeat: Hillary is a liar pure and simple. And, if you want to go further into this, I have a passel of her other lies to draw upon. As in Benghazi, etc. Face it!

  64. Kylopod says:

    @mannning:

    Incorrect = lie in this case in my book!

    Well it’s a free country, and it’s your right to use whatever “book” you want to define terms in whichever ways you please. If an elephant is a dog in your book, well, the more’s the merrier.