And the Loser of Tonight’s Debate Is …

There really need not be a long post-game analysis of last night’s embarrassing show in Hofstra.  There is absolutely no possible way any rational person could say Trump won the debate, which means the bulk of his fans will say he won  it.  It also isn’t very likely that Hillary will pick up a lot in the polls from it – she was her normal scripted, calculating self.  It was mostly a substance-less, silly little escapade and not only failed to provide much meat on the bone for those trying to sort through issues, it also failed to entertain for those tens of millions of voters who just wanted a WWE match.

Trump came out pretty strong, and Hillary came out like a programmed robot.  After roughly 20 minutes, something kicked in that got under Trump’s skin, and he stayed on the defensive for the rest of the debate.  Hillary is exactly right as to why Trump won’t release his tax returns, but I am not sure anyone cares any more.  She drew blood on Trump’s history of poor business dealings, and got Trump to repeat a line from the primary debates I had forgotten about how he “took advantage of the laws of the nation” when he declared bankruptcy multiple times.  I guess the line must work because he did win the primary, but wow.  To my knowledge, Trump never once uttered the words “Clinton Foundation” or “Benghazi.”  God knows Lester Holt didn’t.  By the last 20 minutes Hillary seemed more comfortable, and Trump seemed extremely rattled and inarticulate.  My comments on his is inarticulateness are not meant merely in an absolute sense – but I mean relatively speaking, even compared to his normal inarticulateness, he really did delve into an incoherence that I found bizarre.

I do not believe Hillary bested him on the substance of “stop and frisk.”  I just don’t believe Americans believe it was a dangerous or ill-advised policy, and the fruits of it spoke for themselves.  She can play the race card there all she wants, but on the merits the law and order angle Trump and most people are after do not have an issue with “stop and frisk.”  Hillary’s content about “mandatory training” for the “implicit racist bias we ALL have” was down right Orwellian, and of course idiotic.  On the substance, if you are not horrified to hear Hillary talking about some sort of “mandatory profit sharing” plan, you probably are not an American.  And if you have the impression Trump really understands currency and trade, you very likely will believe anything.

But as some may have predicted roughly 2,000 times in the primary, the issues that did Trump in last night were his ego, erraticism, and history.  Tax returns and birtherism captured 20 minutes of debate time.  Is that the moderator’s fault?  Maybe.  But where was savvy, street-smart Trump to divert and re-direct?  He walked into trap after trap, almost always because he just cannot stand someone getting under his skin.  Even when she completely screamed to hit her over the head about her server/email scandal when she went on a bizarre cyber-security rant, he just completely missed.  If there was a moment of comedy last night, and I only say it was funny because it was seriously so pitiful and sad, it was Trump’s 50x repeated claim that “you can ask Sean Hannity” if you want to know that he opposed the war in Iraq (FYI – Hannity has since confirmed that there is not footage and no transcript proving such, BUT Trump really, really did say it off camera a lot; ay yi yi).

Now here’s the thing, and this is why I am really not sure any of this matters.  Last night reinforced why I find both candidates so deplorable.  But I am not sure this election will end up hinging on anything that took place last night.  At the end of the day, there is a mathematical calculation playing out underneath the fabric of all this, and it will determine the election outcome.  Do more people find Hillary unreliable, calculating, deceiving, misleading, morally bankrupt, and completely lacking in core, OR do more people find Trump immature, petulant, unqualified, temperamentally unsound, and egocentric?  It is a sort of race to the bottom, and if at the end of the day this will break along “the outsider we don’t know” vs. “the insider we do know” lines, Trump could probably go back to killing people on 5th Avenue and it wouldn’t matter.

No sane person believes Hillary can be trusted.  No sane person believe Trump has any idea what he is doing or talking about.

So yeah, I think I know who lost the debate.  And come election night, one way or the other, we’re all going to be losing again.