First Debate: My Reactions

I once watched Trump speak for 40 minutes in Arkansas (on YouTube), but that was a few weeks after he announced he was running. No one had voted yet. I was surprised he was even running.

After that I have not watched any of his speeches, none of his primary debates. I have never owned a TV. I read news online.

I was flabbergasted at what I saw. What do they teach at Wharton? This guy's views on trade are identical to his views on climate change. It is like he needs a refresher course on the first few chapters of an Economics textbook.

If America does what Trump wants done on trade, which is basically to walk away from everyone, America is Greece in 10 years. This guy wants to engineer a titanic collapse. Why is he so mad at America?

America is transforming. The world is transforming. Thank God for China or the Great Recession would have been a Great Depression. It feels like Trump is mad there are now skyscrapers in Malaysia. Heck, they are everywhere. He would like to go back to an era when only America had skyscrapers. American greatness has been eclipsed by the skyscrapers around the world.

You can't say Bill Clinton gave you a good economy with incomes rising in every income bracket and then get mad at him for NAFTA. That NAFTA is how he did it, folks. He gave you a record surplus. That money should have been ploughed into human capital, into education and health, and into paying down some of the debt. But no, poor people voted to give rich people huge tax cuts. Explain that to me.

And poor people are threatening to give super rich people huge tax cuts all over again. Something is not quite computing here.

That is the only coherent policy proposal Trump has. He wants to give tax cuts to people like himself. Don't fall for it. Don't worry about Trump's family. Think about your own families.

I don't see how America can walk away from trade. That is like saying Trump can turn off the Internet. Or that he can build a wall.

Not only can America not walk away from trade but more importantly it should not walk away from trade. America should engage with the world even more.

What America should do is invest in education and health. What America should do is invest in broadband and infrastructure and in clean energy.

There was a time when looked like everyone was fleeing the farms for the cities. That story ended up quite well.

America is on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution. But the rest of the world will also do well, and that is tremendous.

But this is a knowledge economy now. And a responsible president would invest heavily in broadband and education.

That is Hillary.

The Great Wall Of Trump is the stupidest idea anyone has ever pushed in any election anywhere in the world, ever. Mexicans are coming through tunnels. But Trump wants to build a wall into the sky. The Mexicans are an enterprising people. They are simply going to hop over the Great Wall Of Trump in drones. Drones are much cheaper than tunnels.

Trump Inc. would like to branch out from the hotel business into the wall construction business. That is all there is to it. This is Trump's Halliburton. He did not get to build the Empire State Building so he is going to build a wall.

But the sponsor of the project - Mexico - has already walked away. There is no money to build the Great Wall Of Trump.

The recovery after 2008 has been slower than it could have been. But it is because the party of Trump absolutely opposed the $3 trillion stimulus the economy needed in 2009. All that money would have gone straight to Main Street. This is like Bin Laden blaming Bush for 9/11. Bush, why did you blow up the buildings?

The audacity of the liar!

The party of Trump opposed the $3 trillion stimulus in 2009 that was the recommendation of every economist of every stripe. But that same party of Trump is today proposing a $5 trillion tax cut for the super rich. That is the only coherent policy proposal Trump has. He is in this to make money. He wants to give himself a tax cut with money he wants all Americans to borrow from China. With borrowed money! He has no problems with China. He only has problems with poverty, the poverty that only rich people know.

He kept bragging how he just built a hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue "below budget, ahead of schedule.... I am going to Pennsylvania Avenue one way or the other." Some people might have opted to simply go for a walk.

The guy sounded like he were auditioning for Commerce Secretary. Or, worse, Halliburton.

If this guy becomes president next thing you know he has set up a casino in the Capitol Hill basement so the well paid Senators and Congressmen have somewhere to go burn the fat.

This guy has designs to turn the White House into a Trump Hotel. He said as much.

Hillary Clinton came across as very, very well prepared. I was particularly impressed with the textured and nuanced things she had to say on criminal justice reform.

They entered the debate a virtual tie. After this debate I believe Hillary should open at least a five point lead. In a fair world she would open a double digit lead.

Donald Trump Fell For Hillary Clinton's Trap At Monday's Presidential Debate | Huffington Post

Trump came out with a clear game plan targeted at Ohio and Pennsylvania voters frustrated with the loss of manufacturing, hitting Clinton on trade over and over.

But he fairly quickly reverted to the alpha male role that had worked so well in Republican debates, becoming something of a Rick Lazio in split screen, hectoring, interrupting, sniffling loudly and rolling his eyes.

“First, maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is,” Clinton said. “Maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be. Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes.”

Trump took the bait, because he knows no other way, interrupting Clinton over and over. 

 “I did not support the war in Iraq,” he said. Tape of him saying he did support it in 2002, he said, shouldn’t be believed, because he hadn’t thought about the issue much.

And that, more than anything, was the impression the debate left: Trump hasn’t thought about this stuff much. He’s not ready to be president.

Trump's Debate Performance Was The Worst Ever | Huffington Post

Republican nominee Donald Trump turned in the worst ― and I mean worst ― debate performance in modern times.

he could not deal with Clinton’s well-prepared plan to attack him on every front.  

As Clinton gained confidence, she flatly called Trump a racist and a sexist ― the latter with a vehemence she had clearly stored up for months. Some might have thought she overplayed her hand, but by the end of the debate Trump was hardly a sympathetic character.

With NBC moderator Lester Holt becoming more aggressive at the end after losing control of things early, the debate was for the most part an exercise in exposing Trump’s lack of knowledge and casual approach to the biggest moment of the campaign.

she went after Trump with all the skill of the Yale-trained lawyer she is, and did so for the most part with a wry tone that was more that of a mom talking to a 7-year old

a successful effort to get under Trump’s skin, first by calling him “Donald” and then, in one particularly effective recitation, by listing reasons why Trump might not want to release his income tax returns.

Trump also found himself agreeing with Clinton several times, like a boxer holding himself up by clutching his foe.

the consensus in the press room was that Trump had been had.

The effect on Monday was cumulative. If words matter and the rational reigns in American politics, then this would be a heavy blow to Trump’s chances.

Donald Trump Sniffled His Way Through The Debate, And People Noticed | Huffington Post

Donald Trump Accuses Lester Holt Of Bias In First Debate | Huffington Post

Nothing Sums Up Trump's Disastrous First Debate Quite Like This | Huffington Post

Trump Held It Together For About 10 Minutes, And Then He Started To Unspool | Huffington Post

One candidate, Democrat Hillary Clinton, has experience and a firm grasp of policy. She believes in studying and thinks very carefully before she speaks. She tries not to offend people.

The other candidate, Republican Donald Trump, is a political novice who doesn’t know much about policy. He doesn’t believe in homework and he says whatever pops into his mind. He offends people constantly.

Trump couldn’t keep up with Clinton’s knowledge of policy, and became increasingly obstreperous when she attacked him. He interrupted her repeatedly and then, frustrated with questions from host Lester Holt, he interrupted him, too. Eventually, Trump lost focus and started to ramble. The lack of impulse control, the derogatory attitude toward women, the utter disregard for truth ― all of it came into full view.

And at that point, maybe, Trump’s style stopped seeming refreshing ― and started seeming disturbing.

The great thing about presidential debates is that they leave no place to hide. And that’s a problem for Trump, who, as James Fallows noted in The Atlantic this month, managed to survive Republican primary debates by fading into the background and letting other candidates lead on more substantive discussions.

On Monday night, Trump had to hold his own on policy and his answers were at times flat-out incoherent.

None of these questions or attacks were the least bit surprising. The fact that Trump didn’t have sharper, more coherent answers suggests he was as casual about his preparation as his campaign had suggested all along ― that he simply couldn’t be bothered to think through how he intended to perform.

Hillary Clinton Just Made History | Huffington Post

Trump: Bad At Business

Giuliani: I'd skip next debates if I were Trump - POLITICO

Lester Holt, the NBC News anchor who moderated the debate, should be “ashamed of himself,” Giuliani said after the debate. He said Holt was wrong to attempt to fact-check Trump on the constitutionality of stop-and-frisk and his claimed opposition to the Iraq War.

Trump: My mic was 'defective' - POLITICO

"They gave me a defective mic!" he told reporters. "[I] wonder, was that on purpose?"

Clinton gets under Trump’s skin - POLITICO

for most of the evening, it was Clinton who was driving the agenda. She rattled off crisp prepared lines and repeatedly lured Trump into less politically favorable terrain, including a long discussion of why he was refusing to release his taxes.

And in an unprecedented moment for presidential politics, the Democratic nominee midway through the debate accused the Republican nominee of racism.

“He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior,” Clinton said, during an exchange on Trump’s years-long questioning of the American citizenship of President Barack Obama.

Trump soon fired back with one of the evening’s most memorable lines. “When you try to act holier than thou it really doesn’t work.”

“I have a feeling that by the end of this evening I am going to be blamed for everything,” Clinton said with a smile.

“Why not?” Trump retorted.

“Just join the debate by saying more crazy things,” Clinton shot back.

Clinton seemed to gain steam as the debate went on, hitting Trump in the closing minutes for his past attacks objectifying women’s appearances. The former secretary of state often appeared relaxed as Trump scowled and tried to jump in during her answers.

Last night’s debate, or the mansplaining Olympics

Colbert Reacts

The first presidential debate

WHEN George Wallace ran a populist campaign for president in 1968, Lurleen Wallace, his wife, was asked what people liked so much about him. “When he’s on ‘Meet the Press’ they can listen to him and think, ‘That’s what I would say if I were up there.’” Bear this in mind as you read confident predictions that HillaryFrom about the 15-minute mark (of a total of 90) the debate became very strange. The moderator, Lester Holt, had an impossible job trying to prevent the two candidates from yelling at each other. Mrs Clinton launched a series of personal attacks on Mr Trump, which he couldn’t resist picking up on. Mr Trump bragged, bulldozed and free-associated, as he had through the primaries. Mrs Clinton was well-prepared and verbose. Clinton triumphed in the first presidential debate at Hofstra University. This campaign is the political equivalent of asymmetric warfare. The candidates do not meet on the same plane. Plenty of people who watched the debate will conclude that Donald Trump won.

From about the 15-minute mark (of a total of 90) the debate became very strange. The moderator, Lester Holt, had an impossible job trying to prevent the two candidates from yelling at each other. Mrs Clinton launched a series of personal attacks on Mr Trump, which he couldn’t resist picking up on. Mr Trump bragged, bulldozed and free-associated, as he had through the primaries. Mrs Clinton was well-prepared and verbose.

Those who switched on this debate thinking that Mr Trump is not qualified to be president will not have changed their minds. Those who began by thinking that Mrs Clinton is a dangerous socialist who should be locked up will have seen nothing to change their minds. But what did the 10-20% of voters who tell pollsters that they are undecided, or planning to vote for a third party, see? They saw one candidate who was well-prepared and a bit rambling, and another who was downright weird at times. 1-0 to Mrs Clinton.

Majority of snap polls show Trump won debate by a landslide despite CNN's overwhelming victory for Hillary in biggest official survey

The Drudge Report's poll showed Trump fared better with 81.5 per cent of the vote to Clinton's 18.5 while others, including Time, CBS New York and the Washington Times, also saw Trump win the vote.

The Daily Show

An Ugly Campaign, Condensed Into One Debate

But when just one candidate is serious and the other is a vacuous bully, the term loses all meaning.

Donald Trump’s Online Trolls Turn on Their ‘God Emperor’ - The Daily Beast

North Carolina, a state that bettors believed was headed into GOP hands before the debate, flipped for the Democrats over the course of the debate.

Back on 4chan, conspiracy theories still prevailed. One user thought he noticed a dark spot on Clinton’s clothes.

“Why would you ever vote for a person who DROOLS on her own clothes?” the user wrote, circling the spot with Photoshop.

Other users responded quickly. “That’s a microphone shadow, ya dingus.”

Online votes declare Trump debate winner, despite media consensus for Clinton | Fox News

The online surveys are not scientific and, in many cases, supporters of either candidate can cast multiple ballots. Still, the disconnect in judging Trump’s performance was reminiscent of the Republican Party primary, when pundits often said his competitors bested him while online polls put him on top.

Debate breaks record as most-watched in U.S. history

More than 80 million people tuned in to see Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off, setting a new record in the sixty year history of televised presidential debates.

Trump points fingers after shaky debate - POLITICO

Donald Trump’s long night on Long Island morphed into a day of finger-pointing Tuesday, as he revived his brashest personal style to explain an erratic debate performance against Hillary Clinton.

The Republican presidential nominee, beleaguered after an erratic performance in Monday’s debate — with viewership as high as 100 million — retreated to his Fox News and Twitter cocoon.

The first debate featured an unprepared man repeatedly shouting over a highly prepared woman - Vox

The first presidential debate featured a man who didn’t know what he was talking about repeatedly shouting over a woman who was extraordinarily prepared.

The debate was a collision between Donald Trump’s politics of dominance and Hillary Clinton’s politics of preparation.

Clinton’s politics of preparation won.

Trump did his best to be fair. He interrupted Clinton 25 times in the debate’s first 26 minutes. He talked over both her and moderator Lester Holt with ease. But the show of dominance quickly ran into a problem: Trump would shout over his interlocutors only to prove he had nothing to say.

There’s just an astonishing gap in the coherence of these two answers. Neither, in my view, stands as a particularly great answer in the history of presidential debates. But Clinton’s is a basically logical, informed response to an obvious question; Trump’s answer is simply word salad.

Trump grew less and less coherent as the night wore on, and his early spree of interruptions flagged as he was quickly forced onto topics where he hadn’t done the work to feel comfortable. Clinton, by contrast, grew stronger as the debate wore on, because she had prepared for everything the moderators threw at her.

Ranting Bully Donald Trump Came Unglued in First Debate

Before the first presidential debate, a conventional wisdom had formed that Donald Trump merely needed to appear “presidential,” which the campaign media had defined as “non-sociopathic.” He failed to clear that bar.

Trump managed to tell a number of lies without consequence. He insisted he had never called global warming a Chinese hoax, when that very claim is still up on his Twitter feed. He insisted crime has risen in New York, when it has fallen. He insisted that, contrary to his public support for the Iraq War, he had opposed it in private, inaccessible conversations with his lickspittle Sean Hannity — who, if called upon to do so, would probably vouchsafe that Trump indeed won the 1985 American League Most Valuable Player Award.

The final exchange of the debate was the most devastating. Clinton lacerated Trump for his dehumanization of women — the kind of sexualization that offends social conservatives and social liberals alike. 

How did Clinton come across? She maintained her composure and her dignity, something no Republican who confronted (or was bullied by) Trump in the primary debates managed to do. She had facts at her disposal, she apologized for her poor choice of email systems, and she conveyed that she is sane and competent. The contrast between an obviously and eminently qualified public servant and a ranting bully was as stark as any presidential debate in American history.

‘No Sniffles,’ Trump Says, Denying the Obvious