For most Americans, tonight’s debate was the most time they’ve ever spent with Donald Trump. With any luck, it filled them with horror.
For sheer unhinged lunacy, Trump was hard to beat. He can’t ever admit that he makes a mistake, so he doubled down on his birtherism lies. He denied saying things he was proven to have said, including about climate change and the Iraq War. He interrupted Clinton 25 times in the first 26 minutes of the debate, often by shouting over her. His answers were recognizable as English, although the words were strung together so haphazardly, you’ll have to take our work for it. He even seemed to acknowledge that he hasn’t paid federal income taxes, which is quite an admission for a presidential candidate.
Perhaps worst of all was the gallery of faces that Trump made while Clinton spoke. It was easy to dismiss the pouts, the snarls, and the eye rolls after a while, but if you watched the debate with the sound off, you’d see someone who looked like a ham actor and someone who looked like, well, a president.
Clinton, by contrast, can prepared for the fight, and she quickly got under Trump’s skin. She also played his game against him, by speculating (without any real knowledge) about why Trump won’t release his tax returns. It was a classic Trump gimmick, but delivered in a much more measured, and logical, way.
As the presidential race tightens, the candidates are really fighting for just a handful of voters. Did Trump do himself any favors? Probably not. He’s too scattered to hammer the same message repeatedly and too enamored of himself not to rise to the bait and start yelling at anyone in his path.
Of course, what will matter is how the media play the results. It would be hard to say with a straight face that Trump scored a tie, but in their unending quest for false equivalency, the media could end up saying just that. Besides, a close race is good for the ratings and readership. Trump isn’t the only one who cares about the bottom line.
Photo credit: House of Spam