Well, the clash of the titans is over, and now we have to deal with the aftermath of the first presidential debate of the 2016 election season. The result came as a surprise to some who didn’t expect a supposedly weak and feeble Hillary Clinton to be able to stand on stage for 90 minutes, let alone withstand the blustering and bullying tactics of Donald Trump. But instead of folding, Clinton showed Trump how it’s played in the big leagues.
A comment from CNN's focus group stuck w/ me: Hillary "took control of the situation." Trump did not look in-charge. https://t.co/2KMQkdSrfE— Josh Barro (@jbarro) September 27, 2016
As reported by CNN, Clinton had Trump on the defense for much of the debate. She arrived entirely prepared with her facts in hand and her cogent arguments marshaled. Clinton was controlled and seemingly entirely at ease with the situation, as well as with her bloviating and sniffling opponent across the way.
By contrast, Trump seemed utterly unprepared with any facts to back up his increasingly broad and absurd assertions. Of course, facts are not exactly Donald Trump’s forte. Like many of his supporters, he usually prefers style over substance and volume over accuracy.
Clinton’s best line of the night might have been when Trump took a jab at her for being off the campaign trail just before the debates. Clinton responded, “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate.”
She continued, “And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be President. And that is a good thing.”
Immediately following the debate, commentators across the board, including Fox News, have weighed in with the almost uniform opinion that Hillary didn’t just beat Trump in the first presidential debate – she absolutely crushed him under the weight of logic and experience. Clearly, it’s back to the drawing board for the Trump handlers.
Clinton won this debate in part because she had more stamina for this than Trump. He flagged badly after 30 minutes. She didn't.— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) September 27, 2016
Trump’s “braggadocious” comment was one of the highlights of the evening and got a laugh from the audience. His attempt to pretend that he isn’t profoundly fond of himself would have been more convincing if he hadn’t spent the whole 90 minutes telling us about his money, his buildings and how everyone – absolutely everyone – just loves him.
Another solid moment for Clinton came when Trump – in his trademark insinuating way – suggested that Hillary Clinton might not have the stamina for the presidency. Clinton quickly used his suggestion to hammer him hard.
“As soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”
One of the worst debate quagmires for Trump came with the “birther” question. Over the last few weeks, Trump and his campaign have made a concerted effort to shift the blame for the suggestion that President Obama was not born in the United States onto Hillary Clinton.
Of course, anyone who was watching the news in 2008 and afterward knows that Donald Trump was the principle cheerleader of the birther movement. His assertion that he is proud that he convinced Obama to release his birth certificate sounds like someone desperately trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
I think back half of debate hurts Trump...birther issue, Rosie O'Donnell, his taxes, women, focus on Sidney Blumenthal.— David Gregory (@davidgregory) September 27, 2016
Donald Trump’s continuing threats to our allies in NATO and Asia were both alarming and ridiculously embarrassing. The alliance system – established by both Democrats and Republicans – has over the last 70 years largely kept the peace and maintained United States prominence in world affairs. Trump would apparently throw all of this away because Japan and Germany won’t split the check.
Clinton on the other hand provided steady reassurance to our allies and our enemies that we would continue to stand by them. Consistent foreign policy and leadership is what the United States needs right now. Hillary Clinton made it plain who could provide that – and who couldn’t. With only two more presidential debates and one vice presidential, the Trump campaign must be sweating by now.
[Feature Image by Pool/Getty Images]