By Robert J. Garrison
Monday night, millions watched and saw exactly what is wrong with this years candidates. I don’t believe this debate will move the needle much if at all.
Trump came off as reserve and restrained. If we would have said that for any other candidate, that would have equated as a lost. But for Trump, it was a huge win. Hillary did her best to poke and prod Trump into a reaction and she tried to get him to appear unsettled and unhinged. However, Trump didn’t fall into her trap. Trump’s strongest points were on the subjects of economy, trade and the plight of inner city violence.
On the economy, he stayed on message about how companies are keeping money out of the country because the United States has the highest corporate tax rates in the world! These tax rates are too high for US companies. And as a consequence, they do not reinvest in creating new US jobs with their profits.
The exchange between the two over tax plans was one of Trump’s best. He got Hillary to admit that she would raise taxes, which Hillary stated before would only be on the wealthy. Lets be honest here, whenever a candidate says they are going to raise taxes only on the rich, it always leads to higher taxes on everyone. Also it ignores the fact that the wealthy pay the majority of taxes in this country already!
He also talked about the Fed’s policy of injecting liquidity into the economy to boost growth, which is creating a bubble. However, when it bursts, it will be worse than the housing bubble bursting in 2008. Trump’s assertion that the Fed are doing this for political reasons This is hyperbole, but it plays well to those that see that the injection of liquidity by the Fed has done nothing for economic growth.
Then the debate turned to Trump’s tax returns. Listen, no one gives a rat’s behind about the tax returns of candidates. It’s a non issue because it doesn’t affect people! Hillary tried to attack Trump on the fact that he hasn’t paid any Federal taxes, but Trump fired back by saying “That’s smart.”
The next strong point for Trump was trade. He has articulated this issue well since the beginning of his campaign and has successfully used it against Hillary during the debate. He effectively pointed out the flaws with NAFTA and pinned it on her husband. Trump did his best by showing how trade deals like NAFTA has brought us nothing but lose job, lose companies to foreign shores, and create massive trade deficits. Trump also talked about the value-added tax that Mexico places on US made products. This fact has flown under the radar of voters. Hillary briefly defended NAFTA which will hurt her in the rust belt states. Trump also correctly used her words of support TTP against her.
Lastly Trump has been the only candidate to talk about the plight happening in the inner cities. He has ventured and brought light to a problem that has been ignored by the media and Democrats. He effectively showed how Democrats use minorities as pawns in every election but fail to do nothing to help them after the elections are finished. The best and hardest hitting quote of the night for Trump was
You’ve been in politics for 30 years and have done nothing….typical politician all talk, no action.
He also had a great quote about Hillary’s experience
Yeah you’ve got experience, but its bad experience.
Trump missed many opportunities to attack Hillary when she gave him the opening to do so. I believe that was done on purpose because Trump didn’t want to come off as “mean and nasty” to her. He did a good job being composed and calm through much of the debate but still came off strong and with passion on trade and foreign policy. I felt that Trump became tired towards the last 1/3 of the debate. He definitely needed to prep more for the debate. Trump is a quick learner and will use this as a learning experience. Overall Trump showed people that he can be restrained when he wants to be and not come offf as a “crazy guy.”
She came off as strong and well-studied on the issues. You could tell that she prepared for this debate. She had momentum throughout much of the debate and that gave her the ability to put Trump on the defensive. The issues she was strong on were foreign policy, race relations and pointing out Trump’s business practices.
She articulated why the United States has supported NATO for decades. She effectively pointed out why we need NATO and how that is an important organization. She articulated the knowledge of the nuisances of foreign policy and how Trump’s rhetoric can bring unsuitability. She also articulated how Trump’s fiery rhetoric would hurt our efforts to work with allies to combat terrorism.
She hammered Trump on the stop and frisk issue. Trump most likely adopted this position from former mayor Rudy Giuliani. His lack of articulating the policy and defending its effectiveness opened the door for Hillary to label him a racist. If he would have explained the stop and frisk program in New York as Rudy had after the debate, it would not have come off as badly as Hillary made it out to be.
Hillary’s answer of working with the community and police to bring about reforms in the criminal justice system looked way better in comparison to Trump stumbling over himself trying to explain stop and frisk.
Lastly, Hillary illustrated that Trump’s business dealings really hit his image among working class voters. She was able to paint a picture of Trump as a sleazy business man who shortchanged and cheated blue collar-workers. The democrats did the same thing to Romney with effectiveness. It also planted the seed into the mind of the voters that he would do the same thing to them as he has done to those he does business with.
After 90 minutes of back and forth, what was the debate outcome? Nothing! Everyone that watched wasted 90 minutes of their lives. They will never ever get those 90 minutes back! The evening was primed and pumped to be a barn burner but what we got was an anticlimactic debate that was slow and boring. It was a debate of missed opportunities, both candidates let opportunities slip by that they could have used to score political points against the other. Maybe that was due to the boring and slow nature of the debate, which was to Hillary’s advantage. Trump had his moments but appeared unable to gain any momentum because he was kept on the defensive.
Both candidates played to their bases and rarely said anything that would appeal to the undecided voters. While Hillary was strong on details and polices she did come off as robotic as times. Not only that but you could see her thinking and calculating her answers which plays into the disdain voters have for politicians in this election cycle. It also made her appear scripted. on the opposite side, Trump proved that he could restrain himself and connected better with the viewers. We are in the middle of a voter revolt where everything is being turned upside down on its head. As we have seen in past debates, trying to analyze Trump through normal political means have proven unreliable and useless.
One final note, Lester Holt did a somewhat poor job as moderator, in my opinion. He wouldn’t allow Trump to respond to Hilary’s attacks uninterrupted. He constantly kept interjecting himself into the debate by correcting Trump before he had a chance to explain anything. Now while Trump does stretch the truth a lot, I am not surprised that Lester Holt kept fact checking him. But give the candidate time to explain himself without interruption.
I think the debate was a draw. Hillary won if you based your assessment on detailed answers and knowledge of policy. However, if you based it on who connected better with the average person, then Trump won. This debate left viewers feeling very unfulfilled and wanting. Due to the time constraints both candidates couldn’t go into too much detail with any effectiveness.
Robert J. Garrison is a political and religious writer for The Systems Scientist. You can connect with him directly in the comments section, follow him on Twitter or on Facebook, or catch up on his articles in the Archives.
Photo credit: C-Span
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