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Monday, October 10, 2016


The Sunday night debate was about as unpleasant an event as you could imagine as the finale of a weekend which began Friday with the release of a video of Donald Trump’s unfortunate exchange with Billy Bush.  For those who either feel they must or actually enjoy the wallowing, it didn’t get better – it actually got more depressing.

Although Trump appeared less out of control than he had in the first debate, he was just as vague and seemed still mostly uninformed about foreign policy, and although Hillary did not go into his financial status, the ploy which had him dancing on a string last time, she bagged him with a number of outright, easily provable lies which, if anyone still cares about the truth, ought to blister him.

First, though, the “apology” for the obscene commentary on the Bush video.  He doesn’t really say those things, he doesn’t mean them, he didn’t really do the things he said he did on that tape, he regrets saying them.  Well, I guess I would regret it too.  That out of the way, he pointed out the unhappy trio of Bill Clinton’s rape victims plus one more for good measure, who was allegedly raped by a legal client of Mrs. Clinton’s.  Once they were “introduced” they were quickly forgotten, much to everyone’s relief who has had enough of this for one weekend.  It was about the dumbest thing he could have done if what he wanted was to get past the video.  Instead of a simple and heartfelt (but is this possible with Trump?) “I was wrong, I was just ‘bragging’ and would not do those things, it was very offensive and I am very sorry.  I especially apologize to my wonderful wife and my children,” he pointed to these victims and tried to say, “See, I’m no worse than Bill Clinton.”  He had threatened to bring these women out for the last debate, probably anticipating something like this video coming out, but holding them back until it actually did come out.  The effect was to say that “I am a rapist – so what?  So was Bill Clinton.”  Which hardly dispels the ugly image of Trump – which ought to have been the objective.  Hillary did not visibly react to this, which looked like no more than at best a wash for Trump, and at worst, a move that put him in the same category with Bill Clinton, which would be a step away from improvement.  One of Trump’s first lies of the evening was to deny that he had forced himself on women.  That is out there waiting for some rebuttal and Democrats are sure to find it.

The first “real” question was on Obamacare, with Hillary admitting that it needed a lot of work but that repealing it without some kind of safety net would leave a lot of people in trouble, she pointed out the “good” things she would keep, which probably reassured those who want to depend on government.  Trump lied openly.  He claimed he was for a free market kind of system, taking the “lines” around the states away and putting insurance on a competitive basis.  While this sounds like the good old days, and might have given the conservatives some thin thread of hope, it was a lie – at least if we are to believe his position of primary season, where he favors a single-payer, universal  Scottish system, which is the polar opposite of what he outlined in this debate.  Will the real Donald Trump please stand up?  Hillary could have cashed in on this if she were really at the top of her game.  She didn’t.

The question of Russian expansion in Syria brought out probably the worst moment of the night for Trump.  He said he favors working with the Russians to defeat ISIS in Syria.  When Anderson Cooper asked him about the position stated by his running mate Mike Pence, which called for stiff American resistance to Russian expansionism in that region, Trump baldly said he disagreed.  “We haven’t discussed this.”  Which made him look pretty disorganized about a very important matter while also jerking the rug out from under Pence, who has been urged by many to leave the ticket in the wake of the video.  It is known that Pence’s wife is furious over the video and Pence is about all that is left of respectability on this ticket in the eyes of many Republican leaders.  The polls might have a lot to do with whether Pence remains.  He has compromised his future either way now.

Hillary charged that Russia was interfering with the American election and mentioned Trump’s ties – which he denied.  He said he has no Russian investors or loans or money.  This, too, is a lie, and one easily shown in his many dealings there.  His sons have made numerous trips there over the past year, he was paid $14 million by a consortium of Russian oligarchs to bring his pageant to Moscow and he has reputedly signed documents to begin construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow.  He also brought Paul Manafort, one of Putin’s insiders, into his campaign, and tinkered with only one plank of the Republican platform – that which would have assisted Ukraine in resisting Russian aggression in that country.  He has deep ties with Russia, which might help to explain his reluctance to release his tax forms, of which, of course, Hillary reminded us.

At some point, Trump threatened Hillary with jail.  He will see her in jail if he is elected.  As tempting as this might sound to the rabble who support him, we do still have a justice system and a Constitution.  He’s not Putin – yet, anyway.  This remark was really over the top, but probably will play well to the masses.

On energy, they both lied.  Trump has said he is a believer in global manmade climate change.  He can’t really escape that.  But he tried to nail Hillary on shutting down our energy and heavy industries – like steel.  Hillary was obviously expecting this one and obliterated him on it by a scathing observation that he bought Chinese – not American – steel for his projects.  Her happy picture of America becoming the “clean energy leader of the 21st Century” of course sounds great, and she slicked over her intentions to shut down coal, gliding quickly to a statement that she believes we need to be “energy independent” – which to any informed listener was an oxymoron.  But she didn’t lose her base on this.

On the Supreme Court issue, Trump was hollow again, promising to nominate someone “like Scalia”, who would honor the 2nd Amendment.  He has been working against so many conservatives in Congressional races directly as well as by simply being an albatross on the ticket, that only a miracle would have enough support in the Senate left to confirm anyone he picked.  He is oblivious to this problem, probably because he is not informed as to the process of Supreme Court appointments.  He has been bragging about taking down candidates he doesn’t like.  So some who are aware will find this less than reassuring.  Hillary, of course, stood by Roe v. Wade and promises more of the same in her choices for nominees.  While this discomfits conservatives, it is certainly no surprise and it fits her own base very, very well.  They’ll cheer this. 

Hillary came off looking fairly fit, considering the rumors of her health issues, Trump is still sniffing with every sentence and lumbered about like people you know in a bar who stand much too close to you when they’ve had a couple.  Neither looked like a fashion plate nor a superstar.  Glamour wasn’t on the menu.  Martha Raddatz got into a few skirmishes with Trump, he complaining about time allotment and she trying to argue with him on his statements.  The whole evening was depressing and unpleasant, and although Trump will declare victory, and the usual online polls came to his assistance, if I were rating it I would give her 4 out of 10 and him 1.5 or 2 out of 10, and that mainly for just not coming apart at the seams on national television.  It was lackluster on both parts, but Trump’s lies are ticking time bombs, his cheap ploy of parading rape victims was tasteless and only brought him into the same class as Bill Clinton; rather than washing way the horrible taste of the video it brought it all back in 3D form and we got to relive those episodes as well, which did less to harm Hillary than it did to harm Trump.  His threat to jail Hillary upon his taking office was chilling, even if we might want her there.   We don’t just “jail” people.  His constant interrupting was beyond annoying to viewers. 

In short, it was lies, evasions and more venom on Sunday night.  What this week will bring is anyone’s guess or nightmare. 


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