When he says he’s not spending time preparing for a debate, I believe him. Last night was the much anticipated debate. Or, let down as the case may be. Just a few thoughts from off the top of my head. I did watch the whole thing, such as it was.
The show turned out the way I imagined in terms of substance. Hillary is the consummate politician, and everything she said sounded like a career politician. The usual promises, the stats, the assurances. A reminder that when you think Washington insider, you aren’t far from the mark if Hillary is the first name that comes to mind.
Overall, she ran circles around Trump when it came to substance and knowledge. Except for the business segments where Trump did at times seem to have more ‘street knowledge’ about running a business, Hillary came off as the expert. Though I admit, there were a couple times that Trump seemed so much more experienced in actual business that it reminded me of that scene in Back to School where Rodney Dangerfield’s self made millionaire Thornton Mellon tells economics professor Dr. Phillip Barbay what it’s like to actually run a business – warts and all.
Nonetheless, when it moved on to the issue of race and security, Hillary hit Trump hard about the birther issue. No, strike that. Lester Holt hit Trump hard. Hillary went after Trump over his taxes. No, strike that. Lester Holt went after Trump repeatedly. In fact, I’m at pains to think of one time that Mr. Holt hit Hillary on anything. I did go to the bathroom once and get a drink, so maybe I missed it. But apart from the prepared questions, and asking if Hillary wanted to address points Trump brought up, did Mr. Holt hit Hillary with anything? I didn’t see it. That flagrant difference alone goes far in cementing the idea that Hillary and the press are one and the same.
Most of the initial buzz I heard from the pundits immediately after was that Hillary had humbugged the press. All this talk about being Ms. Nice Lady was a screen, and she came out swinging. She did. Ironically, most of Trump’s hardest attacks on her were dealing with the fact that she was a career politician in the position of promising us this time it will be different. Hitting her on her record. Hitting her on the policies she has been part of. Unless I missed it, he didn’t mention her Foundation. He didn’t mention deplorables. He didn’t mention Paula Jones.
It was Hillary who went below the belt. No, strike that. It was Mr. Holt who went after him on his taxes and his more controversial problems, 40 year old lawsuits all while Hillary added a little icing by bringing up his insults, his personality, his personal foibles.But the tag team of Hillary and Mr. Holt did have an impact, and a negative one at that. Trump, by halfway through, clearly was on the defensive. He began to ramble. He became defensive. He repeated himself endlessly. This, combined with his clear lack of preparation, began to make him look befuddled, confused, and at times, almost panicky. And for the persona Trump has tried to foster, I can’t imagine anything worse. If Hillary and Lester were hoping to get a Colonel Nathan Jessep moment, they at least ended up with a Captain Queeg.
This is all without being bombarded with outside opinion today. I haven’t even listened to what my boys had to say. So boring was the overall debate that when it was done, I went straight to bed. This is just from my first impressions. And knowing Hillary and her rather big picture approach to handling things, I can’t help but think last night was not the goal. As bad as Trump might have looked, or as professional, if not at times smug, she looked, the debate wasn’t the point. If I know Hillary’s tactics, the goal was to light a fire under Trump for today and following. To piss him off, so to speak.
The difference in how she and Trump were treated couldn’t be missed. The fact that she went more personal than Trump couldn’t be missed. But however bumbling and stumbling he appeared, last night wasn’t the end game. That will be today and tomorrow and the following week. Hopefully, Trump will revert to his old ways in a desperate bid for damage control. Hopefully he will go Paula Jones, or Hillary’s looks, or rants against the media’s bias, or anything that will get him away from his more disciplined demeanor of the last few weeks. Hopefully he will get nasty, mean, childish, obnoxious. A few Little Marcos would be nice right about now. Or perhaps a revelation that Bill was part of a conspiracy to assassinate Jack Kennedy. Anything to help her floundering campaign.
Because in the end, last night merely confirmed everything. Trump is not informed, does not know the details, and is an outsider looking in at the political game. Hillary, as I said, is the consummate politician. With the occasional grin of the cat that swallowed the canary, her prefabricated promises did nothing other than confirm the Hollywood caricature of a political insider. Promises we’ve all heard before from someone who has been there all along.
Those are the thoughts off the top. We’ll see what happens. I know if the press focuses on his sniffling or water drinking, it will mean Trump won, no matter what my impression was.