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Notes on the First Debate


What follows are extemporaneous thoughts on last night’s debate, the first Presidential debate of 2016. God help us all.

Clinton’s ideas for the economy are fairly progressive and make sense and also completely DOA in Congress (unless Dems sweep it, somehow).

Trump claims jobs are fleeing the country when we’re at full employment. Totally true! If he loves China so much, maybe he should move there.

Trump’s expressions as Clinton responds to him are priceless. He just can’t wait to respond as she digs him for being born with a silver spoon in his mouth in contrast to her own more modest upbringing.

It seems he will forever call his father’s multimillion dollar loan “a very small loan.”

Trump utterly refuses to answer questions. This does not surprise me. He just beats on about the same points over and over.

Hey, but here’s a concrete proposal: companies that produce overseas won’t be allowed to send their goods to the US. So that’s the death of the economy right there.

“That’s called business,” Trump says about millions of people losing their jobs. Truly a man of the people.

Clinton just runs right over Trump’s attempts to interrupt. Well-played. It seems to annoy him to no end.

Trump harps on debt as if he understands anything about how sovereign debt works. I wonder which of his policy wonks told him this was a winning point. And of course, he talks about how we need to keep more of our jobs right after saying “that’s called business” about others losing theirs.

Clinton hits back with facts when Trump brings his feels. Clinton talking about increasing American exports is a salient point, as well.

The back and forth about the Trans-Pacific Partnership is absurd. “You have no plan,” Trump has the gall to say.


Clinton: “Fact-checkers, get to work!” Amen.

Trump claims he will magically bring $2 trillion back into the economy by messing with the tax regime. Sure thing, Donny!

I laughed out loud when Clinton said, “Join the debate by saying more crazy things.” Love it. The way she smiles while Trump is attacking her is golden.

Going after Trump for crafting tax loopholes for himself is amazing. He cannot keep his mouth shut when she’s attacking him. He just can’t. His ego is too fragile.

Trump talking about monetary policy as if he knows anything about it is precious.

Trump on refusing to release his tax returns: “I don’t mind releasing.” He promises to release after his “routine audit” is over. Uh huh.

America is being ripped off “by every single country in the world” while we have the biggest economy on Earth. How does that work??

Finally, Lester Holt says the IRS is not forcing him to withhold his returns, but he still refuses to release them while insisting he will do so when he is allowed. So then Trump promises to release his tax returns once Clinton releases her 33,000 deleted emails. This is not reality. This is fantasy.

Clinton is absolutely right: Trump is not as rich as he claims, and pays no income tax, and that’s why he doesn’t want to release his returns. She just kept hitting him and hitting him, eliciting audible sighs from the man himself.

Trump responds to this by bragging about how rich he is. Because of course he would.

I wonder how well all this talk of national debt really plays. Outside of some narrow GOP demographics, nobody really cares about that.

Trump brags about not paying taxes. Pretty wild, right?

Clinton talking about meeting with the various people Trump has screwed over: brilliant. Make him look like a rich jagoff. Admittedly, this isn’t hard since that’s exactly what he is.

Something I wish she’d have said: “If thousands of people did such bad work for you you had to stiff them, how can you say you’re a good businessman? And if they didn’t, why didn’t you pay them? Which is it, Donald?”

Trump takes the opportunity to put out an ad about himself in the middle of the debate, regarding the repurposing of a DC post office on Pennsylvania Avenue. He is a completely shameless self-promoter. And they say Clinton is the one obsessed with herself!

Clinton goes first on the topic of race. Serious, sober, thoughtful, wise. Exactly how she should be. She is clearly not down on police–she walks a fine line. She also brings up that there are police who want to reform the system, as well. By all means, bring it on. Then it’s about guns: a problem that remains unsolved in this country. Trump even nods along to this.

So what’s his response? “Law and order!” The classic racist dogwhistle, of course. Spouts off a lot of nonsense, vague statistics, ranting about immigrants, being “strong” and “vigilant.” Says police are paralyzed with fear. The phrase “a very against-police judge” emits from his mouth. Trump admits he agrees with Clinton on some aspects of this but it’s clear he is very pro-police at the expense of the lives of people of color. It’s disgusting to watch him act as if he cares about them.

Clinton brings facts to the debate: crime actually isn’t as bad as people think it is. It’s down. This is true. We still have work to do but let’s not ignore what has improved. What hasn’t improved is how people of color are treated by police and the justice system. Down on military hardware in the hands of cops, pro-gun control, pro that stupid terrorist watch list idea (Trump nods along, of course).

Clinton is also right on the reality of implicit bias. We are all biased. Ignoring it will not help solve our problems.

Trump’s shout-out to the NRA is truly otherworldly. Trump then comes in to hit Clinton with her “superpredator” remark. Of course, his statistical literacy is sorely lacking.

He can’t help but make a cheap dig about her being sick, either. What a classless buffoon.

On to Birtherism! Holt asks what took Trump so long in coming around to saying Obama is a natural-born American. Trump tells a wandering, incoherent story that randomly involves several reporters and Kenya and then declares he wants to talk about “important” matters. He finally takes credit for getting Obama to show his birth certificate. What an American hero.

“Just listen to what you heard,” Clinton jibes. Ouch! And from there, she doesn’t let up, relating how he “persisted year after year” on the Birther train. It’s at this point that she brings up Trump’s history of racial discrimination in his real estate dealings. I was wondering when that would happen and I was not disappointed! “When they go low, we go high.” Perfect.

Trump is so personally hurt by the ads Clinton runs against him that he feels a special need to bring it up. But he promises there’s no hard feelings!

Clinton discusses cybersecurity, an issue I can never take politicians seriously on given how poorly they understand it. Not that expect Trump to do any better!

Trump on cybersecurity: “I just want you to know I’ve got over 200 endorsements and more are coming.” And, “As far as the cyber, I agree.” And suddenly Trump has no idea who broke into the DNC’s server.

I’m not convinced Trump actually knows what the Internet is. I think Trump is suggesting he’s going to appoint his 10-year-old son as his Cybersecurity Czar.

Trump hammers on that ISIS is the fault of Obama and Clinton. It seems a certain Republican President’s existence is unacknowledged. Trump doubles down on the idea that we should have taken Iraq’s oil, but we didn’t, so now “it’s all over the place.”

Clinton: “I hope the fact-checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard.” Upon mentioning that Trump supported the invasion of Iraq, Trump says “wrong!” repeatedly. This is not a reasonable person.

Highlighting how little Trump values our foreign alliances is a good tack.

“Well, I have to respond!” Trump insists many times throughout the night.

Trump essentially proposes that NATO invade the Middle East to fight ISIS. I’m sure Putin would just love that. He then argues with Holt that he never supported the invasion of Iraq, despite the ample evidence to the contrary.

Trump demonstrates his “great temperament” by tolerating people disagreeing with him.

Clinton soaks up Trump’s rant with a, “Whew! OK!” Awesome. Pointing out how easily Trump is provoked, giving specific examples, is perfect.

I certainly don’t agree with Clinton that nuclear weapons are the greatest threat in the world. That’d be climate change. Clinton’s hwakishness shines through.

On nuclear weapons, Trump first says he does not endorse first-strike, then immediately says he takes nothing off the table. You can’t have it both ways, Donny.

Making full use of his gift for hyperbole, Trump calls the Iran nuclear deal the worst in history.

Clinton is, of course, right that Trump refuses to share his plans because he has none. She also points out quite aptly that the world is watching these campaigns and how the candidates behave.

Trump claims she has no “stamina.” Clinton counters with her travels as Secretary of State and 11 hours being grilled before Congress. Stamina!

Trump says Clinton is “not nice” because she runs mean ads about him. Boo hoo hoo.

Clinton gives a totally reasonable answer on whether she’ll respect the outcome of this election. Trump responds by saying some random nonsense about corruption but does say he’ll support Clinton, should she win. Glad we got that settled!

I’m going to bed.