reflections on the 1st Trump/Clinton debate
-Both met expectations. Trump did well for his first one-on-one debate, but left ops on the table; Clinton was solid and measured. Clinton was on the offensive much of the night, offering little of what she would do. When she did, it sounded like a laundry list of policies/spending, platitudes (ok if you're into that sort of thing), and a broad discussion of the broad shoulders required (hers) to run the country well. If you're picking a debate winner based on debate style, Clinton wins by a head. If you're picking a winner based on the politics of the moment (as David Weigel does here)-- do we want more of the status quo vs. it's time for something different-- then it's a draw or Trump by a head.
-Lester Holt opened by saying this was sponsored by the "non-partisan" commission. It's run by the GOP and the Dems, so what he meant was the highly-partisan "bi-partisan" commission. Holt came across as partisan-- asking Trump about his taxes and the birther controversy, while asking her about no controversies or brutal policy problems. (Trump brought up the emails, not Holt, right?) Presumably, the moderators will ask Hillary some tough questions in the next two debates.
-They were both garbage on basic economics. Trump exhibited his usual ignorance on international trade, trade deficits, conflating budget deficits and trade deficits, etc. Clinton said some crazy stuff about the Great Recession (blaming it on 1980s tax policy); called for businesses to "share their profits" (uhh, what do you think they do now?!); and was just making up numbers on job creation from her vs. his fiscal policy. (UPDATE: Apparently, she was referring to some of the Bush tax cuts-- which is more ridiculous, since they were quite modest compared to the 1980s and were extended by Obama.)
-Ironically, Trump's "stop-and-frisk" is more gun controllish than not. So, he notes his endorsement from the police and the NRA-- and then grabs more of the field with this policy. (It's a local policy, so it doesn't even play much into the federal government!) The policy stance plays to 1.) "law and order" types (many of them will make the trade-off in this context); 2.) gun control types; and 3.) inner city residents. And it made her look bad in terms of him as a reformer vs. her as a status quo, talk-talk-talker. He really pounded that-- to great effect, I think.
-Now, back to the politics and what Trump emphasized: Think where the trade rhetoric works-- the industrial Midwest. And think about his urban strategy last night on crime, "inner city" woes, etc. Remember the cities he mentioned-- in particular, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and a few others. I would guess that he was really effective in PA, OH, MI, IN, IL, and WI last night.
-The emphasis on "words" was interesting. Trump scored big points on her lovely words vs. limited actions, lack of accomplishments vs. ample experience. Clinton fought that off, but at the end, on NATO, she emphasized that "our word is good".
-I'm curious how Ttump's rhetoric is heard by non-yellow-dog African-Americans-- and whether the reality of those comments (e.g., inner-city violence vs. stop/frisk and economic problems) and his repeated claims about her rhetoric and record would score (a ton of) points. Related: will they hear her 40-year-old lawsuit example as something significant or slanderous. (Or for those interested in jobs and his point about regulations, another example of regulation gone awry.)
-On appearances, it's interesting that he chose a blue tie and she chose a red pantsuit. When she looked at him, it looked like she was going to pass out-- with her eyes heavy and blinking a lot. I wonder if there was a fan blowing down on them (or bright lights as she tried to look toward/at him) that made it difficult for her to open her eyes.
-UPDATE: A fun op-ed by Stossel on what's wrong with both of them, as per the debate.