Before Monday night’s debate I told my wife that I didn’t think that Trump had to win the debate. He just had to show that he could hold his own on the same stage with a candidate with much more political experience.
It is hard to judge who won the debate since bias will always enter into one’s evaluation. This bias was certainly evident in watching the spin doctors and commentators offer their own analysis. From my viewpoint I do not believe that there was a clear winner. There was nothing like the first Obama/Romney debate four years ago when even the President’s advisors had to admit that he had taken a beating.
If I was grading the performance of both candidates, I would give both of them a “C”. I give Clinton a passing grade because she largely handled herself well and seemed knowledgeable in her responses. She made no major gaffes. Actually, I would have to say that Clinton was at the top of her game but, in my opinion, that is a high as she will go. She does not have an “A” game. Even one of the commentators at PBS had to sadly admit that Clinton did not inspire. She exhibited no passion, emotion, or vision. In the debates to come I don’t believe that she will be able to rise above the pedestrian politician we saw last night.
On the other hand, Trump was full of fire, emotion, and a sense of purpose. I give him a “C” not just because of a couple of embarrassing answers, but because he missed a number of opportunities to drive his message home.
On taxes, he could have given a two-minute lesson on how lowering the corporate income tax will do more than just keep American companies home, and bring massive overseas earnings home. Lowering the corporate income tax has the potential to reduce the cost of goods to the American consumer. Corporations do not really pay taxes. All corporate expenses, including taxes, must be included in the cost of goods and services sold to the consumer. How could a company afford, for example, the huge cost of a Super Bowl ad if it didn’t pass the cost along to the consumer.
When it came to his own tax returns, Trump could have explained that it is not un-American to minimize your tax burden. He could have pointed to the well-to-do Massachusetts liberals who have chosen to migrate to next door New Hampshire where there is no state income tax. He could have pointed to six figure pension recipients who have left Connecticut to relocate to Florida where there is no state income tax.
More tellingly, he could have asked why there is a Clinton foundation, a Gates foundation, or a Buffett foundation. Why did these wealthy people choose to funnel massive sums into these foundations where they would be free of Federal Income and Estate taxes? Is it possible that these individuals thought they could achieve more than the Federal government could?
I also thought that Trump could have done a better job of wondering why Clinton thinks that there is so much that needs to be done to fix this country. President Obama has been in office for almost eight years. Why didn’t he accomplish all that Clinton and the Democrat platform now advocate? Sometimes, Clinton seems to be running against President Obama.
Trump could also have done a better job on foreign policy. His best line of the night was almost a throwaway. He noted that Clinton has experience but it is bad experience. He allowed himself to get sidetracked on his opposition to the Iraq war, and let Clinton largely off the hook on the disastrous results of the Arab Spring that has led to chaos in Libya, Syria, and Egypt. He even let her off the hook on Benghazi. Why did she participate in the Administration's YouTube video scam?
Finally, I think that both candidates missed the boat on the last question that went something like, “If you lose the election, will you support the President?” Why didn’t either have the wisdom to mention that there has always been room for a “loyal opposition” in America. I know that there are times when we must stand united behind the President but I would have liked a candidate to say that they would continue to fight for the cause they represent no matter what the result of the election.