We’ve seen three debates and for what it’s worth (which I know isn’t much), here’s my analysis. Take it with how ever many grains of salt (preferably nicely arranged on a margarita glass) you need.
- Clinton usually answered the questions she was asked. Trump usually didn’t. He tried to pivot away and make the point he wanted to make even when it wasn’t a question about his, um, colorful past.
- Trump interrupted less as the debates wore on but his facial expressions were enough to terrify small and not so small children. I feared his face was going to break from the scowl. When Clinton attacked the things he said or did he looked like he was about to become apoplectic. By comparison, she usually looked fairly comfortable and relaxed.
- Trump has serious issues with reality. Through three debates he’s consistently denied saying things there is plenty of video showing he said over the years. How someone can live in such a state of denial is beyond me. People used to talk about the Steve Jobs reality distortion field but he had nothing on Trump (although Steve was actually better at getting people to believe him).
- I think Trump’s reference to the “Obama regime” is telling. Regime is a word usually associated with dictators. I don’t think he was trying to cast Obama as a dictator (at least that’s not how it sounded from context). I think he thinks of presidential administrations as regimes. And that says how he would view his own presidency. That scares me more than a little.
- Trump is clearly willing to say anything without any supporting evidence. Most of the accusations he threw at Clinton were obvious fabrications. Either he believes these things (and given his penchant for quoting conspiracy theories maybe he does) or he is unfettered by ethical considerations. Either way that makes him dangerous.
- I expect a politician’s views to evolve over time. After all as we learn more, our views should adapt to that knowledge. Trump’s views change faster than some people change underwear. You can find video of Trump contradicting both his own words and those of his campaign representatives of dozens of topics usually within days or weeks.
- I think Trump’s denial of sexual assault is also telling. He attacked the accusers and then basically said they weren’t pretty enough to bother with. I had talked with others about this sort of denial earlier this week where he basically admitted that he could do something like that if they met his standards and was glad to see Clinton bring it up. Whenever Trump is challenged on anything he attacks the challenger and not to deal with the substance of the challenge.
- His “apology” for his talk of sexual assault with Billy Bush was not an apology at all. He tried to downplay the significance and said it wasn’t him but it matches decades of his own recorded words on the way he treats women.
- I think both are wrong on healthcare. Insurance is the wrong model for something you know you will have to use. At that point it’s not insurance. It’s just a middleman creating inefficiency in the system. I’m not sure what the perfect healthcare system is but it probably looks more like a single payer system than our current model. Think of the entraprenurial spirit that could be unleashed if people were free to take the risk of starting a company if they didn’t have to worry about health care for their families!
- Overall Clinton responded to most questions with substantive answers (at least to the degree a two minute answer allows). Trump kept saying “bigly,” “tremendous” and “disaster”. I want to know the president has a plan that is more than a slogan.
- Trump’s tax plan actually hurts lower class and middle class families but is incredibly generous to corporations and the wealthy. Clintons actually helps middle and lower class families. Trump’s trickle down theories does just that. It shuts the economy down to a trickle based on the experience of the Reagan/Bush years.
- Trump was almost incapable of not getting the last word. I lost track of the number of times he would not let the moderator continue when Clinton was supposed to be the final speaker.
- Clinton showed us how easy it is to get under Trump’s skin. He goes to extraordinary lengths to try to justify himself even when there is no defense. The one time he apologized for something he did, he then undercut his own apology. I have seen five year olds who were less easily provoked than Trump.
- Trump’s love of Putin and other dictators and his methods shows that he doesn’t understand what it is to be our president and what democracy is about.
- And lastly, his rhetoric about rigged elections and not accepting the results when he loses is dangerous. He may just be posturing because he needs to justify to himself that this is the only way he could be beaten by a woman, but even if that’s all it is, is dangerous. There are many people who will take his words and use them to act. Trump himself could be the cause of the radicalizing of a disenchanted group of Americans. He could be planting the seeds that lead to domestic terrorism. Whatever his motivations for this rhetoric, it is dangerous and only serves to undermine our political system.
Over three debates I found Clinton to be the reasoned, calm voice and Trump to be the voice of hysteria. This isn’t to say that Clinton is perfect. She is probably the most investigated person ever to run for president. But think about it: all those investigations by her most potent political enemies and they couldn’t find any criminal behavior, Ever. And they were trying really, really hard. She may not be a saint but she is certainly no devil. Trump has shown no signs of being anything other than Putin-lite.