Takeaways From The First Presidential Debate: Clinton Measured, Trump A Mess

Well, folks, the first of three presidential debates is over, and I’m exhausted. Thus, I can only imagine how the candidates feel. My guess is Clinton is in a James Brown “I feel good” kind of mood, while Trump’s mood is a bit more dreary. I don’t say this out of bias, but Trump did not have a good night.


On The Economy

The first question from the moderator, Lester Holt, was what each candidate message was for the country. Admirably, Trump’s response was conservative, clear, and concise. Trump held to his message of improving the economy, starting with resurrecting jobs lost to other countries like Mexico and China.

“Our jobs are fleeing the country. They’re going to Mexico. They’re going to many other countries. You look at what China is doing to our country in terms of making our product. They’re devaluing their currency, and there’s nobody in our government to fight them. And we have a very good fight. And we have a winning fight. Because they’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing.”

Trump discussed that our country is taxed for selling a product to other nations, yet we don’t tax other countries for selling goods to us. Trump is infuriated by this and believes the system is rigged due to special interest groups. Trump also believes it’s imperative to end this lopsided rule. Trump also mentioned lowering the corporate tax from 35 percent to 15 percent, thinking this will stimulate the economy.

“I’ll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses. That’s going to be a job creator like we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan. It’s going to be a beautiful thing to watch.”

Most economists do not agree with this assessment, as Clinton pointed out. Clinton, however, did agree with Trump that the rules are stacked against hard working Americans. On the issue of trade, Clinton isn’t anti on the subject.

“Of course, we are five percent of the world’s population; we have to trade with the other 95 percent. And we need to have smart, fair trade deals.”

Clinton wasn’t shy in demolishing the Republican perception that “trickle-down economics” of lowering corporate tax breaks to stimulate the economy and create jobs doesn’t work. Clinton pointed to the economic crash under George W. Bush as the prime example. Liberals believe regressive taxes on the wealthy hurt poor and middle-class Americans the most. Instead, liberals prefer the tax rates for the rich be progressive.

“We also, though, need to have a tax system that rewards work and not just financial transactions. And the kind of plan that Donald has put forth would be trickle-down economics all over again. In fact, it would be the most extreme version, the biggest tax cuts for the top percent of the people in this country that we’ve ever had. I call it trumped-up trickle-down, because that’s exactly what it would be. That is not how we grow the economy.”

While still on the subject of the economy, Trump bragged about his successful ventures as a business man.

“…my father gave me a very small loan in 1975, and I built it into a company that’s worth many, many billions of dollars, with some of the greatest assets in the world, and I say that only because that’s the kind of thinking that our country needs.”

Clinton didn’t let this comment from Trump slide. Later in the debate, she reminded Trump and the audience that Trump’s the king of bankruptcies. She practically eviscerated Trump for bragging about loving debt during an economic crisis in which millions of Americans lost their jobs and retirement savings.

“In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, ‘Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.’ Well, it did collapse.”

Trump responded to Clinton’s comment by saying, “That’s called business, by the way.”

A terrible response. For a man who’s message is about making America great again and criticizing the establishment for taking advantage of Americans, Trump’s comment was rude, insensitive, alarming, and unpatriotic. We don’t root to enrich ourselves off of others’ misery, especially our fellow American brothers and sisters.

“Nine million people — nine million people lost their jobs. Five million people lost their homes. And $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out,” responded Clinton.

A point for Clinton, none for Trump.

HEMPSTEAD, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to the media in the spin room as wife, Melania Trump (R) looks on during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt. (Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

Foreign Policy

Trump was right on the money to accuse Clinton of being ineffective for over 30 years, in particular on the issue of radical Islam. Clinton’s public record of combatting terrorism is terrible (outside of supporting President Obama in capturing and killing Osama bin Laden). The facts are clear: The Middle East is in shambles.

Syria is a war-torn country, and far too many innocent children die by the merciless hands of Islamic radicals, and it’s culprits like Assad and Putin who provide weapons to kill. Clinton’s plans while the secretary of state did nothing to deflate the powers of ISIS, who wield Islam over people as a sword. Thus, Trump stomped on Clinton’s willingness to share her plans to destroy ISIS and accused her of enabling the enemy.

“She tells you how to fight ISIS on her website. I don’t think General Douglas MacArthur would like that too much.”

That said, Trump’s (to paraphrase) “I’m going to destroy them but not tell you about it” rhetoric isn’t enough, and neither is having Generals and ICE’s support going to set American minds at ease. Also, Trump accused Clinton of fighting ISIS most of her life and failing at it. It’s not true, nor does it make any sense. ISIS formed in 2004 under George W. Bush.

Trump also lied about his position on the Iraq War for the millionth time. He needs to admit the truth. Originally, he was for it just like Clinton.

Both were a let-down on this subject.

Racial Tensions/Law And Order

There’s no doubt about it: There is tension between the black community and the police force, and it’s not resolving anytime soon. On this subject, Clinton was pragmatic and earnest, while Trump played the typical Republican script of “law and order,” underscored with racism.

“Well, first of all, Secretary Clinton doesn’t want to use a couple of words, and that’s law and order. And we need law and order. If we don’t have it, we’re not going to have a country.”

Trump is convinced “stop and frisk” was a strong law and should be brought back in urban communities he deems ridden with crime. As he noted, “[black] people get shot every day walking down the street.” Thankfully Lester Holt informed Trump that the policy was deemed unconstitutional and not proactive in reducing crime; in fact, the policy was racial profiling. Trump in his stubbornness said it was a lie that the law is constitutional. Not Trump’s finest hour.

Clinton instead offered realism and compassion but also bone-dry honesty.

“Race remains a significant challenge in our country. Unfortunately, race still determines too much, often determines where people live, determines what kind of education in their public schools they can get, and, yes, it determines how they’re treated in the criminal justice system. We’ve just seen those two tragic examples in both Tulsa and Charlotte. And we’ve got to do several things at the same time. We have to restore trust between communities and the police. We have to work to make sure that our police are using the best training, the best techniques — that they’re well prepared to use force only when necessary — everyone should be respected by the law, and everyone should comply with the law.”

Clinton’s statement was a far cry from Trump’s blackhole assessment of blacks and Hispanics, believing, they must be policed twenty-four-seven because “we have gangs roaming the street. And in many cases, they’re illegally here, illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people. And we have to be adamant. And we have to be very vigilant.”

On this subject, Clinton wins hands-down. Especially, for calling out Trump for illuminating such a negative view of black lives in this country. Clinton was quick to remind Trump about the resilience of the black community.

“Well, I’ve heard — I’ve heard Donald say this at his rallies, and it’s unfortunate that he paints such a dire negative picture of black communities in our country,” said Clinton.

“You know, the vibrancy of the black church, the black businesses that employ so many people, the opportunities that so many families are working to provide for their kids. There’s a lot that we should be proud of and we should be supporting and lifting up.”

[Photo by :Drew Angerer/Getty Images]


On issue after issue, Clinton was measured and detailed with policy. Her comment on Trump not releasing his taxes was brilliant: “you haven’t paid any federal income taxes.”

Trump was fine during the first half hour, but then he settled into the abyss. Trump mostly interrupted Clinton, shouted, lied, offered few details on his policy prescriptions, and race-baited. Trump shrugged, drank lots of water (Get’em Sen. Rubio) and found a way to insult comedian Rosie O’Donnell. Trump started off confident but ended up a mess.

[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]