[Click above to embiggen: the First Presidential Debate, available to watch on the YouTubes via the Internets on your computer.]
For those of you who can’t get enough of the First Presidential Debate, you can watch it on the YouTubes for yourself. I also wrote a live thought stream of what I observed as it originally aired, which you can find here. It’s an hour or so now after the debate ended and I thought I would take the time here to circle back and highlight some of what I believed was most important from tonight’s event.
Here are the Top Ten Takeaways from the Hofstra University Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump debate on 9/26/16:
10. What the Hell is wrong with Republicans that they allow known Media figures (aka, Democrat operatives) to moderate these debates? I ask this every four years…and feel like I will have to keep asking it every four years for the rest of my life. It’s similar to how I keep asking why the Hell we allow the Iowa Caucus to be first every time and wield such disproportionate influence over the nominating process…or why we even allow the ridiculous caucuses to exist in the first place and we don’t mandate secret ballot primaries for all elections. It’s things like this that make the conspiracy theorists amongst us believe that the deck really is stacked and some globalist overlord like George Soros really does dictate how we all must live…and that our elections are all just a fraud and facade. I really don’t understand why Republicans go along with all the things they go along with. It makes me wistfully miss the days when I used to be a Democrat, because it sucks being on the side of people who are so stupid that they refuse to stop doing things that help their opponents. Sometimes, being a Republican since 2008, I feel like I’m best friends with Lindsay Lohan: I see all the things she needs to stop doing — or at least seriously address — but nothing I say or do can ever get her to stop doing these things. It’s like being in an especially cruel and inventive corner of Hades, with the Cassandra-like eternal damnation of having to watch people repeat the same destructive mistakes forever…with them refusing to change and becoming instantly amnesiac soon after the same recurring problems befall them over and over and over again. Forever.
For the life of me, I will never understand why known Media figures like Lester Holt are allowed to moderate these presidential debates. This is no fault against Holt per se — who behaved himself better than Candy Crowley did, but more on Holt later — but rather my astonishment that Republicans keep allowing Democrat operatives to play Lucy to their Charlie Brown and consistently snatch the football away. Why are big-name Media stars used when someone completely unknown (but experienced and proven to be neutral) could handle being a debate moderator much better?
It’s not like the big name Media people are needed to draw ratings. No one is tuning in to a presidential debate to see Lester Holt. Those eyeballs are there to see the candidates (and hope for fireworks). I think the debate moderators should be completely unknown individuals. They should be used once and only once and someone else should be chosen the next time. These people should be professionals of some sort, but with a neutral bias and a need to maintain their professional credentials. Maybe they are attorneys, administrative judges, or arbitration moderators. I would look for this type of person: someone who is used to the pressure of being in a high-stakes environment and who has a lot of practice with combative parties and who is skilled at adhering to rules and enforcing rules in a professional way. I would hope that someone like that would not want to look foolish on television and would, thus, behave in a dignified and professional way while moderating a presidential debate.
The problem with consistently using big Media stars is that these people are entertainers in a sense: they have their fans and their niche audiences and they play to that. Lester Holt came into moderating this debate with admonitions from the Left about not letting Trump get away with anything and instructions from fellow Hillary supporters to go easy on her…and Holt played to that. He knows where his bread is buttered and who does his buttering. Having a totally unknown person fill the role of moderator would remove all of this. I wouldn’t even allow the person to be known before the debate started. The moderator is irrelevant anyway. Why not publish the questions in advance so there are no “Gotcha!” nonsense moments? It really should be the two candidates squaring off, with each one responsible for making their cases for their own candidacies.
Really, these debates should just have an administrative time-keeper and someone to gently step in to tee up the next topic of conversation between the two candidates. In that sense, it should function like two opposing attorneys in a courtroom delivering closing remarks to a jury, with a judge just sitting up there presiding over the order of the proceedings but not fact-checking anyone or rigging things one way or another.
9. Trump didn’t go for Hillary’s throat or ask her about any of her major lies…does someone tell Republican candidates to not go for the throat? This to me is like Mittens Romney back in 2012 not going after Obama over Benghazi or John McCain not doing anything memorable during his own debates in 2008. I feel like someone takes the Republican candidate aside and tells that person not to hit the Democrat too hard…or else. Were all of Trump’s kids accounted for tonight? Was anyone missing and being held captive somewhere as insurance that Trump wouldn’t go for Hillary’s throat? What else explains no questions to her about Benghazi, her many strange lies about her emails, her odd relationship with Saudi Arabian operative Huma Abedin, her bizarre health problems, etc. I feel that Trump has GOP consultants (who are best known for losing, not winning, elections) in his ear telling him not to do this and not to do that. But, this is why Republicans lose elections. The people watching want a good show. They want to hear hard-hitting questions being asked and see politicians be truly grilled.
I think that Trump was cautioned to not become another Rick Lazio. Remember him? He was the strange little man who went up against Hillary in her first run for the Senate. That race was competitive until he came at her with some weird piece of paper, giving her the chance to make a concerned and shocked face at him that implied she was afraid for her physical safety. Lazio was toast after that and Hillary comfortably sailed to victory. Every few years, Lazio threatens to run for something else again and people pretty much beg him not to and remind him that he’s terrible. He is a lawyer at some firm that few people have ever heard of and will go to his grave being “That Guy Who Was a Jerk in the Debate With Hillary Sixteen Years Ago.” Even I had to look his name up. I thought it was Lasko at first.
Was Trump told not to be a new Lazio/Lasko/Whatever? I really hope that Donald Trump is not listening to GOP consultants. To me, that is like taking sportsball advice from the Washington Generals. Why take advice from the people who couldn’t win to save their lives?
8. Hillary’s lying was really good tonight and she controlled most of her strange face-making. I really wish that Hillary would come clean about her health because I am fascinated by how her behavior changes from day to day…and I am curious about how she is able to function really well somedays while on others she’s losing her shoe and falling down and having other strange episodes. It’s almost like there is some serum she takes, but is only allowed to have it once in a while…or it’s withheld by George Soros or someone as a punishment when she doesn’t do what they want. But she’s given this elixir on occasions when she needs to perform well. My ex-boyfriend Justin’s mother CarolAnne believes that there are several Hillary Clintons out there, like how apparently Saddam Hussein had multiple body-doubles or The Joker in the Batman comics was really three different people the whole time (but Batman, supposedly the world’s best detective, was too stupid to ever figure that out). There is the version of Hillary who performs well and doesn’t have weird episodes. That’s the version of her that I remember from the 2008 campaign…and the only one who existed prior to 2012 or so. Lately, there are other versions of her who fall down a lot, need to have people carrying her into vans, and who Justin’s mom believes is a body double or imposter. There are people like CarolAnne who animatedly talk for hours — HOURS — about how the Hillary Clinton who fell down at the 9/11 commemoration in New York is not the same “Hillary” who left Chelsea’s apartment later that day. Like a scene out of the movie Dave, these people truly believe that the “Hillarys” were switched that afternoon…and an imposter pretended to be her later in the day, after the visit to Chelsea’s apartment (because, of course, when you have a serious medical problem you don’t go to a hospital but instead you go to your daughter’s house).
The fact that sane people can authentically have conversations like this, involving body doubles and impersonators, shows that Hillary Clinton has had some bizarre image issues in the last few years. These are things she never had problems with in 2008…and the problems don’t seem to afflict her every day. Only on some days. I have no idea what is going on with her but it concerns me. And I wish more than anything that someone who is close to her and loves her as a person would make sure she is okay and would get her help. Because something is wrong and there is obviously medicine that can help her, but for some reason she is not allowed to take that medicine every day.
Is there a medicine you can’t take every day but can only take once in a while…so they time it for when she really has to be on-point? What the hell kind of magic medicine is that?
7. I still feel like I am in an alternate universe or some kind of weird tee-vee show where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are really running for president against each other…and this is normal…and it’s really happening. There’s a scene in the first Back to the Future movie where Doc Brown asks Marty (the time traveler) about life thirty years in the future…and Marty tells him about Ronald Reagan being president in 1985. Back in 1955, Doc Brown laughed…because Reagan was still an actor then and had not entered politics. We live in such a strange world now. Al Franken, who is a man that dressed up in a diaper and rolled around on the floor in a tee-vee skit, is a re-elected United States Senator. We still know almost nothing about Barack Obama, his past, his true parentage (is he really Frank Marshall’s son?), etc. So many bizarre things happen and our Media doesn’t ever care and actively seems to cover it all up or ignore the stories that are bad for Democrats politically. All of this is commonplace now. It is beyond surreal. I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both running for president, and that one of them will be the President-Elect in 41 days. That’s mind-blowing. The other weird thing about all this is that Rosie O’Donnell keeps coming up in conversations about a presidential race. Specifically, talk of Rosie O’Donnell being a pig and a slob keeps coming up in a presidential race. People are being asked how they feel about Rosie O’Donnell being a pig and a slob. That is so bizarre. I think it’s hilarious, but it’s still really bizarre.
6. Trump really is nice to listen to and he makes a good case that politicians have screwed everything up and we need someone who is good at business to go at these bad trade deals. There is such a disconnect between the elite in the Establishment and regular people and I think that cognitive gulf is most apparent when you look into how people feel about jobs and the economy. The Media keeps lying for Democrats that we are in a recovery and things are just fine (and getting even better!), but things are not fine and it’s so obvious to anyone who cares to look. Here in Chicago, there are so many empty, vacant storefronts everywhere you look that it feels like the 1970s. Some of these places have been abandoned for years. When I first moved here in 2005, it wasn’t like this. Here and there, condo towers are being built again on lots that were stalled in 2008…so condos are going up and real estate seems to be doing well, but those storefronts are still abandoned. Restaurants seem to go out of business left and right and even gay bars close down now, which never happened before. Gay bars are like gold mines…but even gay guys ran out of money and can’t afford to go drinking all the time. On top of all this, wave after wave of Spanish-speakers keep flooding the city, taking jobs at the bottom of the ladder that used to go to blacks and other unskilled workers. It’s a complete and total powder keg and everyone sees it. There’s more crime than ever and crime is actually infecting parts of town that were safe five or ten years ago. Trump talked about how far Chicago has fallen in recent years and how nothing was done to improve life in Obama’s supposed hometown in the last eight years. He also drilled home how bad NAFTA was and how American jobs keep getting sent to Mexico or other countries because of bad trade deals. I wish he would have done a better job of tying this all together and showing how the Establishment’s push to bring in cheap foreign labor leads to the destruction of our cities and all the other problems that we know are happening…that neither Democrats nor Republicans want to talk about. Lester Holt kept interrupting him though, so these points could never gel.
5. Trump got to talk a little about how Democrats use and then discard blacks and forget about them when the elections are over but Lester Holt jumped in and cut him off. I hope Trump noticed that happened. Because it means that Democrats really don’t want Trump talking about this clear and obvious fact. Trump needs to talk over and over again about how blacks keep voting Democrat but Democrats never keep their promises…so what do blacks have to lose by trying something new? What do blacks have to lose by pushing back against that endless flood of cheap foreign labor that takes jobs away from black people?
4. No one mentioned the Orlando gay bar massacre by a Muslim in June. This really ticked me off. It was a lost opportunity for Trump. Again, I think some GOP consultant told him not to go there…but he should have gone at Hillary hard about Democrats wanting to bring in more Muslims when Muslims kill gay people and subjugate women. He should have punched hard on this and he should have pointed to the Orlando massacre by a Muslim. Why didn’t he take that punch? That’s a great punch to take. As a gay man, I am furious that the Establishment wants to import Islamic colonists into this country, people who believe that gays should be killed and women should be treated like dogs. It is absolute insanity to aggressively import into a country hordes of colonists who want to overthrow the secular government of that country and transform it into a colony of the backwards, homophobic, hellhole they left. I am sick of politicians pussyfooting around this brutal fact. I wish Trump had punched hard with this.
3. Hillary Clinton lost her cool a little bit, but not as much as Trump wanted her to. A few times, Trump was able to get Hillary’s goat a little bit. She was peeved a few times and he riled her up enough so that she said some snarky things. One of the reasons I’ve always liked her is that she is snarky like that, but I don’t think it plays well with most people. I will always like this woman on a personal level because personally she’s a very nice person. You might not like hearing that, but it’s true. Justin’s family enjoys talking about some Secret Service book where a disgruntled former agent likes to say that Hillary is horrible and called the agents pigs and all that — and maybe that’s true — but I saw her up close so many times in 2008 when she was living her absolute nightmare from Hell (losing the nomination that she felt was hers, seeing it snatched away by Obama) and she was always nice to people that she didn’t have to be nice to. Backstage, behind the scenes, in days before everyone had a cellphone that could take video and upload right to the YouTubes. She was polite and nice and funny and kind to people like me who were nobodies, who she could have been rude to and gotten away with it. But she was always nice. I think she loses her cool and gets snarky when pushed, because the truth is that she’s a sarcastic person and she likes to joke and hurl barbs. She’s learned through the years that she needs to watch that, because people pounce on everything she says and does. At points tonight, she showed some resentment about that…where she’d sort of roll her eyes and imply that Trump was blaming her for all sorts of things she shouldn’t be blamed for. I think she was very effective in deflecting Trump’s arguments in those moments. Her base, especially, will think she acquitted herself really well. People who don’t like her much will have to admit she held her own. I think she was as good tonight as she ever was in any debate in 2008 and that the weird robotic thing she does most of the time went away in moments where the real personality came through…and that real personality is the sharp, quick-witted, sarcastic woman who got in some zingers.
2. Lester Holt made an ass of himself. I like Lester Holt. He seems like a very nice man. I immensely enjoy that Brian Williams destroyed himself and Holt was able to take over at NBC. So I don’t know why Holt felt compelled to make such an ass of himself this evening. One exchange in particular was so strange, but Holt would just not stop. This was about Holt wanting to make a case that Trump supported the War in Iraq back in 2002. That’s such a strange thing to fixate on to begin with because Trump was not an elected official in 2002. Hillary Clinton was, but Holt never asked strange questions like this of her. Trump wanted to argue about what Trump thought of the war 14 years ago…and Trump told Holt that Sean Hannity would back up his statement that he thought the war was a destructive folly. Holt wanted to play gotcha and it blew up in his face. Trump is really good at arguing with people. He is fast and even when he’s arguing he’s still likable. He’s a boss. He rolled right over Holt. All through the night he did that, though. Holt would try to admonish Trump and Trump would bulldoze right over him. It was a lot of fun to watch, actually. I have no idea why Holt signed up to moderate, especially when he had to have known that he’d be ordered by the Left to throw the debate to Hillary, which Holt tried to do. There’s no way in hell that I would have agreed to moderate something like this if I was a big name news guy. There was no plus side to doing this.
1. This debate was unlike any debate in my lifetime. It was memorable. It was exciting. There was never a dull moment. I think that Trump and Hillary are both great debaters, though Trump is better on camera and also speaks more easily. Hillary goes into robot mode a lot of the time, though she’s great when she lets her true sarcastic self poke through. For the first time in my life, a candidate (Trump) really called out the other side’s lies and beat home that the opponent was a liar. That was really refreshing. Wimpy Mittens Romney and meek John McCain never did that. Trump showed a lot of testosterone, which I thought was great. We’ve had enough of the mamby-pampy mayonnaise milquetoast Republicans. Those guys had their turns losing the last two elections. It’s fun seeing something else be tried. It was also so weird to hear Hillary Clinton so aggressively lob the word racism all over the place and accusing people of being racists. She’s really doubling-down on Black Lives Matter in a bid to whip up support with Millennials and blacks who love that grievance mongering. That’s an interesting strategy for her. She’s really focusing on trying to win urban areas and saying to hell with everyone else in flyover country. Remember that James Carville wrote a book a few years ago where he argued that politics is pretty much over and that Democrats will just win every election because they’ve succeeded in importing enough Spanish-speakers who’ll vote Democrat forever that white people in flyover country no longer matter. That book argued that since Democrats control the cities and that Spanish-speakers are being imported all over rural areas by the big corporations that want the cheap labor for agriculture and meatpacking facilities, Republicans can never win another election so nothing Democrats do matters. Carville, and people like him, think that there’s no way that Hillary can lose. In this first debate, Hillary really seemed to behave like she believes that herself. I don’t think she was trying to win any votes or change any minds or persuade anyone…she was just trying to keep those urban core areas from defecting from her. She’s really afraid of blacks not turning out for her in a big way. Hence, her frequent shout of racism.
I wonder how many people that turned off. I also wonder how many men felt she came across like the sound of their ex-wives and how many people who still hate her because she never divorced her husband are out there. Because back in 2008 there were a lot of those people and they are why she didn’t win the Iowa Caucus. She really had a hard time in Iowa and people really don’t like her there. Shouting about racism sure doesn’t seem like it will win any of those people over.
But, maybe this election is not going to be about anyone winning anyone over. I really hope it continues to be about calling out the lies that the Media tells and busting all the liars, asking the questions that the Establishment never wants to be asked, and just breaking all the rules that the GOP enacted over time that keep allowing Democrats to win over and over again without much of a fight.
I’m curious if all the people who stayed home in 2008 and 2012 because they couldn’t stand leaving the house to vote for wimps like McCain and Romney will feel fired up to vote for Trump, since Trump’s the polar opposite of a milquetoast McCain/Romney style of candidate. In 41 days, we’ll know if those people show up…and if they don’t then James Carville really is right and there’s nothing that could have ever gotten those people off the couch.
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