Trump ‘temperament’ implodes for all to see
The audience members in the first presidential debate weren’t the only ones laughing at GOP nominee Donald Trump. So was nearly anyone else watching on TV. Except perhaps for his immediate family members and his campaign staff, who likely were cringing.
After spending most of the debate lying, mocking, whining, interrupting, gulping water, and sniffling, the Orange Menace actually uttered the words, “I have the best temperament” to be president.
What American voters saw in the debate was a candidate prepared to step onto the world stage, lead the country in facing its multiple challenges, and act as commander-in-chief. The other was Donald Trump.
It’s no secret that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton knows her stuff, and knows how to be ready. The run-up to the debate from media pundits was that, because expectations would be lower for Trump, he would “win” if he controlled himself and scored some points against her (which he likely did in the beginning, talking about trade). Clinton supporters complained that Trump would be graded on a curve.
A curve? As one commentator put it, “She got an A-minus and he got a gentleman’s D.”
Trump even claimed in the spin room afterword that his microphone was “defective.” On Fox & Friends the next morning, he denied that he sniffled. He disowned statements he made in the debate within hours, such as his cavalier comment on not paying taxes (“It made me look smart”). And that doesn’t even count his denials on previous statements about climate change, birtherism, and so, so many more.
“Presidential debate shows you never bring a Cheeto to a knife fight,” wrote Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke. His conclusion on how recent polls have showed a tightened race and how Trump’s dismal debate performance might stop that trend: “Trumpus interruptus.”
What people who have been wrapped up in this reality-show-like campaign often forget is that there are Americans who have yet to pay much attention to Trump or Clinton. For a good swath of the millions upon millions who watched the debate, this was a first look at Trump and Clinton in action.
That doesn’t bode well for Trump. Clinton sliced and diced him, lured him into traps, knowing his fragile ego can’t handle criticism.
And speaking of “interruptus”: We’ve all become accustomed to Trump’s bluster, walking all over his opponents, yelling loudly to get his points across, and interrupting others when they’re speaking, whether it’s a Democratic or Republican opponent or a member of the media. How did everyone do last night? According to a story in Vox, Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times, while she interrupted him 17 times. “It was a pretty stunning display, even for Trump,” the story said. “Counting the interruptions of both candidates by moderator Lester Holt, Clinton was interrupted a total of 70 times, and Trump was interrupted 47 times.”
Which shouldn’t surprise any woman in America — or anywhere. “There is no working woman in America who doesn’t recognize the pattern of interruption that Trump is using against Clinton,” tweeted author Laila Lalami.
So it’s one debate down, and three to go. The vice presidential debate is Oct. 4. The next two presidential debates are Oct. 9 and Oct. 19. At least Trump has nowhere to go but up … right?
Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani suggested that Trump might bow out. Of course, he blamed moderator Lester Holt, not the poor performance of his candidate. “If I were Donald Trump, I wouldn’t participate in another debate unless I was promised the journalist would act like a journalist, and not an ignorant fact check,” Giuliani said. Well, when your candidates tanks as badly as he did, you’ve got to blame somebody else.
Will all of this make any difference when people cast their ballots? It’s likely that die-hard Trump supporters, who haven’t minded his blatant lying and unpreparedness up to now, won’t feel any different about their candidate. A three-person voter panel speaking on NPR the morning after the debate (really, NPR? That’s your definition of analysis?) featured a Trump supporter who said his candidate “did what he needed to do.”
More telling, however, was the Clinton backer who is now fully on board with her candidate. “I am no longer a reluctant supporter of Hillary Clinton.” I have a feeling we’re going to hear a lot more of that sentiment in the weeks to come.