Some Trump/Clinton Debate Thoughts

I had successfully managed to avoid watching Trump debate until last night. I’d hoped he wouldn’t make it out of the Republican debates, and that I’d save myself a whole bunch of time and wasted energy by skipping hearing him bloviate at all.

Oh to be so lucky.

Last night, I watched the debate, because this is the future of our country, like it or not, and I wanted to see what was going on. And I’m here to report on what I personally took away from the debate. I haven’t read any commentary about it. I haven’t even checked my Facebook feed that much.

A bit of a reminder about me, to put this into context. I was a staunch Republican for years. I was (and actually still am) a big fan of George W. Bush, but then I also voted for Obama when he first ran. That was (obviously) the time when I started really making a shift in my views on politics, and it mainly came down to one person: Sarah Palin. I was so disgusted that my party could try to hold her up as a valid candidate for Vice President. I couldn’t vote for any ticket that had her on it. I went back to voting Republican last time, when I voted for Romney. Today I consider myself an independent, though I’m still listed as a registered Republican.

I also really dislike Donald Trump and what his rhetoric has been doing to the country. It’s mind boggling to me that the Republican party could have nominated such a man as its candidate. There are many Republicans I could have voted for. I will never vote for Trump, regardless of what he tries to do to distance himself from the terrible things and ideas he’s nurtured and encouraged.

So clearly I’m not unbiased. On the flip side, my experience with Clinton is mixed. I remember really disliking her when her husband was in office, but then again, I was also in high school at the time and wasn’t exactly a super informed citizen. I’ve heard many of the arguments against her, but I haven’t really made up my mind as to how many of those arguments are rooted in reality. (Trump and many Republicans of his ilk these days seem to believe they can create reality by just shouting something over and over. That’s not how it works.)

Anyway. Enough preamble. Here’s what I thought:

  • Trump came out quite strong for the first third of the debate. He was speaking about economic policy, and he got in some good comments about what he’d do differently and what’s being done wrong in the country today. He wasn’t nearly as overbearing as I thought he’d be, and I was actually surprised by how well he managed to keep things under control. I was worried for the first thirty minutes, honestly. If he could keep this up, I thought he had a chance of persuading voters that what they’d heard about him and his demeanor in the past was wrong.
  • Then the last 2/3rds of the debate came along, and he fell back in line with his previous self. He was obnoxious and rude. He veered away from making reasoned arguments and instead just resorted to saying “Wrong” over and over. He got involved in big explanations about things that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. He stumbled over trying to explain what he had said or hadn’t said, drawing in other people to explain it, as if they’d be able to come up on stage and confirm he was right.
  • Clinton stayed on message for almost the whole debate, I felt. She was cool and collected, regardless of what Trump threw at her, which was impressive. I imagine Republican talking heads are accusing her of being smarmy or oozy, but I saw someone making reasoned arguments the whole time. I didn’t agree with everything she said, but I appreciated her candor and willingness to admit she was wrong.
  • The biggest weakness Trump seemed to have was himself. As soon as the moderator or Clinton would use his own words against him, he went off the handle, trying to show how he didn’t say that or how he didn’t mean it like it had been said.
  • I doubt the debate did much to change the minds of anyone who wasn’t on the fence. I imagine Clinton supporters thought she did wonderfully, and Trump supporters (or as seems more often the case, Hilary haters) thought she was a lying politician and he showed keen business acumen.
  • For undecided, I can’t help think Clinton made a much better case. Trump just had too many “huh?” moments. For example, when called out on potentially not paying any taxes, he said that made him smart. He was using the laws to get personal advantage. Yet then he criticized Clinton’s staffers for pleading the fifth, how is that not the same thing? They’re using the laws to protect themselves. When he defended himself for not releasing his tax returns, he said he was just doing what his lawyers told him to. So are her staffers not supposed to do the same thing?

Bottom line for me is that I walked away from debate impressed with what Clinton had to say. I’d heard a lot of negativity around her, but I didn’t see it for myself. I’ve heard the Republican arguments against her, but I can’t help thinking a lot of those arguments are just sour grapes. Things like Benghazi and the email scandal sound much closer to the same arguments people make about George W., 9/11, and jet fuel vs. steel beams. There’s more than a bit of tin foil about them, especially at this point, with so much investigation having been done.

Before tonight, I wasn’t sure who I would vote for, other than that there was no way I’d vote for Trump. Ever. After tonight, I’m very much leaning toward voting Clinton. I’ll continue to hold off completely making up my mind until Election Day, unless (as I’ve said before) there seems to be any realistic chance Trump will win. At that point, I’ll very much vote Clinton to try to stop that from happening.

But as is usually my habit, I wanted to break things down using pop culture. And for today’s pop culture analogy, we’ll turn to The Three Amigos. Voting for Trump is like voting for El Guapo. The man is successful, yes, but his success comes at the expense of the people. He’s also a huge jerk, and pretty much evil. Voting for Clinton would be more like voting for Dusty (Chevy Chase’s character). Sure, he’s done some boneheaded things (shooting the invisible swordsman, talking about pruning the hedges of many small villages, etc.), but pretty much anyone would be better than El Guapo.

Don’t vote for El Guapo.

What did you think of the debate?

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