The Debate: Round 1

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Lester Holt held the first presidential/moderator debate last night. Holt apparently felt that the “lady” needed some assistance, so it wasn’t surprising to see him coming to the aid of the damsel in distress.

In a debate that ostensibly tried to address aspects of foreign policy and cyber security, there were no questions about email security, Benghazi, or immigration. Of course, Holt couldn’t be expected to focus on those issues when more important matters like the birther controversy needed to be addressed. That’s why he grilled Clinton on why her supporters floated the question of Obama’s citizenship and why they were behind the photo of Obama in Muslim-like garb…not! What Holt really wanted to know was why it took Trump so long to acknowledge Obama’s citizenship. Trump’s supporters cheered when he said that he would release his tax returns when Clinton released the 30K+ emails she deleted, but Holt immediately reminded them of their agreement to keep quiet. Hillary’s supporters cheered several times afterward without any admonishment from Holt.

For conservatives, there wasn’t a lot to cheer about. Trump played “me too” on child care and the no-fly list. He missed opportunities to rebut Clinton with respect to supply-side economics and raising the minimum wage. He also failed to show why Clinton’s tax-the-rich approach is doomed to failure.

Trump was right, however, when he countered Clinton’s assertion about New York City’s crime rate. Although overall crime is down, homicide, rape and robbery rose. He also got her to lie about her support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Clinton claimed to have been against it “once it was finally negotiated,” but as with other lies she’s told about her positions on major issues, she got caught on that one too—before the debate!

Who won? As to style, Clinton’s political experience enabled her to give a much smoother delivery. Although her voice sounded strained on occasion, it was mostly clear and strong. Trump did better than I thought he would do, but remarks like he was “smart” for not paying income taxes made him sound both childish and smug. For the many undecideds, that’s all they need to give the nod to Clinton. As to substance, Clinton offered the same old shell game and grandstanding. Trump effectively countered by citing the failed results in areas under Democratic domination. In other words, no matter how smoothly you might talk, the results speak for themselves. We cannot afford to keep adding to the 20-trillion-dollar national debt, and we cannot continue to support the inept foreign policies that have characterized her tenure as Secretary of State. I think undecided voters (whoever is undecided at this point doesn’t have a sweet clue what the issues are) will say that Clinton won. I’d have to agree that in terms of pure debating points, Clinton helped her candidacy more than Trump helped his. Two more to go.

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