2016 Presidential Debate #1, Trump v. Clinton (Hofstra): Live Blog

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

9:00PM EST at Hofstra University. That’s almost now! Here are some “viewing options”. NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt is the moderator. All the questions will come from Holt (it’s not a town hall). There will be six 15-minute segments over the course of 90 minutes with no commercial breaks.

The television audience is expected to top the record of 80.6 million TV viewers set in 1980 for the Reagan v. Carter; some say 100 million. So Trump, with 14 years of television experience, should be soaring. It’s the biggest night of his life! (“Trump took to his TV role as if he’d spent his life preparing for it.”)

Some notes on the Hofstra venue: Audience members have been instructed to remain quiet; it will be Trump’s “first time debating in front of a completely silent audience” (if they remain silent). The size of the audience has not been disclosed, but a third of the tickets go to the campaigns, another third to the host, and the final third to the Commission on Presidential Debates, to be distributed among members of the organizing group, sponsors and local VIPs (what a racket). However, Hofstra is running a lottery where 300 students will get tickets. That suggests an audience of around 900. (The Hofstra site says “All tickets allocated to Hofstra University from the Commission on Presidential Debates will be distributed via lottery to current students,” so it looks like administrators and VIPs aren’t getting any. Laudable, if true.)

* * *
I think there’s even less reason than usual to try gaming this out; there are w-a-a-a-a-a-a-y too many imponderables, and in any case we’ll know soon enough! Did readers settle on a drinking game, or are there several?

Please add your comments as the debate proceeds!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. ChiGal in Carolina

    Weird that today both links and cooler gave error messages (and still do) but this I can get.

    Thx for doing this, Lambert, I don’t think I could bear to watch without it – I already feel kinda nauseous and panicky – maybe cuz I wish they would BOTH lose

    1. John Zelnicker

      I also got error messages a couple of times today, but they didn’t last. I think the traffic is occasionally overwhelming the site servers. Having trouble posting this now.

      Now it’s working. If you have trouble, keep trying.

    2. Tvc15

      I’m also receiving an error message saying the web server is down, but I’m okay on another browser. Thanks for providing an outlet for sanity.

      1. Charger01

        I’ve been maintaining my sanity by reading NC on my way back from Wyoming. I’ve been having loading problems on my phone, as well.

  2. John k

    Can’t stand listening to these guys, but fortified with a glass of cab, and with more at the ready, and then one step removed by reading Nc comments, I might get thru this.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Radio silence is all I’m getting here. What I myself would say is she is coming off better than he is – she seems LESS tense than when debating Bernie and he can’t control his impulsivity

  3. johnnygl

    80-100M is crazy!!!

    HA Goodman cracked me up when he said trump will win “as long as he doesn’t bite the head off a live pigeon”.

    He may have a point, clinton has been running endless scare ads against him and a lot of people don’t go look at his speeches on the internet. Once they get a look at a guy who seems relatively sane, they may go trump.

    1. ChrisPacific

      …trump will win “as long as he doesn’t bite the head off a live pigeon”.

      So about 50/50 then?

    1. ProNewerDeal

      barefoot charley, are you OK right now? I am concerned that you may have suffered alcohol poisoning.

  4. Kokuanani

    All Trump has to do to win is ask, “Do you want to listen to [this bitch] for 4 years?”

    Clinton’s voice — at least in the pre-show “I’m ready to debate Donald Trump” clip, is horrendous.

    I am not watching, only following here. Thankfully, there’s a football game for my amusement.

  5. Foy

    Trump’s tie is a calming blue – first good move. Clinton’s bright red pant suit is already hurting my eyes.

    1. Charger01

      Her voice hurts my soul. I’m watching the play-by-play on twitter. ATL & NO are playing right now, second quarter and they’re tied. It’s much more enjoyable.

  6. Skippy

    If you mix Trumps tie and Hillary’s pantsuit together… do you get Tyrian purple – Royal Purple – Imperial Purple or Imperial Dye – ????????

    Disheveled Marsupial…. ummm… it is a secretion produced by several species of predatory sea snails in the family Muricidae, ieeeeee…..

  7. Pavel

    I lasted 15 mins and I’m out (though I’m in EU and it’s 3am). I look forward to reading the comments later. Honestly the sound of either voice makes me ill

    Trump sounded odd (sniffling?) and looked awkward reaching for that glass of water. Why oh why did HRC choose that bright red outfit?

    1. likbez

      I feel your pain ;-)

      Both are incoherent as for key problem facing the USA — the jobs creation problem. None mentioned the secular stagnation of the US economy. This is the stupor into which neoliberalism pushed all the major economies. And it is unclear what to do to. Doing Reagan trick might not work (15% flat tax).

      None mentioned the problem of “peak (or plato” oil which is another skeleton in the closet. The current low price might be the key factor that prevents the US economy from sliding into negative growth. If price goes back to around $100 all bets on recovery are off (Obama might manage to leave the office before sh*t hit the fan).

      Trump concentrated on tax cuts way too much. they might help (if tax avoidance is fought with iron fist and loopholes and tax heavens are completely closed), but they are not panacea. He also suggested making offshoring less attractive by using tariffs.

      But I like how he hit Clinton for Middle East adventures. for which neocons in the two last administrations wasted 6 trillion. For which the USA could rebuild the crumbling infrastructure (and create a lot of jobs doing this). But he is not proposing to cut military budget.

      Clinton promoted status quo with some emphasis on social programs (achieving equal pay for women, etc) but none addresses the problems of excessive financialization that brought us 2008.

  8. Lambert Strether

    Amazingly, Clinton is claiming credit for climbing out of the Great Financial crisis while saying she doesn’t want to return to the failed policies of the past….

    They started interrupting each other…. Exchange on trade, where Clinton claimed Trump was living in his own reality when he claimed Bill Clinton signed NAFTA…

    Clinton good on trickledown, however. “Wealthy people want to make the contribution to help rebuild middle class.” (!!)

    Both terrible on the Federal deficit.

    * * *

    Clinton: I’m going to be blamed for everything

    Trump: Why not?

    Clinton: [hits crazy button]

    Trump: Nothing crazy about bringing jobs back

    1. different clue

      I did not see the debate. I was at work. Is Clinton claiming that Bill “did not sign NAFTA” another example of her better-than-Nixon lawyerly cleverness? Is she referring to the Bush signing of it prior to Congress acting on it? Does she have a different shyster-term for Clinton’s signing the Congressional Passage of it? Is that the oh-so-lawyerly distinction she is making?

      And was Trump not smart enough to see what she did there? And therefor not smart enough to have asked her “well . . . who signed it then?”

  9. Kurt Sperry

    Ugh. They are both terrible, but Trump is just a lower breed of snake oil salesman. I thought “trickle down” was long discredited but “there you go again, I guess”. Trump’s landed a couple of glancing blows but he’s *horrible* thus far for me.

  10. Pat

    Find it interesting that chrome aka Google had NC down. From 5 comments in. Had to download a different browser. Not gonna watch, but someone else on the bus is streaming. Hearing lots of talk about trickle down. Thinking that should have been part of the drinking game. And was there a brief shining moment during her term when the trade deficit decreased? Because I must have missed it.
    Oh and Hillary you couldn’t know how TPP changed, if it did, after you left office touting it as the gold standard, not unless someone illegally leaked it to you. You did not legally have access to it once you left office.

  11. Lambert Strether

    Trump: I’ll release my tax returns when she releases her 33,000 emails [audience cheers, Holt admonishes them].

    Clinton: No prohibition on releasing tax audit. Is he as rich? Is he as charitable? Who does he owe money to? Or maybe he hasn’t paid anything? That’s what NJ tax showed in casino licence [Trump: Makes me smart]

    Clinton VERY well-prepared on this one. “There’s something he’s hiding.”

  12. timotheus

    Would Trump be bragging about “earning” $680 million last year if Bernie Sanders were at the other podium?

  13. John Zelnicker

    Lots of trouble accessing this site.

    Hillary needs to stop calling Trump’s statements “inaccurate” and call him out as a liar.

    Is Trump’s FEC filing made under penalties of perjury? If not, they are worthless.

  14. Joe Firestone

    Trump is New York power-mouthing Hillary, talking like a college kid in a hot argument. Hillary can’t handle this style of argument. It’s pure New York, she never learned it.

    Does this mean Hillary loses. I don’t know, it depends on whether it totally alienates women and men who view Trump’s performance from the point of view of a man talking over a woman. If that’s the way they view then Trump will lose the debate according to the post-debate polling.

    On the cognitive side, Trump was very strong on trade, and Hillary had no convincing replies in my view. I think she should have thrown Bill Clinton under the bus and said that she made positive statements about NAFTA because she had a duty as first lady to support her husband, but that she never really supported it, nor does she support NAFTA-like agreements now.

    Hillary’s beginning to come back now. Hitting Trump on his weaknesses. Good attack on his refusals to pay people.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I think Clinton is handling it well. She’s up for this. Yes, the refusal to pay the little guys was good.

    2. different clue

      A lot of non New Yorkers find that New York power-mouthing culture to be vile and nasty and disgusting and filthy. And dirty, loutish and low. If there are any such people in the TV audience, they may well be repelled by Trump’s New Yorkish behavior if he really is doing what you say he is doing.

      1. Tony Wright

        New York Power Mouth? Is that what you call it? Hmm, from where I sit he just looks and sounds like a rude ,
        bullying A…… And six times bankrupt after being given a$14 million leg up from his father? Now that’s who you want to really run the place into the ground…

  15. Yves Smith

    I have no idea how voters will take this. Trump is super simplistic and Hillary did a good job of skewering him on trickle down economics and his tax breaks for the rich. And his saying she’s been fighting ISIS her entire life was presumably a joke of sorts (as in meant to say she’s exaggerated everything she’s ever done) but the media will treat this as literal and a foot in mouth and chew moment.

    But her forced smile is infuriating. I want to punch her. So I come away annoyed with him as not being able to go beyond simple sloganeering (and wondering if that really is all he has, or whether he has one one gear for selling and can’t sell anything complicated, or didn’t do enough debate prep), and even more annoyed with her smugness and much better packaged dodges.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Much less forced than when debating Bernie. He isn’t coming off well, I agree. Her points are good, too bad she has no integrity behind them

    2. JaaaaayCeeeee

      Hillary Clinton had some excellent prepared zingers. But she shied away from police oversight, did not talk about (nor was asked about) poverty or immigration, and after her well crafted zinger about when she would listen to his judgement about stamina (after he’s done peace deals, anti-nuke deals, and 12 hour hearings on Benghazi) she didn’t know when to stop, instead going on to “he said…” about women.

      I liked a tweet that this country really would be exceptional, if Clinton were the Republican candidate and Bernie the Democratic candidate.

    3. Emma

      I think one has to be extremely careful of what was for the most part, a slanging match, where one opponent, despite being articulate, detail-oriented, and allegedly well-prepared, came face-to-face with an unpracticed opponent, somewhat incoherent and simplistic in his approach, but surprisingly capable of hitting home runs.
      What may serve well for privileged class interests, may not for that of the wider population. Clinton should avoid making the mistake of dismissing or ridiculing her opponent. One cannot, not now so late in the game at a point where things are neck and neck, underestimate Trumps’ ability to master Clintons’ (and her campaign managers….), thus far, unactualized technique to conclusively handle him with diplomacy.

  16. Joe Firestone

    Lester Holt seems totally incapable of keeping to schedule. Now he acknowledges that they are behind schedule. Holt also makes explicit assumption that one of them will be president. Probably true, but there are some assumptions moderators ought to avoid.

  17. cm

    I tried replying to John Zelnicker’s message. I’m getting Cloudflare on a regular basis (browsing w/ PaleMoon) so I don’t think is browser-specific.

    1. John Zelnicker

      So am I, but it’s been better for the past few minutes.

      But now it’s happening again.

      Got it, maybe.

  18. Lambert Strether

    Trump: “Law and order. If we don’t have that, we don’t have a country.”

    Just got the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police.

    Trump: “Inner cities are living in hell. In Chicago, thousands of shooting. [Is this a war zone?]. Stop and frisk, a la NY, take gun away. Gangs, in many cases illegal immigrants, have guns. Right now our police are afraid to do anything. African American communities are being devestated.”

    Holt: Stop and frisk declared unconstitutional, racial profiling

    Trump: You’re wrong [blames judge]

    Trump: Need to take guns away from bad people. Need more police. Need better community relations. It’s terrible in Chicago. I have property there.”

    (This was actually the sort of appeal that Clinton made in the 90s….)

    1. Yves Smith

      Stunning that he advocated stop and frisk, and this was in a response to a question on how to heal the racial divide. I don’t see how Trump recovers from this, at least as far as wining votes of people of color are concerned (not blacks, he was never going to get them, but he had a shot at Hispanics). And this is contrary to what seemed to be his recent strategy of toning down the racist dog whistles so as to reassure white voters that they weren’t voting for a racist.

        1. AEF

          He is going after white suburban women. The dog whistles are for them. If he can get 10% of the black vote he wins.

  19. Joe Firestone

    Trump is now playing the law’n order card. Even mentioned Giuliani. Trump is now refusing to recognize that “stop-and-frisk” was ruled unconstitutional when Holt brings it up. He then talks about bad community relations. Talks over Holt when he wants to shift over to Clinton’s talking on the issue.

    Clinton finally gets in and starts talking about Black communities, moves to stop-and-frisk and then fails to call Trump out by saying that stop-and-frisk is not going to improve the community relations that Trump talks about improving. Clinton then moves to helping the situation by having better gun control, and calls for legislating it in a bipartisan way. Hah! How’s that working for us?

    1. Anonymous

      Stop and frisk is not unconstitutional. It’s ‘Terry’ and has been the law since 1965. One judge in New York declared it unconstitutional, but her finding would likely have been overturned on appeal had De Blasio pursued it.

      I believe there is a constituency in poor black communities for ‘stop and frisk.’ The older, more vulnerable people. The property owners who are too poor or ornery to leave their neighborhoods, which have declined as more upwardly mobile African-Americans have left.

  20. Anne

    Hate to admit this, but I think Clinton is landing a lot of punches; Trump is coming across as a floridly egotistical blowhard.

    And the Trump “sniff” is as annoying as the Gore “sigh.”

    Trump is just talking out of his ass.

      1. Richard

        WRONG! Do the voters really want to elect someone who couldn’t even be bothered to campaign for their votes (actually, she was/is sick, nothing to do with ‘preparing’).
        She’s basically saying, “I don’t want to waste my time campaigning for the votes of you scum when I need to bone up on becoming PRESIDENT!” Why didn’t she know all this stuff before the debate, anyway? It takes a debate for her to do her homework?? Backfired completely, if you ask me.

        1. jrs

          Yea I thought Trump came out good there, talking about talking to actual people on the campaign trail, you know we the people in this so called democracy (haha), rather than just “her majesty is prepared”.

          1. MojaveWolf

            Yes. She came off as a petulant child with that comment, as bad as any of the stuff people were mocking Trump for; had a flashback to some of the nastier “snotty child royalty” moments from Game of Thrones. Really shocked anyone liked it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yep, I noticed the sniff. It went away, and now it’s back.

      And Clinton is landing punches. She’s well-prepared and making good choices. (I think blowhard is tomato v. tomahto. I don’t know a lot of New York real estate people who went into the casino business with 14 years on television who are shy and retiring. And if I had to decided which voice I had to listen to on the TV and radio for eight years… I’d have to give it some thought.

      On talking out of their ass…. Blaming the great financial crash on trickle down economics? Pins the meter.

      1. Anne

        Not a big fan of Clinton’s voice, either, but she doesn’t sound like a lunatic, which I think gets her some points.

        Trump’s skin is so thin it won’t allow him to let anything go if there’s a chance someone might think he wasn’t the most brilliant, beautiful, successful man on the planet. I get that all politicians have egos dialed up higher than those of us mere mortals, but someone with an ego that won’t allow him ever to keep his own counsel is too big a risk for us to take.

        Wish I liked Clinton more, but Trump is so bad she ends up looking not so terrible.

    2. Jerry Denim

      The constant prominent sniff made me think he may have decided to prep for the debate with a little pre-game come. Super Tony Montana. Fits his ganster/bully persona and his debate style.

      1. cyclist

        As I sit here blowing my nose over breakfast, it could just be hay fever from ragweed, starting about now.
        Antihistamines aren’t always that effective.

  21. Quanka

    I am trying to throw out my own expectations here — which candidate is doing a better job of connecting with people they havent connected with yet? HRC is so annoying, her aloof and better-than-though attitude makes me seeth, but Trump is also just spouting jibberish.

      1. Anne

        I still can’t get over that Trump thinks he “won” on the birther thing because he got Obama to produce the birth certificate, and Hillary didn’t. He seems unable to understand that the issue was that he questioned the president’s citizenship, and encouraged the myth that Obama isn’t a citizen, not who could get Obama to produce proof.

        I think she also scored some points on Trump’s taxes.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Let’s face it, we all “lost” on the so-called “birther” issue. As if that has even the tiniest bearing on the problems we are facing.
          Trump had one fat pitch after the other and he whiffed.
          “The secretary sold the business of our government to the highest bidders for immense personal gain in her private Foundation. If I am elected I promise such illegal acts and the many others we’ve seen recently will be prosecuted”. Now THAT’s a “law and order” argument.

    1. Roger Smith

      She needed to restate why that was a zinger. I didn’t catch what she was referencing and I doubt most viewers did either.

  22. chicagobear

    Yes, it’s terrible here in Chicago… in the areas where the police don’t bother to do their job and have abandoned to the gangs. Or the areas where the cops just go in occasionally and shoot people when they feel like it. (Pretty much the same ones.)

    Not so much crime (at least, street crime) on the Magnificent Mile or nearby at Trump Tower Chicago.

    Yes, it’s true, people get around Chicago’s gun ordinances buy bringing in guns from elsewhere. And as an aside… the city seemingly messed up police reform in the 90s when it dismantled the units whose patrolmen/ women actually knew gang members and could, you know, talk to them.

    1. wombatpm

      90’s style Chicago policing has been biting us in the ass. Forced confessions and torture don’t really solve the gang problem.

      1. OIFVet

        And it digs deep into our pockets to pay the settlements. Jon Burge alone must have cost close to $100 mil and counting.

  23. John Zelnicker

    I don’t find Hillary’s voice all that bad. I haven’t listened to her before, but there is nothing wrong with the way she sounds now.

    Trump is beginning to sound just a wee bit desperate with some of his statements. His voice almost goes to falsetto.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      See Snowden for chillingly effective use of Clinton’s voice. Every one should see it, incredibly powerful

  24. Joe Firestone

    Trump claims he was endorsed by ICE. This is surely a blatant lie, since ICE is an agency of the federal government. Hasn’t been called on that by either Holt or Clinton.

    1. John Zelnicker

      @Joe Firestone – Apparently, he was endorsed by the union of immigration officers. I don’t think they understand how much additional work his plan to deport millions would mean for them.

      1. Dan F

        That additional work will need an influx of new union members to do it all. They know where their bread is buttered. The workload…bring it on!

    2. John Zelnicker

      Lambert – Thank you so much for doing this live blog. I have never participated, or even watched one. Great fun. Please do it for the other debates, if you have the stamina. :-)

      Dammit, this was not supposed to be a response to Joe. Connection issues. Kept getting Cloudflare errors. Apologies.

      1. Jeff N

        I was getting Cloudflare errors yesterday afternoon, I assumed the site was being DDOS’ed by Hilbots on “debate day”.

  25. Kurt Sperry

    Trump was wide open for his birther nonsense. That alone is nearly disqualifying by itself the level of stupid is so high. Birtherism is a pretty fair pass/fail criterium. Trump landed a blow when he said there’s no evidence Russia hacked the DNC and pointed to Clinton’s email hairball as more troubling.

  26. Cat Burglar

    Clinton adroitly maneuvered during her answer about the withdrawal from Iraq: failure to get the Structure of Forces Agreement with the Iraq government immunizing US troops from prosecution under Iraqi law was “an agreement protecting our troops” after the Nisoor Square massacre. Witting obfuscation done fast.

  27. johnnygl

    Clinton’s prob doing better. Trump is missing opportunites to hit back, especially on her judgement/track record. She does sound smug asking for the “fact-checkers” all the time.

    Wait…we’re talking about temperment?!?!! Real issues!!!

    1. Pat

      Just saw that before I switched. Fail. And from what little I saw she is enjoying this and is sure she has it. Despite the nonsense she was spouting about Iraq.

      She is better prepared.

  28. John Zelnicker

    Trump is lying about his support of the Iraq war and Lester Holt should be a bit more forceful in calling him out.

    Oooh, the audience response when he says he has a better temperament than Hillary. Nice.

    Hillary seems to be getting some hits in on the security questions.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Personally, I don’t care what Trump said in 2002. (But I’m so far above a 30,000-foot view on this thing I might as well be a Martian.) It’s enough for me that he says Iraq was a terrible idea and we should never have gone in there. Who else in the political class says that? (And no, Clinton’s “mistake” verbiage does not count.)

  29. MG

    Lester Holt is completely ineffectual and both candidates are run rough shod over time including talking repeatedly over him. Biggest loser tonight so far,

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The architecture of the debate was good, and that was down to Holt. He didn’t do well controlling the candidates. OTOH, the interplay between the two candidates was part of the story.

  30. lyman alpha blob

    Any Farscape fans out there? Does Trump remind anyone else of Rigel XVI ?

    I can’t believe that unless Giant Meteor 2016 shows up in the next few weeks one of these jackasses is going to win this thing.

    1. emptyfull

      Lolz. My nephew is coming over soon to watch Farscape with me. the only difference is that, once you get past his bluster, Rigel turns out to sometimes be a decent guy. But that would be an excellent show to mine for Trump -related memes.

  31. Cat Burglar

    She voted in favor of the Iraq sanctions? “We think it was worth it.”

    He is ready to build more nuclear weapons.

    1. jrs

      If they are so worried about nuclear weapons being the greatest threat we face maybe the U.S. should try reducing it’s stockpile. Enough to blow up the world how many times again?

  32. Kim Kaufman

    I’m trying to follow Twitter also and I don’t like Twitter too much but this popped up:

    Brad Friedman Retweeted
    Frank Luntz ‏@FrankLuntz 23m23 minutes ago
    So far, 17 people in my group say Hillary is winning; 3 say Trump. Tax question weakened him, birther question destroyed him. #DebateNight

      1. JaaaaayCeeeee

        Luntz was doing anti-Trump signalling tonight, with his most popular tweet a screenshot of a text message he said a GOP congressman sent him complaining about Clinton=screechy or somesuch, with Luntz tweeting that he told the congressman no, that Clinton looked presidential tonight.

  33. Lambert Strether Post author

    Trump raises the stamina issue; not smart, as Clinton is showing no stamina issues tonight.

    Clinton: “When Donald testifies for 11 hours, he can talk to me about stamina.”

    Trump: “Hillary has experience, but it’s bad experience.”

    1. jrs

      Well the “not going there” was obvious, Hillary was commenting on his opinions of women, yea real high opinion of women that man she’s married to has.

    2. rd

      Its not clear to me how somebody who has divorced twice, once after having had a full blown affair, would have anything worth listening to say about the Clinton’s marriage. I am sure Hillary would have a strong retort about the Marla Maples affair being played out in Congressional hearings and special prosecutor investigations.

  34. TomT

    I tried to watch earlier but had to bail after about 45 seconds, but I’ve really enjoyed reading the comments. Thanks for sticking with this, all of you, so that I could experience it vicariously from a safe (and more humorous) distance. My nerves are just a little too fragile for this sh*tshow — wish I was stronger, but I quit drinking a few months ago.

  35. SoCal Rhino

    I’ll take the other side. I predict he’ll gain in the polls after tonight.

    I’ll take generals and admirals over 50 hacks. Nafta. Is The trade deal Obama’s fault them? Everyone is robbing us blind. Lots of experience, all bad.

  36. HBE

    Trump got hammered his only decent jab was the 30 years to solve these issues point at the beginning, then he got worked over hard for the rest.

    1. Optimader

      A midair collision at best.
      I was done when hillary started lecturing on NATO being the longest running military alliance in history (what?!?) and we essentially need to institutionalize war (the long war, pick an enemy flavor of the day -Putin?, why)

      Trump seemed to understand the BHO admin enabled the creation of ISIS with an incoherent ME policy, but couldnt express it in a meaningful manner.

  37. Yves Smith

    I have to confess the debates gave me a headache (which I rarely get) and I could stand to watch only about 1/3. How are we gonna survive 4 years with either of them at the helm?

      1. PhilU

        I’m quite positive we won’t. Clinton’s Climate Plan will have us up 3C and 6 foot seas level rise by 2100. Trump’s will have us up 4C and 8-12 feet sea rise. Even a 1-2 foot rise will be enough for a world war to break out.

    1. Jerry Denim

      The fact that one of these absolutely awful humans is going to be our next President hit me hard tonight watching some of the debate. I had to punch out after half an hour, I couldn’t take it either. We are so f@#ked. I checked out of the horse race once Bernie endorsed, but my God I am going to have to smash my phone, my computer and my TV if I am going to keep living in the US after this election. How could anyone support either of these people? Lies, lies, damn lies and nonsense. Hillary is 100% lies all the time. Trump tells a few big exciting truths here and there but then muddles it all up with supply side economics, deregulatory libertarian poppy-cock and fascist law and order shtick. Heaven help us.

      1. chuck roast

        The despicable and the detestable. I fired up a bone before the “show” and laughed my way through it…slaves to a system created by slave owners.
        And so it goes…

  38. Kurt Sperry

    I thought Trump might do better. I have trouble believing anyone not already a fan of his would say he won tonight. Clinton was a little better than I expected, although the bar to clear was set low. It kills me it wasn’t Bernie up there vs. Trump though.

    1. Jim Haygood

      They agree that NATO has to surge into the Middle East and fight terrorism and defeat Isis.

      Recipe for disaster — Syria is just the trailer.

      Vote third party or don’t vote.

      1. OIFVet

        Yeah, I am voting third party. And I have a one way ticket to the Balkans. The Balkans are both saner and safer than the US of A. Until the US stirs the pot again, in any case…

      2. nycTerrierist

        Exactly. Jill Stein for me.

        They are both loathsome. Hillary more so, can’t bear to think of her smug sh*tshow for 4 years.

  39. homeroid

    The whole debate was a sad showing all in all. Thinking the next debate will get 1/3 of the views. The whole email and tax part was fun but it could-should have been more specific. Then specific could lead to lawsuits. Glad i only wasted some ales on this and not a good bottle of wine.

  40. JCC

    Just watched the whole thing and avoided the commentary here and elsewhere during this “TV show”.

    I think she came off better than he did, essentially he just ran a big advertisement for his real estate business and his tremendous business brain… not much else there.

    They were both 100% wrong on the causes of the 2007/2008 meltdown. I was not surprised there at all, but it’s still frustrating to have to listen to that crap while thinking god knows how many people are buying into it.

    And his tax proposals were ridiculous.

    Once was enough. I’m not sure I will waste any more of what I like to think is my valuable time on the rest of this three part mini-series.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘essentially he just ran a big advertisement for his real estate business and his tremendous business brain’

      Along with hitting the Reagan (tax cuts) and Nixon (law ‘n order) tropes. His praising stop ‘n frisk basically wrote off African-American votes.

      Big Mouth blew it big time. Much as I hate to say it too, I concur with Anne that Hillary whipped his butt with her greater professionalism.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The problem is that being a President isn’t a profession. Though I’m sure that the 10% would like to think it is.

        I think Trump had the opportunity to rise to the occasion, whether to humanize himself, or to focus on one point (“30 years” would have been good) and hammer it, or something, anything.

        But he lost that opportunity. I think he’s at his ceiling in what he can perform as a candidate. What we see is what we get.

        Clinton, on the other hand, did rise (if you’re looking for “presidential” markers). This performance should also lay the medical rumors to rest. No slipping cogs, no shorting out. If anything, she was relaxed. She looked a lot more tense on Between Two Ferns.

        1. ilporcupine

          You know I have been railing against speculation based on web video, about HRC medical status. BUT, I was watching her eyes during the introductions and opening remarks, very carefully for any sign of what has been widely touted, and I thought I saw it. It will be interesting to see what develops tomorrow on RW central.
          I’m gonna watch again.

        2. rd

          I don’t think that Trump understood this would be 90 minutes of reality TV that would be unscripted, unedited, and no retakes. I am appalled at how little he prepared for this. He didn’t even have good one-liners on note cards. He seemed to be relying entirely on gut feel on how to respond to everything – not a good way to approach the Presidency. I shudder to think of Trump in a Cuban Missile Crisis.

          Hillary has been baked in cynical politics for decades, but at least she will put some effort in, even if everything will be looked at through a detailed political lens, similar to how Nixon looked at things. The big question is: could she avoid a major strategic blunder like Nixon’s expansion of the Vietnam War as well as a fundamental character question like Watergate?

  41. Emmett the cat

    You got that right. Very depressing. I still think though, that Hillary will have the Democratic machine behind her and will be able to accomplish more of a flawed agenda (putting it mildly) than Donald will, so am looking past the individuals to the bigger picture. Why didn’t Bernie run as an independent? So sad. Vote your conscience, as Lambert says.

      1. jonboinAR

        He had the opportunity to renege on that pledge honorably when it was made obvious that the DNC had underhandedly gone in the tank for Clinton. Instead he decided that the only thing that mattered was serving Trump a defeat as punishment for his racist pandering.

  42. reslez

    I was mostly disappointed that Sanders wasn’t on the stage. Whenever Hillary spoke I kind of zoned out. I already know what she’s going to say and what she sounds like, there’s nothing interesting there. I only checked back in for Trump. He flailed around a bit, missed some opportunities for solid punches, but if people were expecting him to implode on stage he overcame that bar. Of course we’ll see what the media latches onto tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll come up with something. I thought Trump did best when he pointed out the Dems have been in the White House for 8 years — disastrous years for the middle class and the world — and Hillary wants to double down. If I were him I wouldn’t deviate from that.

    Also no mention of the graft-laden Clinton Foundation or the Wall Street speeches. Whenever Clinton hits him on his business dealings, I’d expect him to hit back on the millions Bill raked in from foreign companies while she was Secretary of State. The major reason I’ll never vote for her is because I perceive her as corrupt.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Agreed. Why no mention of the money-laundering Clinton Foundation?
      Trump really missed some comebacks.
      ok, I admit, I nodding off toward the end.

      1. vidimi

        trump’s problem is that his own trump foundation is a small scale version of the clinton foundation. every bit as corrupt, just a much smaller fish, so he cannot really go after her there.

  43. Lambert Strether Post author

    Summing up:

    If I think of myself as a debate judge, it was like watching an A team from a top school whipping the B team from a middle grade school. On every category I would have to give Clinton better marks. It wouldn’t even be close. One of the tragedies of judging that kind of round is seeing the B team do something really creative (like “30 years”) and then not be able to capitalize on the opportunity.

    If I think of myself as a citizen, it’s like watching two crazy people (much like the visual message in Clinton’s children ad). One person — Clinton — is far more functional than the other; far less florid. She can get up and go to work in the morning, emit bullet points, and so forth. But if you think about, saying that the Great Financial Crash was caused by trickle-down economics is about as crazy pants as you can get. And it shows amazing effrontery and shamelessness, given the role of the Clinton administration and Rubinomics in setting the stage for the crisis.

    However, in each case, they move in circles, worlds really, where everybody regards them as sane.

    Personally, I came out of this feeling more sympathetic to Trump as a person, believe it or not. I think he genuinely sees the infrastructural decay and it frosts him. Same with “you had 30 years to solve it.” Undeniably true; Clinton’s whole “let’s build on our success” schtick is such a steaming lot of 10%-er-ness. But if Trump wants to make this election a referendum on the political class, he’s going to have to do a lot better than this. If you regard success in the debate as emitting presidential markers (like NATO Article 5), then Clinton unquestionably won.

    We’ll see how the voters react. This year, more than any year, nobody knows anything.

    UPDATE Adding: I remain persuaded that we do not have a qualified candidate for President, and my hope is that the winner is crippled by gridlock.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Gridlock — it’s a thin reed to lean on, but it’s all we’ve got left.

        An R-party Congress spending all of 2017 on impeachment hearings would accomplish nothing at all legislatively.

        And that would be a home run.

      2. ilporcupine

        Is gridlock gonna help avoiding “misadventures” in overseas locales? Clinton would wait for congress on invasions/regime changes? Hasn’t stopped anyone much, so far…

    1. alex morfesis

      we will ignore the winner like we ignored gerald ford…the economy actually did well enough when we all rolled our eyes at president chevy chase, ignored him and just rolled forward…

      1. nobody

        …as meanwhile the Ford administration germinated the sleeper cell that, a quarter of a century later, would seize the reins during the years of Bush the Younger (or so the joke goes, referencing Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Chief of Staff Dick Cheney, Team B, and all that not-really-all-that-ancient history)…

    2. Buck Eschaton

      I told my wife that at least Trump seems to have some empathy, that he can see the suffering, he can see that there are way too many people in dire straits. They both seem very ill-informed about most everything. I kept saying the word “moron”. Very little reason was given to vote for either of them. That was horrible. Trump wins for me because of his observational skills in taking notice of the suffering in this country, but other than that he’s pretty bad. Clinton, there’s just nothing there for me.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Trump did show some empathy for economic suffering. But none for the victims of stop & frisk, who were ordered by cops to empty their pockets then arrested for ‘exhibiting drugs,’ a criminal offense in NYC.

        Trump offered the tired old Nixonian “law & order” wheeze (which means “keep the Gulag filled”). By contrast, Hillary praised phasing out federal private prisons and urged states to do the same — one of the first times in history that I have ever enthusiastically agreed with a single word she said.

        Another marker of no empathy was pointing out — in reply to Hillary’s claim that Trump paid no taxes a couple of years — that the money would have been squandered. While he’s quite right about the squandering bit, rubbing in his successful tax avoidance to middle class wage slaves who can’t sidestep withholding taxes is not going to sit well. Plus Trump plans to expand the squandering with a windmill tilt against Isis.

        Yet another corrupt Clinton presidency would be disastrous. But Trump does not appear to have the right stuff to keep the grifters from worming their way back in.

        Friends don’t let friends vote Depublicrat.

        1. jrs

          Hillary was right on outlawing private prisons, when of course no sane person of any political persuasion would be in favor of private prisons in the first place, it’s pure graft. But Trump seemed to genuinely if selectively FEEL for people’s economic pain, Hillary’s was political posturing (that I hope she follows through on if we wind up with her). Now the question is: who has taken money from the private prison industry and how much? Because that’s kind of critical in what will actually get done. I believe Hillary has, don’t know either way about Trump.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            LOL one of her big contributors rams private prisons for a living, I’m sure they didn’t give her the millions because they think she will shut them down.. You are making the perennial mistake of believing a single solitary word she utters, as Obama said in 2008: “Hilary will say anything, and change nothing”.

          2. mich2016

            Yes, he really FELT for people by bragging about his business sense in rooting for the housing crisis, defending his not paying a contractor for their work, and being smart enough to not pay taxes. Give me a break.

            1. Yves Smith

              You’ve got him only on #3. Clinton took his housing crisis remark out of context. It was more like, “If real estate crashes, I’ll be fine because I can buy at the bottom.” It was a deflection of “You’ve got most of your eggs in one basket and will be killed”. As to the contractors, if you look at the lawsuits (which he pretty much always won) they were commercial disputes that the contractors hadn’t completed the work or had not done it to the agreed upon requirements. I have to tell you that I’ve had disputes of that type myself, in getting work done on my apartment, one with someone who grossly overbilled me (as independent parties in the same line of work confirmed) and was practicing architecture without a license, another with a painter who did thousand of dollars of damage (and that in a small job). The contractors complained they were treated badly. In my case, they did too. Oh, and I forgot about a third person who misrepresented the provenance of some antiques he sold me. I found out later that he was sued successfully by other clients for the same thing, by the time I figured it out, he was too broke for it to be worth pursuing him. Maybe in Trump’s case the vendors were right, but without independent verification, all you have is “he said, she said.”

      2. jrs

        Trump probably is ill-informed (but we like to vote for idiots – well hey at least they come off less willfully evil), Hillary is either disinformed or more likely a tool of disinformation.

    3. cnchal

      I think he genuinely sees the infrastructural decay and it frosts him.

      Yes, and connects the $6 trillion invested in blowing up the Middle East to what it could have been used for instead, and repeatedly called out big bureaucracy for big mistakes.

    4. MojaveWolf

      Personally, I came out of this feeling more sympathetic to Trump as a person, believe it or not. I think he genuinely sees the infrastructural decay and it frosts him. Same with “you had 30 years to solve it.” Undeniably true; Clinton’s whole “let’s build on our success” schtick is such a steaming lot of 10%-er-ness. But if Trump wants to make this election a referendum on the political class, he’s going to have to do a lot better than this

      Agreed here. My SO put it better than me: Hillary gave no indication she is going to change the course we are on now; in fact, reading between the lines, she thinks things are going great and there is no reason to change anything.” And Trump did do a good job of identifying a number of things that are wrong, even if he wasn’t particularly articulate in discussing them.

      I think there is a better chance that Trump will actually try to fix things, but tax policy and several other things did not give me great hope that he has any idea how to fix things, or will learn & adapt quickly enough. On the plus side, some people talk better than they deliver; some people deliver better than they talk. At least there’s a chance he’s one of the latter.

      Hillary… we know what we are getting. She won’t deliver better than she talks. I have nothing kind to say here, other than she did a good job of finishing her sentences, and her tax policy is better than Trump’s. And that she used to be much, much better in debates. I remain flummoxed that people are giving her credit for doing well in this one.

      1. ilporcupine

        Trump makes an occasional noise in that direction, IF there has been a related segment on the talk shows or one of the conservative sites. Where in his stated policy (ie on his website or in positions in writing) is anything to suggest he will fix any of that misery? Tax cuts and deregulation? Letting him negotiate trade deals, instead of Obama people? I can’t find where he would refuse “trade deals”, only ones “These Morons running things” have negotiated. I’m betting he would push them with minor changes, as will HRC. ISDS is a foregone conclusion, with either. Jesus, one of his advisors is Larry f’n Kudlow. If the regulars here are not appalled by the guys he has surrounded himself with, I sure am. I can see it coming…

          1. aab

            At least Trump has the good taste not to have Kudlow sit on his lap. Or vice versa.

            Reading liberals explain how George W. Bush is just a misunderstood patriot has been…educational. Not in the way they intend.

            I think Trump’s probably serious about trade. But if I understand the structural issues correctly, it doesn’t really matter whether he is serious or not. Apparently the Republican base is now strongly opposed to free trade. (I think most already were, but now they have permission to affirmatively say so, and pick up stragglers.) I know Obama is counting on getting votes from people thrown out of office and looking for lobbying work. But I don’t think there will be enough of them, will there? The Dems aren’t going to flip either house, it looks like — certainly not by large numbers. That means there won’t be tons of “loose” Republican votes, Republicans returning won’t be incentivized to betray their incoming President for Obama, and Democrats on their way out may see shrinking lobbying opportunities, as the Democratic Party — IF Clinton doesn’t take power — will be very weak at both the federal and state level.

            If my assessment is correct, TPP dies with a Trump win. There isn’t an option to reopen negotiations, is there? A brand new “Trump style” treaty would take years to negotiate, and he has “one term” written all over him. This also would kill TISA, right? Is it technically contingent on TPP passing first?

            I am looking forward to Democratic Senators using secret holds and such to stop Republican tax plans that benefit corporations and the wealthy.

            Okay, now that I’ve stopped laughing, I’ll correct this. I’m assuming BERNIE will use holds and such to stop this stuff. But it will be entertaining to watch the Democrats explain why the Republican can top from the bottom, but they never can.

            1. John Zelnicker

              @aab – “This also would kill TISA, right? Is it technically contingent on TPP passing first?”

              I don’t think TISA depends on TPP being passed. As I understand it, they are being negotiated separately.

              One particular provision of TISA is as bad as anything in TPP (bar ISDS) and that is the prohibition on remunicipalization of privatized public resources. Governments would not be allowed to take back things such as British Rail that have been sold off to the private sector, and would be prohibited from nationalizing any other public good now in private hands. It’s another hit to national sovereignty.

          2. ilporcupine

            You are right, indeed. I just think DT is getting more “benefit of the doubt” than is warranted, given what I know of his past, and the sources he apparently uses, and the advisors he surrounds with.
            HRC, you knew from the beginning, who she was tied to/advised by/paid for by. She is a “known known”. We are all seeking to know what or who DT represents, as he is harder to pin down.
            HRC and Bill are the most successful organized crime outfit since Wall St., and that is enough to categorize them, even without the obvious foreign policy horrors.

    5. jrs

      I don’t think Clinton won every category just most. I think Trump won on “there is no evidence Russia hacked the DNC”.

        1. geosprouter

          There is just no way that manufacturing is coming back to the States. I don’t think Donald will get very far with this…. The elites will not allow this.

    6. okanogen


      Donald Trump doesn’t care about anything but Donald Trump and money. He was once again pimping his properties even in the debate. Donald Trump doesn’t believe in anything except some conspiracy theories, which he proved again tonight. Donald Trump is a science-denier (climate change). Donald Trump can’t even bother to prepare himself, or respect voters enough to prepare himself to interview for the most powerful job in the world. That is how arrogant, and stupid, and uninformed he is, and it showed.

      You may disagree with Clinton and many of her priorities (and I do, too), but she is not any of those things and that difference is not nothing.

      I know it is fashionable in certain circles to think these are two equally awful people, but from what I have seen, that fashion is only when you have the privilege of being white. We have one candidate who is a proven, avowed, and unapologetic racist, and one that talks convincingly about systemic racism in our society that needs to be ended.

      Clinton cleaned the floor with him. She was calm, direct, and strategic. While he was sniffling, harrumphing, rude, and incoherent. Some of his answers were a confusing word magnet soup flung at a refrigerator. He had a few moments, on TPP, on “bad experience”, maybe one other, but the rest of the night, he was p0wnd.

      Did it change any minds? Maybe a couple, but if at this late time you are so stupid to think there is little difference between these candidates, you probably are immune to any evidence at all. Might as well vote according to chicken entrails.

      1. pretzelattack

        she’s a warmonger, she supports the trade deals, she undermines climate change mitigation with her support of fracking, and she’s owned by the elites. he may be better on all fronts; we know what we have with her.

        1. okanogen

          She described clearly how she worked to prevent war with Iran by seeking sanctions leading to successful negotiations. For his part, Trump thought that was a terrible thing and wants to blow their ships out of the water at the slightest provocation. Does support for some (not all) fracking “undermine climate change”? I’m a professional geoscientist fucking actually IN THE WIND INDUSTRY and can tell you categorically that is not true. Your bandwidth on the internet and daily commute is more damaging than fracking. She is owned by elites? So? He isn’t?
          I grant, she is far from perfect, but he is the first openly, unapologetically racist and sexist president we have had since…. Andrew Jackson? And you are excusing him, thinking you are a “liberal”. You should reexamine your priorities.

  44. HBE

    They are both so bad, I did see about a dozen people a an extremely busy intersection with Stein – Baraka signs after work, so things aren’t all bad.

    1. fresno dan

      September 26, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      thanks for that – very soothing – and in the scheme of eternity, it doesn’t much matter
      And the pictures are great!

  45. MojaveWolf

    How are we gonna survive 4 years with either of them at the helm?

    That was my take exactly. Since I don’t honestly think Stein is going to win, and I think Johnson might be worse than either of these, I was hoping one of them would give me a reason to feel optimistic that they would do a decent job. They … both failed horribly.

    And what is up with all the people on NBC and now in my twitter feed repeating this mantra that “We had high expectations for Hillary, and she exceeded them!”

    What universe are they living in? Half of these people used to be Bernie supporters. Are people that easily manipulated? Did I used to be that easily manipulated? Or have I gone completely insane now. This was some kind of masterful performance? She mouthed a lot of decent sounding platitudes with no specifics re: policy (while everyone praises her for specifics, and I think she championed the ideas of specifics themselves) while doing a decent but not great job of hitting Trump on some areas where he’s very vulnerable.

    He did a great job finding areas where she’s vulnerable, but a terrible job of hitting her on them.

    She did a better job of finishing her sentences, but … wow. That was the bar for coherence and specificity here.

    Meanwhile, my twitter feed is full of people who think one or the other landed telling blows. The pundits all think she was terrif. His partisans seem to think he did well.

    He looked like he was posing half the time. I don’t even know what to say about her expressions. I hate when people talk about stuff like that but what else is there to say here?

    My SO and I were constantly covering our eyes and putting our heads down and occasionally laughing at each others expressions and occasionally laughing so hard we had tears running down our eyes at what (both) the candidates were saying. Now it’s over I just want to cry.

    I know a lot of people here are not fans of the Green Party, but hate on Jill all you want, she would have almost certainly been better up there tonight than either of these people. It would have been hard to be worse.

    1. cwaltz

      “Are people that easily manipulated?”


      Was I that easily manipulated?
      Probably. Don’t feel bad though most of us were naïve enough to believe the BS for at least some period of time.

      This was some kind of masterful performance?

      Uh it’s scripted reality TV. The “debates” are vetted and agreed upon by the two parties who sponsored the darn thing via their little pretend front group. Anyone, at this point, who thinks these things matter is fooling themselves. It’s a 90 minute infomercial, so if you find infomercials masterful then I guess.

      Personally, I’m boycotting these things until they actually allow ALL the candidates that qualify for the ballot on stage.

      1. Jeff N

        very true – they even have pre-agreements for how the stage will be set up, what colors the background will be, how tall the podiums are… it’s ridiculous

    2. Jim Haygood

      Thank you for pointing out that as usual, the unconstitutional and illegitimate two-party duopoly has excluded other candidates who will be on the ballot.

      Who exactly gave them this privilege of exclusion?

      1. ilporcupine

        Private enterprise, Jim. You can always put up the money for third party candidates to debate on prime time. Thought that was how the market “works”.

  46. ilporcupine

    Trump can go off on 5 tangents in each sentence. I keep waiting for him to make his damn point, already.
    It all comes off as gibberish. I cannot wait for a verbatim transcript of this cluster****. It will be largely incomprehensible.
    As for “HER”, I aint with her either. We are screwwwed.

    1. jrs

      It was like that in the Republican debates for anyone who bothered to read the transcripts. Trump was incoherent, the other candidates were basically coherent (wrong, liars and horrible many of them, but able to form a coherent sentence. Trump stood out).

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I disagree strongly that Trump is incoherent; I saw him in Bangor. What he is, is discursive and improvisational. He has his main points that he always circles back to, but he riffs and reacts to the crowd.

      However, that style doesn’t work for him in this debate. He doesn’t get to determine the structure, there’s no time in a two minute answer to do the kind of excursions he likes to do, and the crowd was told not to react. The format works very much against Trump, and very much for Clinton. Delivering bullet points successfully is a marker that a candidate is president-y. Considering what PowerPoint has done to the Pentagon, that might not be such a great idea, but it is what it is and we are where we are.

      1. Ché Pasa

        He’s incoherent much the way Reagan was when he wasn’t scripted or Obama can be when the teleprompter is down or Sarah Palin still is whether she’s scripted or not.

        Defenses of this incoherence are nonsense.

      2. okanogen

        Tony Schwartz, his ghostwriter has very clearly described his personality, and his inability to pay attention for more than a fleeting moment on any one topic. I was skeptical that it was as bad as he described, but this was exhibit A. On what was maybe the most important life, it was obvious he couldn’t muster the focus to get through it. He couldn’t manage the discipline, or effort, or sacrifice the time from another ego-stroking rally to prepare himself.

        Incoherence? In spades. Even at the time, and trying to follow them, his answers were like the stream of consciousness of an 8-year old, distracted by the water glass on his podium, the microphone, her bites, the triggers of taglines that he has used over and over. He was a salesman in a 15-minute pitch that he had to stretch into a 90 minute QA session. And he failed, because he didn’t know what the fuck he was selling.

    1. Yves Smith

      Prediction markets are saying she killed him.

      I would look to see the results of multiple online polls. Both Hillary and Trump fans will be trying to game them but it will be hard to skew results across the entire web.

        1. Yves Smith

          Dunno with Rs, but the online polls showed Sanders to be a winner in debates where the MSM called him a loser, and Sanders continued gains in later, conventional polls v. Clinton seemed way more in line with the online polls than MSM takes.

          1. PhilU

            I’m surprised that no one mentioned the one best line to the non political junkie. They HATE political commercials. He nailed her on spending Millions attacking him and he came across gentlemanly saying he wouldn’t / hasn’t done that to her.

            1. Octopii

              I didn’t think it was gentlemanly at all. I took it as a nasty threat. That was actually one of the most distasteful moments for me.

      1. Frenchguy

        Since the Brexit fiasco, I’m extremely skeptical when it comes to prediction markets (at least on political subjects…).

  47. fresno dan

    All I can think after I watched this is that I could have dismembered, dissected, discombobulated, and reduced Hillary not only to cells, not just to molecules, but to quarks.
    looking at it, I just can’t see how anybody could think Trump is actually very smart, or smart, or much above ANY New York cabbie…or any or those horses in central park….or the south end of any of those horses….
    Honestly, I’ve seen 5 years olds who could resist the bait better than Trump…

    1. jrs

      I don’t know why this is surprising, Trump is the narcissist he is regardless of what people want to project on him. Of course none of that makes Clinton any better.

      Whether it’s effective, eh who knows, if it’s authoritarians voting for him maybe that is what they like, but I don’t think there are enough of them for him to win on that alone. If people are just casting random angry votes for anything but the status quo then maybe.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > narcissist

        I disagree. I think both candidates are isolated within elite bubbles, leading to behaviors we consider narcissistic (armchair diagnosis, when you think about it. I mean, “I’m with her….”)

  48. John S

    I watched the debare on CSPAN, where a split screen was used that showed the candidates at all times…

    ….Did anyone else notice how consistently Hillary looked down at the podium? I believe she was being fed “Cliff Notes” ON AN IPAD by her staff re every topic that was bought up….she was ALWAYS looking down and, I assume she was being fed CUES AND WORDS OR PHRASES that she should use….she not only looked down a lot before the time she was supposed to speak but also looked down a lot during her responses……

    OTOH, Trump was “winging it” and “shooting from the hip”…..Hillary won because the notes kept her on track….If trump had done any serious prep and could take advice, he could have destroyed her…But, he doesn’t do prep, so he can’t effectively respond…….

    She was told to smile when he attacked….she did this……this response aggravated me, but didn’t hurt her with the public of “Undecideds”

    He was told to refrain from interrupting…he did an excellent job of interjecting comments at the beginning, but lost control as the night wore on…..

    Lester was about the worst Moderator I have listened/watched/prayed for during a Debate…..of course, the job is “thankless”

    Hillary’s closing comments were stronger, but by then I don’t think their were many left watching who were “Persuadables”….those of us left were “political junkies” hoping for a last lap NASCAR worthy Candidate Crash…..

    I think Trump had the opportunity to win the debate handed to him on a si9lver platter by Hillary, but his failure to Prepare and Do the Little Things that would have helped him be ready for her totally expected responses/statements/stalking points cost him dearly…..

    He remains the Rich Guy, who does what he wants…..

    She remains the Robotic Gal, who will probably get what she wants….


    (and, thanks, Lambert)

    1. TheCatSaid

      Yes she was looking down a lot. Were they allowed to have iPads to look at?

      I felt she was listeninga lot–she had that look some newscasters have when their producers are telling them updated news or giving suggestions through an ear device. Could she have been wired up? Are there rules about this?

      1. Elizabeth

        I think one of the CBS commentators said that Hillary appeared to be using notes. She did look down a lot, and I also thought she seemed unusually subdued. At times she appeared to look sleepy and bored. I don’t think this “debate” changed anyone’s mind. I think Trump was trying to “dial it back”, and he did miss several opportunities to zing Clinton. It did confirm one thing for me – we’re all screwed.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t think in the great scheme of things this matters much. If there was an iPad and it worked for Clinton, then why the heck didn’t the Trump team give their guy an equivalent advantage?

      (If true, this shows the dangers of an overly lean campaign team.)

  49. Pat

    Two impressions, on the bus where I could just hear them, it was pretty equal. Both spouted nonsense and both had decent points regarding the other. Home where I had visuals, before I switched, she looked relaxed and yes healthy. She even appeared amused by him.He was flustered and floundering. There were at least two opportunities where he could have landed blows on her policies which he lost by being defensive. His judgment is better than her’s, but that is an incredibly low bar. Based on 2, she won.

    Based on the nonsense they both reeled off the biggest loser tonight, election day and the future are the American people either way.

    1. Jim Haygood

      J-Yel must be shocked that Trump ripped her early on. The earnest bureaucrats at the Fed are not used to being fodder for campaign criticism.

      Trump went on to call today’s economy a “big fat Bubble.” (I call it Bubble III.) He implied that one rate hike will be the pin that pops it, and he’s probably right.

      Knowing this does not mean he can do anything about it. Currently J-Yel plans to hike in December during the interregnum, when the US political system is inert and the MSM is all focused on cabinet picks.

      Almost certainly, the next president will have a close-up, personal encounter with a harsh recession. The only advice from pros is “get it behind you early.” That’s why I have it penciled in for 2017-18.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > 2017-2018

        That’s what the hotel people think (see yesterday’s water cooler). Hotel bookings being a fine indicator of the animal spirits of the managing and investing classes. Whether they are a leading indicator remains to be seen….

      2. cm

        Fed is political, no doubt about that:

        I quote:

        And in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson, who wanted cheap credit to finance the Vietnam War and his Great Society, summoned Fed chairman William McChesney Martin to his Texas ranch. There, after asking other officials to leave the room, Johnson reportedly shoved Martin against the wall as he demanding that the Fed once again hold down interest rates. Martin caved, the Fed printed money, and inflation kept climbing until the early 1980s.

        1. JTMcPhee

          …too bad the Current Occupant couldn’t do the same to Yellen and his “treasury secretary” I I favor of all those things that benefit the general public welfare, instead of the welfare of the generals…

  50. EoinW

    Ironic that in this post-democratic world I watched my first political debate ever. Give the credit to the great entertainer: Donald Trump. Problem was: he wasn’t the least bit entertaining tonight. I thought Clinton did well, however she is playing a losing hand. Trump is on the right side of all the issues that matter. Unfortunately(for everyone) the only reality Clinton and the entire western political establishment cares about is how many of the 1% will pay $500 a plate for a dinner and a speech.

    Regarding tonight’s shenanagans, I thought Lester Holt was the winner. A good moderator should be virtually invisible, let the candidates do their thing. Clinton scored her debating points but I’m not convinced that won her any votes. Was Trump performing in a strait jacket? Seemed like he was more worried about appearing reserved and presidential. And holy repetitive! I was looking forward to Tyson-Spinks, instead I got Tyson-Douglas! Yet I wouldn’t be surprised if it all worked and Trump comes out ahead in the polls. He certainly didn’t look scary tonight. Boring yes, however doesn’t boring deflate these ideas that he’s an out of control amateur who can’t be trusted?

  51. cm

    1. Cloudflare did not protect from severe disruption. I tried several times to comment, and was blocked. Do you have an SLA?

    2. IMO Trump serves as a fuck-you vote. A rejection of the past 30 year’s status quo. So expecting some sort of statesman-like performance is not realistic. 4 years of shitshow deadlock is all I ask for…

  52. Brad

    Bottom line is, all Murica could do was cough up these two turds. Yeah, deliberately mixed metaphor. Main difference is, if Trump gets elected it will certify Murica before the whole world as a country full of arseholes who’ve finally got to elect their very own Arsehole in Chief.

    1. JTMcPhee

      …people with intestinal blockages will actually cough shit out of their mouths — demands serious surgical intervention, or stuff like manual disimpaction, http://faculty.ksu.edu.sa/omar%20omari/Documents/Performing%20Manual%20Disimpaction.pdf, one of the things us nurses get to do for a$$4oles whatever their political leanings.

      Is it not nice that the invisible caregivers who, under the Global Business Model, make ever smaller incomes, with ever greater workloads and in the face of ever more abusive corporate coprophagy, are still driven by motives like altruism and empathy to carry on? To take care, TAKE CARE, of people like GHWB and Dickless Cheney and Heartless Kissinger and now the Kochs and in time, Dimon and Blankfein and Merkel and that other Cherman guy and Blair and the Current First Family, on and on, all the rest of the parasites, as the efficacy of virgin’s blood declines?

  53. Lambert Strether Post author

    One point made by a friend of the blog: Neither candidate appealed to anyone other than their base. And it’s hard to see why anyone undecided would be moved. It’s even harder to see why a voter committed to Johnson or Stein would move.

    Therefore, we would not expect the polls to move. And what matters is a tiny population of voters in swing counties in swing states (not national polls), which data is not available to us.

    Of course, since the political class is all in for Clinton, they will portray it as an overwhelming win for Clinton (as did I, since I am a 10%-er manqué). However, exactly as with TV advertising, the pronouncements of the political class have had greatly diminished returns this year….

    I’ll be interested what old-school people like Nooners have to say….

    1. manymusings

      I don’t see them as playing only to their respective bases — it seems like they also were trying to affect overarching narratives. Clinton’s case against Trump is that he’s monstrous. I think he cut against that indictment tonight (and it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that he would). Trump’s case against Clinton is that she’s a corrupt and dishonest version of politics as usual, which already is corrupt and dishonest. I don’t know whether she moved the dial on that. Apart from immediate reactions, wonder if there will be any shifts.

  54. Lambert Strether Post author

    Will anyone with CloudFlare issues please give technical details? Machine, operating system, browser, ISP, and also location. Intermittent service outages are hard to detect… (We have no clout with CloudFlare, but all in all I’d rather have the world make sense than not.)

    1. cm

      Windows 7 (current), PaleMoon (current), Portland Oregon, Comcast (you need to be asking for the ISP)…

      As I stated, numerous issues w/ CloudFlare throughout the entire debate.

      1. ilporcupine

        Windows 8.1, Latest Firefox, Charter Comm.. STL area, Got the Cloudflare page more time than I can count. Tried with Chrome, never got in. Tried many times commmenting during the “festivities”, but kept getting kicked out again. Everytime pushed submit button, kicked again. I was also having trouble all day with NC, but no other sites. So probably not just traffic related. After all the DDos stuff lately, I was worried you were being F’d with again, but glad that is not the case. Cloudflare page says browser OK, Cloudflare OK, site not available or server not available(couple variations of this page showed up during many tries to refresh).Cloudflare guys could at least take a look at their logging.
        Hope it helps!

        1. Steve C

          Safari on an iPhone. It said the server is down. At one point, it offered some special way to see some sort of virtual version of the site if I took some extra steps. I was suspicious of this and didn’t do it.

      2. Kokuanani

        MacBook Air with OS 10.11 + Safari. Washington DC area + Comcast.

        Couldn’t get in MANY times, and my comments went to moderation & never reappeared.

        1. petal

          I was having problems all yesterday both at work and home. MacBook Pro(10.6.8), Chrome browser. Hanover, NH. I’d get CloudFlare-said it was your(NC’s) server, and it kept loading/CloudFlare page was blinking every second. Really weird. Was worried y’all were under attack again or something.

        2. Rhondda

          MacBook Air with OS 10.10.5, Firefox Browser 49.0.1, Kansas City, Google Gigabit

          I had troubles with the site all day (Cloudflare, Error 521 web site offline), starting before 8am Central and continuing on and off throughout the day and eve. Troubles finally stopped at around 9 or 9:30 pm central.

    2. CraaaaazyChris

      I’m also in the Portland, OR area (west of downtown). With my iPad at a cafe this morning, tried to read NC from the cafe WiFi and got CloudFlare. I switched my iPad to tether from my phone (AT&T) data for WiFi …. still got CloudFlare. Maybe an hour later when was home I tried again (Frontier FIOS) and still got CloudFlare. Later in the day it was working for me, but you went dark again (from my home connection) during the debate.

      Not sure if you are being DDOS-ed by a bunch of IoT webcams, or a very large contingent of readers who know N.C. is the best news aggregator on the internets. ?

    3. Lois

      iOS 9 on iPhone with Safari, Seattle area, Verizon cell and Comcast wifi. Happened all evening during debate, I’m reading late here on west coast.

    4. BillC

      Modena Italy, ISP Telecom Italia (copper, not fiber, plant at my option), Linux 8 (Jessie), Vivaldi browser (maybe not quite ready for prime time), Cloudflare “Web server down” page served from Milan many times Monday, long before the debate — from around the time Yves’ links went live and intermittently thereafter. Was wondering if someone was warming up a DDOS for Lambert’s live blog during the debate. Did not try during the debate; not gonna lose sleep voluntarily for these dreadful excuses for leaders.

      Thanks to all who had the intestinal fortitude to watch and tell. Not sure I feel any better for it, but at least I get straighter scoop than from the TV talking heads here, who like their US Mass Media peers, mostly repeat the received wisdom is HRC is sane and qualified and Trump is not.

    5. Ernie

      MacBook Pro, OSX v. 10.11.6, FireFox v. 49.0, Time Warner Cable, mid-coast Maine. Lots of trouble getting page to load, especially during first part of debate; but intermittent continuing problems throughout.

    6. JCC

      Linux (Fedora), Firefox, isp is MediaCom with a 50~ Meg speed located in Socal Mojave Desert. Cloudflare was intermittent all day long from my first view of the site at 5:15AM all the way through 10:30PM Pacific time.

      Seems to be fine today. I figured you were going through another DDOS all day yesterday and almost completed a comment on that last night but too many loss of site errors so I gave up.

  55. Susan C

    Watched the whole thing. Trump missed a good opportunity to respond to Hillary’s comment that trickle down was the reason for the financial crisis. Trump could have spoken up and said it was Goldman Sachs and big banks that played the key role in bringing on the financial crisis – which would have lead many to think again about her speeches at GS. Outside of the fact that Hillary’s comment made me super confused – and maybe Trump as well – it would have been great if he could have mentioned the banks and what did she promise the big banks during her speeches.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Very good point on Goldman. In a way, it seems that Clinton threw the kitchen sink on Trump (her assault on his business dealings, using the income tax thing as a hook, was prepared but highly effective). But Trump didn’t throw the kitchen sink back at her. Odd.

        1. aab

          Voting has already started. I don’t see any benefit to going soft on her. He relied on free media in the primary, and he has much less money than she does. If he’s serious about winning, this was an important opportunity that he apparently blew. The next one isn’t even a pseudo-debate, is it? I read today it’s a Town Hall — i.e., completely useless. Actually less than useless; it should be a very poor format for him, and a very protected format for her.

          By the time they get to the next direct confrontation, a lot of votes will have been banked.

          1. pretzelattack

            i’m starting to try to mentally prepare myself for a clinton win. or steal, or whatever. “i survived reagan, i didn’t totally lose it during the time of the chimp, i can do this. happy thoughts”.

            1. aab

              I can’t. I’m too afraid of her. I can picture surviving Trump. But Clinton really scares me. I have a draft age child; that’s a not insignificant element. That plus TPP.

              Sorry if I’m harshing your buzz.

              1. John Zelnicker

                @aab – I feel your pain about your kid and the draft. I was in the first draft lottery in 1969 and came out with #27. Fortunately, I was able to avoid being drafted due to it being suspended for the first 90 days of 1972 because they had enough soldiers and were beginning to draw down the forces in Viet Nam.

              2. pretzelattack

                oh i don’t have a buzz, unless it’s a negative buzz, about this election. clinton scares me more than trump. but he’s the only thing that can stop her now, and that seems a bit less likely than last night.

    2. cm

      I was wondering if he’s holding the GS speech transcripts in reserve?

      I was hoping for more of a pounding. I wonder if his team will do polling to determine how hard-hitting he can go before it gets too negative? The history of Glass-Steagall repeal is pretty damning. I’m also hoping to hear her defence of her cattle futures trading, but perhaps that is too ancient of history?

      Also, was interesting wrt his usage of the word “secretary” — a la Scott Adams, I suspect he’s hoping the average viewer will subconsciously associate Hillary with the office secretary, rather than Secretary of State.

      Old news (from May), but sad to see the “fact checkers” on the birther origins

  56. Lambert Strether Post author

    Before I forget, Trump was very strong on trade, early. Nailed Clinton on NAFTA, nailed her on TPP. Fits right in with “you’ve had 30 years,” but (B team, not top tier school) he didn’t keep hammering that point. An early win (on the theory that debates are won early) but for me overshadowed by the rest of it).

    1. relstprof

      Absolutely. If it had been a 35 minute debate, Trump would have won hands down. Of course, the minute they moved to taxes, the incoherence of Trump’s economic policy becomes apparent.

  57. relstprof

    Among others, 3 mistakes by Trump that a seasoned politician wouldn’t have made. First, Clinton accuses him of not paying maids, contractors, architects, etc. and Trump basically agrees. He doesn’t dispute this, instead says “maybe they didn’t do the work.” In a time of economic stagnation, this was a miss. (A seasoned politician would have just lied and said “not true.”) Second, the tax stuff where Clinton outlines possible reasons he isn’t releasing and he didn’t do the simple thing and say “none of those are true.” Instead, maybe not paying taxes is a “smart thing.” Third, Trump can’t even do the short work to memorize a story tying the creation of ISIS to Clinton’s interventionism (and thus refugee crisis). Instead he bloviates about the Iran deal that very few Americans know enough about to judge good or bad.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Trump’s team needs to slap some sense into him (if that’s possible and he can listen). So many winning arguments left on the table (and ripe for Trump’s simple language, too).

      1. relstprof

        Upon a second watch of the debate (ok, I’m crazy), he actually does make the point about the creation of ISIS. Unfortunately, his rhetoric ends on “we should have taken the oil.” So he doesn’t distinguish the story as the failure of Obama/Clinton foreign policy as a policy of interventionism. His argument is that interventionism must pay out in some way.

        Trump didn’t help himself by claiming earlier that Clinton has been fighting ISIS her whole life. That obvious gaffe makes it hard to hear anything he says later in the debate.

        I’m in agreement with Corey Robin — Trump is not a master communicator. Pace Scott Adams.

        Also, it’s not nice that Hillary buys negative ads

        1. aab

          Not having watched one second of this “debate,” I think it’s important to note that there are many different kinds of communication. As far as I can tell, Trump’s a decent salesman. That’s a very specific type of communication, that specifically is NOT about delivering information or or enhancing understanding. It’s about establishing control of your target and leading them to do/buy what you want them to do/buy. It doesn’t sound like he figured out a way to make this very different situation work for him, the way he apparently did the very different Republican debates. Note that I’m not claiming he IS a master communicator. I don’t think either of them are.

          So many people are saying she was obviously looking down a lot and reading from notes or possibly an iPad. If so, why wouldn’t he call her out on it?

          1. relstprof

            Trump is giving mixed messages — that’s his communication failure. We’re supposed to be disgusted by Obama/Clinton foreign policy, but it’s never clear why. Because the policy is failed at the start — intervening in Middle Eastern affairs is foolish? Or, we should be intervening for the sake of American power? Trump never articulates a policy goal either way. This is the empty rhetoric of “America first.” He never argues a long term strategy of foreign policy for America or the world at large.

            NATO is just a tool. For what? Not clear.

            If you think, well: America shouldn’t be articulating a strategy for global politics. Fine. I’m happy to listen, but so far, Trump hasn’t even made this idea coherent.

              1. aab

                Bear in mind, I didn’t watch tonight. I’m not an expert on Trump. But I’m so sick of all this discourse around “intelligence” and “communication” that defines both concepts in extremely limited and fundamentally false ways that align with the proclivities of those in the position to do the defining. I don’t consider Hillary Clinton very smart. Her complete lack of morals and empathy are a far more significant factor in her success than her intelligence. Trump seems fairly bright in some ways, and he’s certainly good at understanding certain kinds of non-verbal communication. (For example, all that gold that seems so vulgar to one audience is very appealing to another.) Beyond that, I have no strong opinion about him in this regard. Do I think he’s a sizzling intellect? No.

                Again, salesmanship has nothing to do with messaging per se. In fact, one sales technique would be to using contradictory messaging at differing points in the sales path, to confuse the target. Salesmanship is about control and manipulation.

                Persuasion is a different process, where messaging, as the term is generally used, matters.

                I would have liked him to take her out tonight. But beyond the strategic goal of keeping her out of power, I don’t know whether I’d prefer a smart and/or disciplined Trump over a less smart, less disciplined one. I’d like him to be smart enough not to be a stooge for the existing “bipartisan” elite, since merely resisting their desires and goals seems like it would good for the rest of us. But it’s possible (probable?) he means all or part of that noxious traditional Republican swill he’s offering up. In which case, being less smart and less disciplined might be better in terms of him acting as an obstacle to business as usual — as long as he’s stubborn.

                I’m basically with Lambert: the best we can hope for is gridlock. But since Clinton is running as an efficient, bloodthirsty Republican, and what she really wants to do is wage war, which requires no Congressional action, Trump’s the better bet for gridlock, even with a Republican majority. We’ll get Democrats forced to playact the role of “Democrat;” it’s something.

                That’s why I focus mostly on the structural stuff. We know what Clinton is and will do, and it’s horrendous. That’s why throwing the Trump spanner into the works is worth doing. I would love for him to govern way to the left of how he ran, just as Obama governed way to the right of how he ran. But there really aren’t a lot of incentives for Trump to do that, unlike for Obama. I’m not naive enough to count on Trump’s human decency, although I do get the impression he may have a sliver of it, unlike both Obama and Clinton. But I also think he’s sincerely racist. If Clinton wasn’t such a profound and effectively violent racist, Trump’s racism would really give me pause.

                Anyway, my key point is that doing very badly in the format and conditions of tonight’s event does not prove he is a bad communicator in some overarching sense.

  58. Fiver

    Now that’s what I call talent. But as one of them is going to be President, I just want to point out the one thing worth noting she said all night.

    Clinton doesn’t have her thumbs on the button yet she’s just threatened Russia with a cyber-war in retaliation for purported Russian attacks on the DNC etc., ‘hacks’ for which there is less proof than there is an interest on Clinton’s part in changing the channel away from what the ‘hacks’ revealed about her own nefarious doings. So, in retaliation for something that may not have happened at all Clinton’s instinct is to hit what could well be the wrong guy because it suits her personal interest – more egregious still, in this instance the wrong guy happens to be engaged in an existential struggle for independent, sovereign survival on the same planet as the US Empire and quite desperately needs an American leader of calibre. I know it’s hard to look past the enormous frozen smile, still, close your eyes and try to remember the look in her eyes, the downward cut of her mouth and clamped jaw when Trump briefly brushed past a sore spot – that person in there, that is the person who will be the next Leader of The Free World, that is to say, the woman who will lead the revolution of the globalists over the tyranny of nations. The effort to re-assert US hegemony will prove calamitous.

    1. jrs

      It does seem to me that the voice that can proclaim with little evidence that Russia hacked into the DNC can easily become the same voice that can proclaim with little evidence that Iraq has WMDs (that is the modern version of that for the enemy du jour of course).

    2. Skippy

      Yet Trump clearly said the – WORLD – owes tribute to America and some trade wars with them including China…

  59. Matt Platte

    To run traceroute on Windows:

    Open the command prompt. Go to Start > Run. …
    In the command prompt, type: tracert hostname. …
    You may have to wait up to a minute or more for the test to complete. …
    Send us the complete results (every line) for analysis.

    1. Fiver

      That’s actually brilliant, and the fact he didn’t/hasn’t so far supports my thesis – so don’t expect him to try it. Trump doesn’t want to win – what he wants is to lose without being a ‘loser’. It’s been evident for a long time now. If he’d wanted to win he could’ve sat down with any high school coach to map out a strategy and a set of talking points that would not just defeat Clinton, but quite possibly send a bunch of people to jail. That’s why it’s Trump (or could’ve been Cruz). You could not draw a more perfect stereo-typically encumbered character beside which to contrast Clinton, whose entire public career persona has been premised on ‘breaking down’ same – even if her husband did send a million poor, mostly young black Americans away to rot in fantastically lucrative private prisons working for slave wages.

      1. jrs

        I suspect if he wanted to win he would spend on advertising, just saying. It may or may not pan out, but why not make use of things that might help him win if winning was what he wanted?

      2. Cry Shop

        Trump doesn’t have to play that “arrest the banker” card to win, and there are plenty of reasons why he would not, including he wants to stay alive. Plus, there’s selling and then there’s giving away.

        If he wanted to loose and yet come out a winner, then I’d expect him to take the high ground or stake a claim in a way that would allow him to claim the vote was rigged. Not seeing that at all.

        1. MojaveWolf

          I think Trump wants to win the election, simply because he doesn’t want to lose. Last night did convince me of that, even though I think he prepared poorly for the format and looked awful a great part of the time.

          I’m not convinced he wants to actually be president and govern. We’ll see if he prepares a LOT better for next time.

          Or it could be he is fundamentally incapable of performing well in this format, in which case it comes down to voter disgust with/anger at the powers that be. That might still carry him to a win (or Clinton to a loss, as might be more accurate; I can safely say I want NEITHER of them to win at this point, though I was looking for one of them to give me an excuse for optimism last night). And he might lose even if he gets more votes; I still can’t believe anyone thinks Clinton got more votes in the California primary. I was actually hoping Donald would make a case for handcounted paper ballots in all future elections; that would have actually swayed me to vote for him.

          Which gets to what I now think is key (assuming media propaganda doesn’t succeed in spinning last night as some kind of glorious performance by her that should leave us all feeling in good hands w/a Clinton presidency, which heaven knows they were trying) — Trump’s people mostly don’t view him as a great paragon of morality. The shady business dealings are sort of expected. I don’t think anyone believes he is consistent or always tells the truth or is going to start anytime soon. He just has to convince slightly more than half the people he will be a positive change from what we’ve been getting. He has to offer people real hope.

          If Clinton and the media keep it about who is better at coherently hitting bullet points in the debate format, as Lambert called it, then yeah by that metric she probably “won”. She might keep trashing him in this regard. But does it matter if you hit your talking points, if more than half the electorate basically discounts the credibility of every word you say?

          If he is able to keep the discussion around “where are we now, how did we get here, and where do we go from here?” he SHOULD be able to win. But NOT with hard right GOP talking points about “let the rich run even wilder than they are doing now and trust them to give everyone great jobs” or claiming money that is stashed overseas as, essentially, part of legal tax evasion is being “held hostage” and we just need to let the rich people move their ill-gotten gains around more freely. Both of these positions actually work against the “fight the power” narrative that propelled him to a primary win, would have propelled Bernie to a primary win if he hadn’t been cheated, and could have propelled Donald to a real win. Most of the GOP base want more taxes on the rich, iirc. If he keeps it about that she will be able to eviscerate him every time. I’m not sure how he recovers from that after such a public display; kind of late in the game to say “I studied things a bit more and have changed my mind”, though this could still work on global warming, simply because he’s been quiet about that recently. Shift the focus to trade and pray? Play up her hostility to Russia? No one in their right mind wants an armed conflict with another superpower, and I don’t think anyone sane much wants another cold war either.

          For purely domestic policy, since he chose stop and frisk as a point and probably doesn’t want to publicly reverse himself right away, maybe make the focus of stop and frisk only on illegal weapons while acknowledging the harm the drug war has done? Clearly state he doesn’t want to put more people in overcrowded jails for ticky tack parole violations, but wants to focus on stopping the violence? Talk about the tens of thousands of arrests and police encounters with the public that happen every day without incident, that we need to look at how we can make everything like that and get rid of the bad apples, and how poor communities want good law enforcement, not NO law enforcement.

          Saying “look what the other side has done for you, how could I be much worse?” is a good tactic when appealing to anyone even in the bottom 50 or 60%, much less the genuinely distressed, but he still needs to offer positions that show some sign he actually will make things better, but without sounding like he’s pandering a la Hillary and without convincing parts of his base to stay home. He doesn’t have to have all the answers yet, but needs to at least give people reason to think he will come up with something they will like.

          And convince people he’s willing to do the work to do all this, and not let Pence run the country. No one wants Pence. If it’s HRC vs Pence she wins. Period end stop. There’s a reason Trump trashed the GOP establishment candidates. They aren’t going to win anything nationally anymore. If Trump is just their mouthpiece he will lose. They are worse than Hillary is.

  60. John k

    The critical issue is, we’re undecideds moved?
    How about this blog? By definition, undecideds don’t much like either… Pretty much like NC. So who here is now decided? And which way?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Personally, I’m not sure laziness is a disqualifying characteristic in a Presidential candidate. If a machine is so broken that all its outputs are bad, then it behooves one to turn the crank more slowly than faster.

      OK, tongue in cheek, but not 100%

  61. eleanor rigby

    Just finished watching. She cleaned his clock, and I wanted to see him prevail. The exchange early in the debate about Trump not paying people … that really came back to mind when he started talking about how the countries we support don’t pay their fair share. Really hypocritical. Bad night for DT; he will be hopping mad, kind of like after that trip to Mexico. I wonder what his reaction will be in next day or two.

  62. ewmayer

    Scott Adams on one particular claim Trump made tonight:


    I think Adams is prone to tunnel vision – focusing on one thing he especially likes or dislikes – as exemplified by his recent switch in endorsement from Hillary (“for my safety, as I live in CA”) to Trump, based on Hillary’s endorsement (hard to tell if genuine or mere triangulation) of the estate tax.

    In tonight’s case, I suspect any points Trump may have won for the statement Adams focuses on were more than negated by his stop-and-frisk inanity, but being white like Adams, I can’t claim to speak for the AA community in any way.

    On a separate-but-related note, my sister – who strongly supported Bernie during the primaries – does seem to fit Adam’s claim that subjective impressions rule, and we humans busily construct rational-sounding narratives to justify our gut takes. In her case, she appears to have been as off-put by Hillary’s Martin-Shkreli-esque smug smirking as Yves was:

    I watched almost all of it and thought he did pretty well, in fact i thought he totally trounced her in many areas. I’m shocked to see every single mainstream media outlet say she was the clear winner and he was the total loser and unprepared. She was smug and ingenuous [sic – she clearly meant ‘dis’-], can’t stand her.

    1. Yves Smith

      Sanders supporters are not representative of anything other than Sanders supporters…but they do constitute a decent chuck of Dem voters and bigger chunk of independents. The ones who were paying attention were painfully of the MSM misrepresentations re Sanders, the DNC putting its finger on the scale (confirmed only by Wikileaks), Clinton campaign totally bogus attacks (BernieBros, when he had more female millennial supporters than male AND Clinton supporters were more aggressive in social media than Sanders supporters), and the rampant cheating in NY and even worse in CA. So there is a burning resentment of Clinton in many Sanders voters looking for continued proof of Clinton’s dishonesty and bad character.

      Having said all that, a contact who is a “pox on both their houses” type said the comments re Clinton’s smugness were widespread. The question is then how big a demerit that is to different voters.

  63. jgordon

    This was a pathetic performance all around. Hillary looked like a polished turd in the debate, compared to Trump who came off as an unpolished turd. My feeling is that Hillary was the “winner” though that word doesn’t seem suitable.

    I will preface this by saying that substance and issues are completely irrelevant now. If you are someone who cares about that stuff then you’re out of luck this time around.

    1) All the people who already like Trump thought he was great, while everyone who hates him will stick with Hillary. Independents, I don’t know. I can’t imagine that people are going to be motivated to do much of anything either way after that.

    2) Trump had multiple opputinites to destroy Hillary and end the race but passed them all up. The consequence is that this will continue dragging out. Hillary did about as well as she could have considering how compromised she is; she is lucky that Trump is was so unprepared.

    3) Trump had shown an ability to learn from his mistakes. I want to believe that he will immediately start doing preparation for the next debate rather than blowing this off. If he fails to, whether or not he can win will be in doubt.

    4) As someone else mentioned the one thing of actual import said tonight was by Hillary: she reiterated that she wants to get belligerent with Russia over these these cyber attacks, even though there is zero evidence of Russian involvement in them. This is a reaffirmation of of why Hillary scares the crap out of me, and the reason she is unfit to be president.

    5) We know something more about Trump’s character now: He’s a smart, lazy, loudmouthed braggart who relies on his very good intuition and people skills decide things. He wings everything because he can’t be bothered to study anything too deeply. Hillary? She is a very well scripted psychopath with bad people skills. And she enjoys war. Lots and lots of war.

    6) I’m going to call this debate a wash even if it was slightly in Hillary’s favor. Trump is still on a trajectory to win, he’s just going to have to put in actual effort accomplish that–which he should realize now.

    7) We are screwed no matter who is president in 2017, but simply as a matter of survival we have to support Trump.

    8) surprisingly Hillary didn’t keel over tonight. This is both good and bad. Good for Trump because Hillary is someone he’s likely to win against, bad for us because there is still a slight chance that Hillary could win, meaning that war war and more war, including nuclear war, could be on the agenda from 2017 on. I don’t believe we’ll survive that.

  64. Lambert Strether

    One more:

    Trump is talking about problems… Hillary is talking about solutions.Voters always want to hear solutions. #DebateNight— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) September 27, 2016

    So Clinton stole Trump’s clothes on law and order (which she would do; “super-predators,” for-profit prisons).

    1. EoinW

      Yes she jabbed him to death, while Trump held his punches. The question is: why? Having already done the Foreman trick of KOing five guys in one night, was he guarding against punching himself out? Seeing he’s already won debates with aggression, was he trying to win by playing defence? Am I simply reading into it what I want to – spinning for Trump to excuse a mediocre performance?

      I guess all politicians and non-politicians have their limitations. Trump’s talent is he’s a salesman and what he sells is himself. He’s not an intellectual. He’s likely not even a thoughtful person. What amused me most tonight was his egotism. Compared to Trump, if Narcissus looked at his reflection he’d be filled with self loathing.

  65. Hana M

    “Personally, I came out of this feeling more sympathetic to Trump as a person, believe it or not. I think he genuinely sees the infrastructural decay and it frosts him. Same with “you had 30 years to solve it.” Undeniably true; Clinton’s whole “let’s build on our success” schtick is such a steaming lot of 10%-er-ness. But if Trump wants to make this election a referendum on the political class, he’s going to have to do a lot better than this. If you regard success in the debate as emitting presidential markers (like NATO Article 5), then Clinton unquestionably won.”

    Well said and thanks for doing this, Lambert. I went to bed right after the debate so it’s great to get a recap with this excellent comment thread. I watched on C-Span and after the debate the candidates went down to the foot of the stage and it seemed that apart from family no one wanted to shake Trump’s hand. The whole crowd was around Clinton. Trump and his family just looked at each other and headed for the exit. It was weird and sad.

  66. stefan

    Did Trump suffer a mini-stroke on stage? After slurring a word, he began to answer questions for a while with incoherent, freely associated chains of slogans and phrases. This, about the time he blurted out about Hillary’s stamina–, psychological projection perhaps? Then he began to list to his left and lean pronouncedly on his podium. After the debate, he left the hall rather too promptly. Was the elderly Trump physically fit enough to withstand a one-on-one 90 minute debate?

    1. chuck roast

      He must have suffered a stroke…or he invented a new word…”bigly”.
      This is huuuge.
      Smarty-pants, her-herness-herself couldn’t do that.
      Me? I’m given’ the “show” to Il Douche because he managed to expand the English language.
      Bigly! I am totally on board. Like hugely. “It was bigly effective.” That doesn’t sound quite right, but maybe hair-boy can figure it out.


    The responses heard in Canada include a promise that if Trump wins the election they will build a WALL and the Americans will pay for it…

    The Chinese out trumped Trump with being the first to build a GREAT WALL!

  68. Mary Wehrheim

    “The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable!”― Oscar Wilde
    While Oscar was describing fox hunting, I think the analogy applies equally to the blood sport we just witnessed.

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