Counterpoint: Trump Lost, But Only Because He Hung Himself From His Own Dick



I was going to pass on writing about the debate because, as yr great Editrix pointed out in her #Slatepitch this morning, I was in the minority who thought Hillary lost, and if Trix agreed with me at first, that was only because I temporarily infected her with my Sully Fever. My view was that, at best, Hillary fought to a draw after a terrible opening segment for her.

Like Rebecca, I too rewatched the debate today. My revised opinion is that it wasn't as bad as I had thought for Hillary, but not because she was actually amazing. She wasn't. She was fine. She won! But she won because Trump blew it so comprehensively that it would have been shocking if it hadn't been Donald Trump doing the blowing.

And let's be honest. The first 20 minutes were not good for her. She sounded too scripted, which contrasted poorly with Trump's more conversational style, and right out of the gate she took a hammering on trade.

The best she could come up with in response to Trump's NAFTA attacks were "That is your opinion."

I'm trying to think of a lamer retort.

Still thinking.

Then, when Trump said, surreally, that Clinton had been fighting ISIS her "entire adult life," she said (according to the WaPo transcript):

CLINTON: That's a -- that's -- go to the -- please, fact checkers, get to work.

Hillary. You do not need to sputter at the Fact Checkers when Trump says something so monumentally stupid and mendacious. You say something like, oh I don't know, "Donald, I wish I could say that's the most ridiculous thing you've ever said but sadly I can't." Or, "There's something else Donald doesn't know about ISIS. How old they are." Or even just "That's ridiculous and everyone knows it." Not "Ah eh hu ur Fact Checkers, eh!"

But the main thing that had me feeling grim at the start, and something I still think was a huge missed opportunity, was Hillary's total lack of any rebuttal to Trump's predictable, and very effective "Everything is awful" routine.

She didn't have to be a Pollyanna and act like everything's actually great. But how hard would it have been to take Trump's "Our country's in deep trouble," which he said in his second turn speaking, and respond directly to that?

Something about how we actually have by far the highest median income in the world for a country of our size. Something about how American companies are the most valuable in the world. Something about the most powerful military, the best universities, incredible advances in technology. You know, THE FUCKING FACTS. For dessert, something about how we still have work to do and will always have work to do, but we've got a heck of a lot going for us too. Do not surrender to the false premise that the country is in the toilet.

Just one well-timed "Oh please!" from Hillary in the first few minutes would have been great. There were about four hundred times she could have dropped that in.

But of course, the first segment wasn't the entire debate. The turning point for me came when Hillary was able to say "Actually I wrote a whole fucking book on this" when accused of having no plan for the economy. From that point on, Hillary seemed looser and Trump started to unravel, to put it kindly. If you've ever put a golf ball in a vise and sawed into it with a hacksaw, and all of a sudden all the rubber bands inside come flying out... it was kinda like that.

I don't need to go into it in too much detail except to say that Trump badly botched literally everything else that came up. He didn't press on Hillary's State Department emails. He had no good answer on his taxes (in fact he had a bad one: he doesn't pay them, which means he's "smart"). He was beyond incoherent on cybersecurity, race relations, et cetera ad nauseum.

Hillary meanwhile did some sweet jiu-jitsu on attacks against her stamina and preparation for the debate and presidency. And that was cool. And she won, fine.

But she won because Trump was about as bad as he realistically could have been.

She had the opportunity to embarrass him so utterly that he simply vanished in a puff of golden smoke right then and there, sparing us any further anxiety about this election's outcome. Instead, she merely won.

WaPo ]


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