Top 10 Takeaways from the First Presidential Debate
1. Evidently, Lester Holt had no intention of keeping time during this debate. On every single question he let the candidates talk over him. To me that was a sign that he had no control in the debate and the candidates were able to behave in any way they wanted. Not a big critique, for certain, but important to point out nonetheless. He was out of his comfort zone and it showed.
2. Hillary Clinton taught me the latest campaign strategy: when in doubt, *shoulder shake*. Throughout the debate it was clear that Secretary Clinton is not the best at thinking on her feet. She had calculated responses to what Donald Trump said, but they came off as rehearsed and were slightly painful to watch. It was all too clear that she was trying to bait him into responding with his classic abrasive rants, but I was impressed to see that Trump didn’t fall into too many of those traps.
3. Let’s take a look at Trump’s claim that it was smart of him to get out of paying federal taxes. Probably an off-hand comment that he now regrets saying but there are two ways we can look at it: he needs to pay his “fair share”, as Clinton claims and his revenue will help fund policies that Clinton has yet to enact OR he used loopholes in our laws that already exist to run the most successful business possible. We must remind ourselves that first and foremost, Trump is a businessman, not a politician, and in America capitalism is king. If we want to change the laws so businesses can’t do that, our congressmen are more than welcome to. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: they never will because they get their funding from people like Trump.
4. There was only one question about cyber. Let’s take that in for a brief moment. We are in a world that is increasingly being defined by cyber-capabilities and technological advances but during the presidential debate there was only one question. If that wasn’t a large enough problem, the two candidates appeared to have no real grasp on what the word “cyber” actually encompasses. Instead we heard chit-chat about Russia and buzzwords about who might be involved in cyber attacks. Where were their insights on how to bolster our cyber defense infrastructure? All I saw were two older people who have little to no grasp on the cyber world.
5. One of Hillary’s best digs at Donald: “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.” This election has been riddled with people blasting anti-establishment rhetoric. But the one big thing Clinton has going for her is that she has experience in the political arena (how we would define that experience is another conversation). We are so quick to forget that politicians dedicate their lives to studying this field and working towards something far greater than themselves. It takes sacrifice, it takes dedication, and it takes perseverance. Trump is a wild card because he lacks this experience.
6. Make America Great Again AKA “MAGA” only made a brief appearance towards the end of the debate. A phrase that has become comedic in many circles, has been Trump’s rallying call during his campaign. I was expecting to hear it a lot more, but once again was impressed that Trump refrained from overusing it. Trump was relatively reserved, except for key instances when Clinton brought the attacks to the personal level by saying he was “living in his own reality” or that he was “crazy”. The mud-slinging was in true form last night.
7. There was an instance where the two candidates were “discussing” the Iran deal and Trump started saying China should solve the North Korea problem for us and that Iran is involved in that issue as well. Then he brought up “Yemen and all these other places”. I was unaware that the debate had turned into a Geography Bee. While those states are key players in their respective regions and have arguably dangerous intentions…Trump threw away his opportunity to showcase his understanding of their dynamic relationships. Instead, the viewers were lost in a sea of blanket statements that are less than impressive.
8. Clinton continues to claim that she “became secretary of state, [when] Iran was weeks away from having enough nuclear material to form a bomb”. This is the most absurd claim I have ever heard. This has been debunked time and time again, yet she insists on overplaying her role as Secretary of State. This is almost as bad as the “sniper-fire” incident. In fact, most of what she said about Iran last night was a litany of lies. I can only assume her fact-checker didn’t catch that.
9. Taking a look at their body language, I would say that both candidates were not acting like their “true selves”. What I mean by this is simple: Trump was trying to restrain himself and act “presidential” versus his usual bombastic personality and Hillary was trying to smile and look likable and relatable versus her usual stoic manner. Trump later claimed “I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know? …I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win.” Now, I’m not sure what a winning temperament is but we will just let that quote hang in the air for a bit for you to decide how you feel about that.
10. The biggest flop, in my opinion, was the responses on a strategy against ISIS. Clinton claimed tech companies need to prevent terrorists from using the Internet for radicalization. That is just not possible. I don’t know what fairyland she happens to be living in, but it is definitely not the reality that the rest of the world is in. She then said that Trump had supported the war in Iraq but there is plenty of footage proving otherwise. A definite slip for Secretary Clinton. Trump focused more on attacking Clinton’s plans then presenting any of his own ideas; except for asserting we should have taken the oil when we had the chance. I am unimpressed and not confident that either candidate truly has a grasp on how deeply ISIS has infiltrated our society. This is a real and present danger, and we do not have the leadership to thwart this threat.
All quotes from the debate are taken from a transcript published by The Washington Post.