I didn’t watch the debate last night — not in real time, anyway. And I questioned whether or not I was going to watch it at all. I’m very reluctant to dedicate any moment of my life to anything involving Donald Trump — unless it pays me; hence, whatever the hell this is that I do — because he’s a Nazi monkfish, easily 40 percent of this country is going to still vote for him, and that depresses and enrages me on both an epistemological and primal level.
A colleague of mine countered with, “Well, what about dedicating that time to Hillary?” Well, what about it? I’m voting for her and, despite what pundits say, everyone who is going to vote for her has already decided to. Nothing will change that.
On top of that, she’s got something like 264 electoral votes all but wrapped up; with those kinds of numbers, all she needs is a single battleground win before the giant red FINISH HIM sign lights up. At this point, it’s all about ratings and entertainment, possibly at the expense of this nation’s soul.
But yeah, I eventually watched it. I watched it straight through once, then re-watched the clips of Trump being rhetorically smashed by Hillary. That means that, out of this 90-minute debate, I re-watched about 87 minutes. I drank cabernet and ate tortilla chips while giggling helplessly.
Anyway, here are a few takeaways:
- Expect the Expected
Hillary did the smart thing in preparing for several different versions of Trump. He’s tried, in recent weeks, to swing, not to the middle, but maybe just a little bit to the left of “My followers should assassinate Hillary Clinton, but not until I rub her husband’s infidelities in her face.” It was far too little, far too late, but Clinton’s team understood —because they are actual seasoned political professionals and not a group of lobotomized honey badgers — that if a calmer, leaner, more soft-spoken version of Trump appeared on that debate stage, they needed to be ready for it.
But holy hell did that not happen. Trump was rattled from the beginning, and didn’t respond with any kind of grace, calm or knowledge about any of Clinton’s accusations, from his stiffing of laborers on his property — “maybe I wasn’t satisfied with the work” — to his outright admittance that he hasn’t paid income taxes in God knows how long — “that makes me smart” — and so on. It was like watching the climactic scene in “Inherit the Wind,” if Spencer Tracy instead had to cross-examine a giant tumor wearing a suit.
There has been so much talk of presidential “appearance” and “temperament” from both camps. Only one candidate came out looking presidential last night, and it wasn’t the rabid sack of meat parts that the GOP nominated.
- Lester Holt. LESTER HOLT.
It should give you some idea of how good a job Lester Holt did that Trump, his camp and every Twitter troll that supports him were already accusing Holt of lobbing softballs at Clinton, of taking bribes, etc. #LesterFailed is trending on Twitter just about as much as #LesterforPresident is.
He’s being accused of bias, of not bringing up questions on Clinton’s email scandal, the Clinton Foundation or Benghazi. And it’s true that he didn’t. I have two thoughts on this: first, these have been literally the only lines of attack that the Trump camp has been able to lean on, and they’ve run them into the ground. A congressional hearing exonerated Clinton of wrongdoing in the Benghazi case. Sure, Republicans are still pursuing it, because they’re a bunch of house cats that think that toy mouse is real. An FBI investigation exonerated her of blame in the email scandal.
Second, I dare any moderator, or Trump himself, to bring up the Clinton Foundation and its “controversies,” which rest solely on “conflicts of interest” regarding Clinton’s term as Secretary of State and a single employee who was working for the foundation and as a private consultant at the same time. Boo hoo. This is an organization that has received the highest ratings by multiple charity watchdog groups, and makes AIDS medication more available and affordable in less-developed countries. Trump, meanwhile, used his foundation to buy a portrait of himself and pay off personal debts.
I DARE YOU.
- He’s Doubling Down on Everything
The morning after the debates, Trump appeared on “Fox & Friends,” ostensibly to do a little bit of disaster management on the most softball of softball forums. Instead, coming on the heels of a debate where, like most of the general election season, he’s been hammered for blatant misogyny and speaking of women in derogatory manners, he said this of a former Ms. Universe: “She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.”
If you look real close, you can see the “Fox & Friends” hosts’ souls leaking out of their various orifices, flipping the bird and floating away.