Episode 55 of my podcast is now posted here (with copious links) and on YouTube. It was recorded 30 minutes after the end of the first Presidential Debate. So first impressions only, no post-debate “consensus” (ha) or “fact-checking” (ha, ha). (Full debate transcript here.)
I scored the result (using the 10-point must system) Trump 10, Hillary 7. My partner Kevin Steel had Donald Trump 10, Hillary Clinton 8. But first some thoughts about Lester Holt of NBC. As Juvenal would have asked, “Who moderates the moderators?”
Holt introduced his first question with some highly dubious economic data:
There’s been a record six straight years of job growth, and new census numbers show incomes have increased at a record rate after years of stagnation.
In other words, America is already great. The fix was in from the start. Holt interrupted Trump constantly and warned him to hurry up, even as he bent the rules to give Hillary more time. He took issue with Trump’s statements again and again, and I half expected him to ask, “When did you stop beating your wives?” One could have lived with that, if he had been half as tough on Clinton, but even within the 140-character confines of Twitter, I managed to list four major Hillary controversies about which Holt was conspicuously silent.
Two predictions: 1. The Commission on Presidential Debates will not exist in its present form in 2020. 2. Vertically integrated media giants such as NBC will not exist in their present form in 2020.
Trump crushed Hillary in the first 30 minutes, wherein he argued forcefully and persuasively that the economic recovery touted by Holt is a sham. He attacked NAFTA, the TPP, currency manipulation and outsourcing. He named names: Mexico, China, Carrier, Ford. And he promised to use tariffs to protect American jobs.
Hillary responded by posturing, against all evidence, as the sworn foe of the 1% and the champion of the middle class. She trotted out her focus-grouped damp squib “Trumped-up trickle down” to describe his tax plan. She mocked him for his financial reversals and for being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, insinuating that he was a tax cheat and not rich at all. These attacks hurt her among all voters who aren’t trustafarians or crippled by envy because
Trump responded to Hillary’s attacks by yanking the NAFTA millstone he’d placed around her neck. And for the first time (but not the last) Hillary turned her head and grinned inanely before begging for the “fact-checkers” (the new high priests of journalism) to come to her aid.
The debate about race began strongly for Trump, too, with Hillary scoring another own goal by accusing the police (and all Americans) of harboring “implicit bias” against blacks and Hispanics and accusing the courts of “systemic racism.” This is Black Lives Matter in all but name. Trump responded by citing the post-Ferguson explosion of murder in the inner city and adding, “The people most affected by what is happening are African-American and Hispanic people.”
Trump doubled down on law and order, while Hillary doubled down on the “oppression” narrative. Except that she claimed to be offended on behalf of black Americans by Trump’s focus on the crisis in the black community and proceeded to extol the vibrancy (or some such) of the very people supposedly crippled by implicit bias and systemic racism. I half expected her to read the name of every 2016 Howard University graduate. Of course as Kevin Steel has pointed out, if Black America is in such great shape, this raises an obvious question.
The rest of the debate did not go so well for Trump, with the exception of a couple of zingers: “Why not?” and “Bad experience.” Trump rambled incessantly in a pointless discussion of cyber security and when attacked for his supposed insolvency, “racism” and “misogyny.” He was obviously taking great pains to avoid the accusation of being “mean-spirited.” I was warned in advance that by taking the “high road” Trump would appear thereby to be “Presidential,” but his discretion impressed me as unnecessarily weak.
Unfortunately for VDARE readers, consideration of the crucial question, “Just how much of a meanie was Trump 20 years ago when he body-shamed a Latina beauty queen?” left no time for the lesser questions of immigration, the Wall, the National Question and Islam. I suspect these issues will come up in Saint Louis on October 9, unless of course Trump’s “unconscionable” treatment of Megyn Kelly and Heidi Klum takes precedence.