Friday, October 21, 2016

Presidential Debate #3

One Tough Hombre

The third and final Presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton proved to be the best of the series in that it featured the most substantial discussion of significant issues so far. Chris Wallace from Fox News moderated the debate, chose the questions and issues, and did a workmanlike job of keeping both candidates to the issues. The result provided a clear delineation of the contrasting views of the candidates on issues like the Supreme Court, the economy, immigration, abortion, foreign policy, Social Security reform, college education, and even the qualifications (fitness) for the Presidency.

As I watched the debate I could not help but think that Trump was doing a very good job on the issues. I had given him a “C” in the first debate, a “C+” in the second but I believe he earned a “B” this time. Hillary Clinton gave her usual “C” performance. She was adequate but often her words seemed canned. She certainly lacked the emotion and conviction that Trump demonstrated.

I suppose I am as biased as anyone but the post-debate expert commentary convinced me that I was correct in believing that Trump had “won” the debate. I first watched the PBS commentary with a panel made up completely of liberals who predictably criticized Trump. It would appear that PBS is not an equal opportunity employer when it comes to political persuasion. Nevertheless, long-time Democratic political pundit Mark Shields had to admit that if Trump had given this performance in the first debate, it would be a different race now.

I then switched to CNN where the panel was more diverse in that there were two Trump supporters to six Clinton advocates. They all saw the debate through their own politically tainted glasses and it seemed, as one noted, that they watched different debates. I got the impression that during the actual debate they were so busy fact-checking or following Twitter, that they often did not pay real attention to what the candidates actually said.

As a result, the CNN panel did not deal with any of the issues discussed in the debate but chose to concentrate on three remarks made by Trump that would immediately go viral on the web. To me this was a tacit admission that Trump had won the debate. In the first place, the fact that the liberal panelists steered the discussion away from the issues was a sign that Trump had done well there. Secondly, nothing that Clinton said in the debate was memorable or even worth discussing. The post-debate was all about Trump.

The liberals on the panel were shocked that Trump had declined to say if he would support the outcome of the election; that he called Clinton “a nasty woman”; and that he used the word “hombre” in describing Mexican aliens who had committed criminal acts in this country. I will discuss the issues in separate posts but would just like to deal with these three remarks for now.

Trump’s first remark came after the moderator had asked him about his claims that the election might be “rigged.” Trump gave a decent answer to that question. He pointed to the overwhelming bias against him in the media. He pointed to a veritable media blackout of news that the Democrat campaign is creating and promoting violent demonstrations at Trump rallies. He also expressed concern about fraudulent voting at the ballot box on election day. He claimed that there are four million dead voters who are still listed as registered voters in the country, and that they often somehow manage to cast votes.

Wallace pressed him and asked directly if he would support the outcome of the election. Trump responded that he would keep “you in suspense” on that question. While viewing, I saw nothing unreasonable in his response which was laced with some humor. If you believe your opponents are capable of “dirty tricks” and vote tampering, why not keep your options open. I live next to Bridgeport, Connecticut where election irregularities are the norm in the Democrat controlled city. Of course, recent leaked Democrat National committee emails show that Trump was correct when he claimed that the Democrat primary campaign of Bernie Sanders was rigged by the Clinton machine.

But the liberal commentators on CNN were shocked by Trump’s remarks and believed that he was threatening civil war in the event he lost the election. Some have even claimed that Trump’s remark was unprecedented in American history, overlooking the furor aroused in 2000 in the hotly contested Bush/Gore election.

The liberal commentators were also “shocked” that Trump had called Clinton “a nasty woman” at one point in the debate. That remark occurred while Clinton was discussing a very serious question from Wallace about what she would do to keep the Social Security system from going bankrupt. She claimed that she would never reduce SS benefits but would have to increase Social Security taxes to cover the expected deficit. At this point she interrupted herself to say that Trump might even have to pay the increased tax. This was a gratuitous remark and Trump leaned forward into his mike and said “she’s a nasty woman.” Actually, I would have characterized her remark as “bitchy” rather than nasty. Nevertheless, commentators jumped on his remark even though everyone in the country knows that Clinton is a nasty woman.

Trump’s final offensive remark came in the immigration debate. Trump made some telling points during this discussion. He pointed out that the Obama administration has quietly deported millions of illegal immigrants. He also pointed out that when she served in the Senate in 2006, Clinton had called for the building of a wall along our border with Mexico. None of the commentators called Obama or Clinton racist.

Finally, the commentators were again “shocked” when in calling for the deportation of Mexican aliens who had committed heinous crimes in the US, Trump called them “bad hombres.” The Latina commentator on the panel was especially offended by Trump’s use of the word that is commonly employed in movies and sports to designate a tough man.

Rather than hurting Trump, I believe his performance in the debate will help him in the election. Early polls after the debate would seem to indicate that he has rebounded. We’ll just have to wait and see.


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