The expected fireworks over the Trump video faded after a few jabs. The front row of Bill Clinton’s rape victims Trump paraded have now been pawns for both sides. They were forgotten within minutes as well.
The “serious” questions began with Obamacare, Trump calling for eliminating “lines” around states, putting the insurance industry on the free market system, Hillary for “keeping what is good” in Obamacare, and not, so to speak, ripping the bandage off without something to substitute.
She ticked off the talking points for Obamacare, while admitting that it needs work. We’ve heard it before, no news here. But Trump lied outright about his position on healthcare. He has advocated strongly for single-payer universal healthcare – which is completely at odds with “competition” of any kind. He actually is on record recently favoring the system of Scotland – entirely out of the realm of the “free market” system.
The lies continued as Hillary baited him into stating unequivocally that he has no Russian loans, no Russian money. This is not really true. Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov and others paid him $14 million to bring his “Miss Universe” pageant to Moscow. No one believes Trump went to Moscow for nothing. They also signed an agreement for Trump to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, a dream of his for over two decades. Add to this his close ties to Putin through Paul Manafort, and there is little doubt about his interest in Russia, and this puts his international political position in perspective. Meanwhile, Hillary asserted that Russia is working to help elect Trump. Oh – and he is still adamant in refusing to release his income tax returns. Surprised?
In his answer to a question presented by Anderson Cooper, Trump may have burned his most important bridge. Cooper reiterated a position outlined by Mike Pence in the Vice Presidential debate which called for the United States to contain Russian expansion by confronting it with a firm resolve. Trump jerked the rug out from under Pence. “I disagree. We haven’t discussed it.” Perhaps this is true, but to cut Pence down at a time when Pence’s presence on the ticket is the fragile connection remaining between Trump and the party leadership might have been enough to push Pence to take the advice of the many who are advising him to leave the ticket. I guess Pence should have considered Trump’s Russian preference.
The back-and-forth saw Trump asking why Hillary wasn’t funding her own campaign, Hillary apologizing for her “deplorables” comment.
The Supreme Court issue might have been convincing to conservatives, where Hillary stood firmly with Roe v. Wade and will obviously nominate more liberals to the bench, but Trump’s promise to pick someone “like Scalia” who respects the 2nd Amendment rings hollow inasmuch as he is promising those Congressional candidates he doesn’t like that they won’t do well in the election. This also means he won’t do well in getting a nominee confirmed if he does come up with an acceptable name. Those aware of the function and Constitutional structure will find Trump less convincing on this. And of course, there is no point in Hillary courting a conservative vote in any case.
Toward the end of the evening the question of energy arose. Trump might have looked good on this one, arguing that we need energy independence and need to develop coal, and that the Chinese are getting the march on us with steel production. Then Hillary dropped the hammer on him for buying Chinese steel – not American steel – for his projects. Her pretty picture of becoming the “clean energy” leader of the 21st Century should fall flat with those who know of her propensity to shut down coal, but nevertheless she pressed on with bright happytalk about energy independence. It was a pile of steaming manure, but she won’t have lost any of her base over it.
It was, all in all, a contentious, unpleasant and unproductive evening. Hillary probably reinforced support she already had while baiting Trump into several bold-faced lies that will soon be proven, and Trump managed to alienate Mike Pence.
I can’t read minds. I can’t fathom the thoughts of either pundits or voters. But for my money, I’d say they both looked like the hypocrites they are. Hillary looked reasonably healthy, considering, so no lost points there. And although it was obvious that Trump had spent some time cramming for this with some experts, he still behaved like “Interrupting Cow” and exhibited the usual rude demeanor to which we have become accustomed.
If pressed, I would say that on a scale of 1–10, based on performance, not politics, I’d give Hillary a 4 for a mainly unremarkable performance, and Trump a 1.5. His score might have been higher if there weren’t a couple of time bombs in his performance waiting to explode – like the obvious lies he told, his still secret income taxes and the rift he has created with Pence, who is vital to the next 30 days of this wretched campaign. A pox on both their houses, I say.