Last night, Donald Trump managed to behave himself by the very low standard we’ve collectively set for him for almost the first half hour of the final debate. Was he as good as some in the punditocracy suggested?
Is he ever?
No, no, no, no. To put things in perspective, think of the dog you trained to defecate on newspaper versus your freshly shined wooden floors who finally follows directions. That’s Trump for that period of time.
When the subject of the Supreme Court came up, Trump seemed more upset that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had bad things to say about him than anything else. Trump did speak passionately about abortion from his suddenly pro-life stance.
He was far too gory, hyperbolic, and not truthful about the number of late-term abortions actually performed, but he managed to form complete sentences that didn’t include insults. I imagine he lifted these lines from Mike Pence. His lies aside, it was about time we had discussions about reproductive rights in the presidential debates – you know, when it was Hillary Clinton’s turn to speak.
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Per usual, Trump was vigilant in his objections to NAFTA. If there is one constant about these debates, it’s Clinton's reluctance to directly address legitimate complaints about the trade deal her husband signed in the 1990s. If Trump were a more disciplined debater, he would have stuck to creating moments like these as opposed to...everything else. Say, referring to undocumented immigrants as “bad hombres” and revealing that he doesn't get the Second Amendment.
But super first half hour for Trump, y’all.
For much of the debate, Clinton and her expansive book of receipts highlighted what an uninformed fool she’s running against. Trump more or less went “nu uh!” at every claim Clinton made, only to have her follow it up with a direct quote.
As the debate went on, Trump knocked the voice of campaign manager Kellyanne Conway out of his head and returned to the sniffling, face crunching, rude somebody we’ve known him to be.
And it bears repeating: Trump knows nothing.
Trump spoke in incoherent circles about Syria. Trump couldn't just flat-out say his "MCE" Vladimir Putin is not the most amazing person and that the U.S. Intelligence community is correct about Russians hacking email accounts of American institutions and citizens to meddle in our election. Trump also did little in the way of detailing his economic policy or any policy outside of building a big wall.
Instead, Trump continued to deal in generalities and gibberish before moving on to flat-out conspiracies. Say, when he accused the Clinton campaign of coordinating with the media to compel nine women to accuse him of sexual assault. This man thinks like an alternate on Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine.
What will stick out most about this final debate is Trump being asked if he will accept the results of the election and answering, “I'll keep you in suspense.” This man acts like he’s up against Kenya Moore at a Real Housewives reunion, doing what it takes to secure a peach for the next season. Meanwhile, it’s interesting now we can talk about rigged elections – which is not a thing in America – yet forgo having the candidate address voter disenfranchisement efforts actually happening across the country.
That was glossed over, as were other issues related to race and racism, gay rights, and student loan debt (which matters far more than national debt and convos centered around entitlements). Moreover, it’s over 80 degrees in New York City in late October and climate change didn't come up at all.
Somehow, this was still the most substantive debate. I imagine many kudos for that will go to Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who served as moderator. Yes, Wallace managed to at times, push Trump to answer a question. He was far better than some of us expected, but there was something off-putting about some of his dubious framing of certain questions tied to fiscal issues. You cannot preface a question tied to President Obama’s stimulus package by claiming it slowed growth when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.
That said, there’s only so much talk about policy you can have with a candidate like Trump, but Wallace tried very hard. But ad hominem still won in the end, as near the conclusion of this insult to intelligence, sacrifice, and preparation, Trump referred to Clinton as “such a nasty woman.” Clinton didn't flinch. Though if I were HRC, I would be asking my staff to reach out to Janet Jackson about using her music for an ad.
Immediately after the debate, MSNBC analyst Steve Schmidt said about Trump: “He was like an old man in the park feeding squirrels, arguing with himself.”
In defense of the old man feeding the squirrels, at least he comes ready for what he plans to do at the park. I’m glad this was the final debate, because none of us deserve to watch mediocrity get this far. Say what you will about Hillary Clinton, but she’s smart, and more importantly, spent her entire life working for this moment. The only person now barely standing in her way is a clown whose only claim to political fame is riding the wave of bigotry.
Trump is silly. Trump is hateful. Trump sniffs too much. But thankfully, Trump has as likely a shot of becoming the 45th president of these United States as I do becoming christened Miss Ku Klux Klan. Speaking of White things, let me end this by noting HRC looked good in her cocaine white suit. She looked ready to slay both the debate and the Frankie Beverly and Maze concert.