In a world of rational actors, last night’s Presidential debate ended the 2016 Presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton, a woman whom I once loathed, proved that she has the knowledge, experience, and temperament to serve as President of the United States of America. Donald Trump showed that he is a brittle, easily baited, ill-informed narcissist who cannot be trusted to keep America safe.
On race and police relations, Clinton promised to include in her first budget funding for training programs that police chiefs are asking for to help police deal with racial bias and mental health. She also expanded to call for ending private prisons, implementing comprehensive background checks for gun buyers, and banning individuals on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. NRA-endorsed Trump ceded the latter point, advocated the unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policy to take people’s guns away, but otherwise mostly just growled “law and order.” Implicitly flipping Trump’s occasional sally that Clinton’s comments were “all words,” Clinton responded by saying we can’t just say “law and order”:
Too many young African-American and Latino men ended up in jail for nonviolent offenses. And it’s just a fact that if you’re a young African-American man and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated. So we’ve got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. We cannot just say law and order. We have to say — we have to come forward with a plan that is going to divert people from the criminal justice system, deal with mandatory minimum sentences, which have put too many people away for too long for doing too little [Hillary Clinton, first 2016 Presidential debate, as transcribed by Washington Post, 2016.09.26].
On cybersecurity, Clinton said we need to strengthen countermeasures against independent hacking groups motivated mostly by money and the growing amount of state-sponsored cyber attacks. Donald Trump said his ten-year-old son is “so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable.”
On foreign policy, Clinton turned to the global audience and assured them that the United States will honor its mutual defense treaties. “Our word is good,” Clinton said, clearly contrasting herself with Trump’s willingness to abandon NATO allies over financial disagreements and his chronic stiffing of his own contractors. Clinton defended the Iran nuclear deal as a brilliant example of diplomacy, enlisting global rivals in an effort to rein in Iran without firing a shot. She contrasted that diplomacy with Trump’s wild promise to fire on Iranian soldiers for merely taunting U.S. Navy ships. “That would not start a war,” Trump interrupted, but… seriously? Opening fire on another nation’s military is kind of the definition of launching a war.
Asked about his comment that Hillary Clinton lacks a “Presidential look,” a question a wiser candidate would handled with brief contrition pivoting to assertions of respect for women and a discussion of his daughter’s platform of women’s equality (no matter how false), Trump committed four errors:
- Trump stuck with his sexist claim that somehow Clinton’s looks will prevent her from conducting foreign policy.
- Trump further questioned Clinton’s “stamina,” another sexist insult, which Clinton deftly parried by appealing to her global experience and co-opting the infamous Benghazi hearing as a further proof of stamina.
- Trump responded to Clinton’s citation of his sexist and racist comments he leveled on a Miss Universe by asserting that because Rosie O’Donnell was “very vicious” to him, “I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her,” showing he thinks some women deserve misogyny and showing that he will manufacture an imaginary consensus to justify his failings.
- Trump suggested that he has nobly refrained from saying “something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family,” despite the “hundreds of millions of dollars” Clinton has spent on false ads against him, demonstrating that when confronted with evidence of inappropriate behavior, Trump is the incorrigible and spoiled schoolboy who cries, “Have not! You have!”
Clinton put Trump on defense numerous times, and Trump obliged with various clueless and self-absorbed responses that would crush any normal candidacy. Clinton noted Trump’s 2012 declaration that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to hinder America’s manufacturing competitiveness. Trump denied he had ever said that, and Twitter erupted with screen caps of Trump’s 2012 statement. Clinton suggested that one rational explanation for Trump’s tradition-bucking refusal to release his tax returns is that maybe he hasn’t paid any income tax lately, Trump said, “That makes me smart.” Clinton cited Trump’s six bankruptcies as an example of how “sometimes there’s not a direct transfer of skills from business to government” and how “sometimes what happened in business would be really bad for government,” and, taking the bait, Trump said, “I take advantage of the laws of the nation.”
Add Trump’s continual reference to his properties and wealth, and we come away from last night’s debate with a clear picture of Donald Trump as a narcissist consumed with looks and money.
Review Clinton’s regular, steady responses; her description of problems and her prescriptions for solutions; and her regular expression of concern for others, here and abroad, and we see a woman who is ready to lead the free world.
Yes, I’m over my 1990s anti-Clinton Republicanism. Hillary Clinton deserves to be our next President.