Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Winners and losers from tonight's presidential debate
Tonight was the last debate and just like the first two it made me cringe that we have fallen so far from the types of debates we have known in the past. We have always had respectful debates in the past, even when the candidates could not stand each other.
Not this year.
A few years ago, I received quite a bit of criticism when I wrote negatively about the Congressman who shouted, "Liar," to President Obama as he was delivering his State of the Union message.
Now I look back on that shout and wonder if I was mistaken. Could that shout possibly pass for civility now?
Tonight, just as in the first two debates, candidates interrupted each other, the term "liar" was strewn about casually to the point where it nearly lost all meaning, and both candidates continued talking over moderator Chris Wallace on several occasions, far beyond the time-honored tradition of slipping in an extra sentence or two after time has expired.
On the other hand, we still probably learned more about the two candidates' positions on various issues tonight than in the first two debates combined.
Following are my winners and losers from tonight's debate. Please feel free to leave a comment or your own thoughts on the debate. I would love to hear from you.
Chris Wallace- Hands down, the winner of the debate. He asked questions designed to pin down both candidates, and kept control of the debate far better than Anderson Cooper, Martha Raddatz, and Lester Holt. The choice of a Fox News anchorman as moderator was criticized by some on the Democratic side, but Wallace has always been a top notch interviewer and a fair and tough one, just like his father. Fox News does emphasize different stories and angles than the other 24-hour news stations, but it has some top notch reporters. It also has Sean Hannity, but that's another matter entirely.
Hillary Clinton- She did not make any major mistakes and though that is a low barrier, that is all she had to do. She did not say anything that might convince Bernie Sanders supporters to stay home or take a flyer at Gary Johnson or Jill Stein.
Education- Three debates passed without one question being raised about education. Considering that neither Trump nor Clinton has anything worthwhile to say about K-12 education, it was probably just as well.
The American People- The debates are over.
Claire McCaskill- After I watched tonight's debate, I kept wondering if McCaskill, a Hillary Clinton supporter, might not have advised Clinton to make sure she faced a candidate like Todd Akin in the general election. Trump has done everything except talk about legitimate rape.
Donald Trump- I am sure there were many people who cheered when Trump referred to Clinton as "a nasty woman," but those are the people who were already going to vote for him no matter what he says or does. It's not a presidential comment but then, that should come as no surprise to anyone.
Trump, who has campaigned on the slogan "Make America Great Again," showed he has little or no understanding of what makes America great. His comment about leaving America in suspense about whether he will accept the results of the election if he loses, shows he does not understand that the peaceful transition of power after a change in president, which we will have this year no matter who wins, is part of what makes America great. This even applies in situations where we do not have presidential elections. It is not mentioned much any more, but in 1973 and 1974, during the height of the Watergate crisis, there was a genuine fear that President Nixon would declare martial law to maintain power. Instead, he resigned August 9, 1974, an appointed vice president Gerald Ford became president with the support of both parties and government continued as it has always done.
We also made it through the 1960 and 2000 elections thanks to the gracious concessions of Nixon and Al Gore after the final results were announced (though it took five weeks in 2000) Considering that we also have an electoral college system that has resulted in candidates winning the presidency who did not win the popular vote and we still have peaceful transitions of power, it makes Trump's assertions even more reprehensible.
Hillary Clinton- She dodged some of Wallace's questions, but she did not do it in an artful manner. It was clumsily obvious she was dodging the questions The dodging on the Clinton Foundation question was painfully obvious. Wallace said beforehand he did not think it was his job to fact check the candidates. That choice worked with both Trump and Clinton. With Clinton, it showed that she was dodging. If she is not Crooked Hillary, as Trump termed her, she at least earned the title of Shifty Hillary. By launching into a dissertation about all of the wonderful things the Clinton Foundation has done and taking a brief shot at the Trump Foundation, she made it painfully obvious that her critics have her dead to rights on their claims that the Clinton State Department intervened to make sure the friends and contributors to the Clinton Foundation received special treatment.
Wallace leveled that charge. Clinton let it remain unanswered. The American people are not stupid enough to overlook that.
John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, heck even Bobby Jindal- They have to be watching these debates and thinking about how they could have exploited Hillary Clinton's flaws far better than Trump.
The Republican Party- John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, heck even Bobby Jindal, and you nominated Donald Trump?