That Hillary Clinton won.
But, and I say this despite any admitted bias I may have with regard to Donald Trump's candidacy, I think it is clear and undeniable that Trump came out of this debate as the clear winner. Hands down. Look, I try to be fair in any analysis I make—on both sides for that matter. I thought Trump also clearly lost the first debate, and for a variety of reasons. That is, to my mind, a fair and honest judgement.
One thing that stood out for me in this second round was that Trump appeared way more prepared than usual to discuss the issues, and to lay out in more detail exactly what he wants to do, and more importantly, how he intends to do it. He was also considerably more contained than is his usual modus operandi as well. Something that I think is exactly what he needed to do in order to sway some on-the-fence voters, and perhaps to also solidify any voters in his base who may have been considering, for whatever reason, to jump ship.
Forget any establishment republicans who may have already jumped that ship. They are jumping for other reasons—of course.
The truth is that Donald Trump was on message, and frankly on-target. The one thing that few in the liberal media will give him credit for is how he effectively managed to shut down the discussion of the leaked tape. Both the moderators and Hillary Clinton, I think, quickly drew the conclusion that if they were to further discuss the issue, Trump would have effectively unloaded myriad talking points with regard to Bill Clinton's infidelities and misdeeds—and Clinton would have been in a very uncomfortable and difficult situation defending that. It took only a few strong words and a suggestion to allow the moderators, and even Clinton, to move on to the next issue. Had Trump not been so effective in his response to this issue, it may well have been the entire focus of the evening and he would have lost.
And of course, winner of the best line of the night also goes to Donald Trump when he suggested that had Trump been in charge of the law, Clinton would have been in jail. Despite obvious gasps from some in the audience at that remark—but I suspect many of those gasps came from Clinton supporters—I think the audience at least understood more clearly the seriousness of the issue of her emails as a whole. In preceding and following remarks I think Trump was able to convey two key issues with regard to the emails.
- Hillary Clinton has stated over and over again that she is best equipped to handle classified information, yet clearly her handling of the emails sent and received while she was Secretary of State via an unsecured server clearly breach that assertion—Trump also reminded voters that she lied to the FBI, and even reminded Clinton herself of her statement that she did not know what the letter "C" meant.
- It is impossible to know who may or may not have had access to her server and who may have gotten hold of any of the emails she sent or received—missing or not. This is potentially a serious threat to national security.
There is one more thought on the question of whether or not anyone who may be our enemy may have potentially gotten hold of classified information. How do we know that someone may not be holding on to that information to use it much later against us in some way? The server was not secured, no one really knows whether or not it was in fact compromised, and if it were, it would be difficult to know who was responsible for it.
Trump was very right to point out that only the media has seen this issue of her emails as "one to sweep aside as not that big of a deal." And I think he did so brilliantly.
And of course Trump also, I think, won the argument about taxes when he pointed out that even had he not paid taxes, he was still operating within the law—unlike what she had done with her emails—and that he was simply using the tax code as it was written by lawmakers. And he was very good to point out as well that singling him out for using the tax code as it was intended was foolish since every single rich person, armed with accountants and lawyers, would use the tax code in exactly the same way regardless of their party affiliations. His comments regarding this issue were much more effective, I think, than simply saying he was "smart." This laid out a more detailed rationale. And I think the audience got it when Trump also effectively pointed out two key things about taxes.
- Trump was not in a position to CHANGE tax laws. He was only in a position to FOLLOW tax laws, and to USE provisions in the tax laws as they were written by lawmakers. Clinton, on the other hand, was clearly better positioned in her former roles to make changes or push for changes if that is what she had wanted to do. She did say she was always against this or that item in the tax code—but while touting 400 pieces of legislation with her name on it, she did not single out a single piece of legislation with her name on it that addressed changes to the tax code.
- He clearly stated an area of the tax code he wanted to change, and that would be carried interest. He said he used it like anyone would because, under the current tax code, it's what you do. But if he had his way, he would change it.
I think all in all Donald Trump explained most of his positions well. Be it his position on Syrian refugees, illegal immigration, the corporate tax rate and how lowering it would help businesses to better compete, and put more money in the pockets of the middle class, to explaining effectively why it can be harmful to let our enemies know what our intentions or timelines happen to be in any action we may take.
I have always advocated that nations need some secrets in order to ensure national security.
Clinton, on the other hand, and for the first time for me, looked a bit frazzled—even surprised—by what was going down. I think Clinton was thoroughly convinced that this debate would go entirely a different direction. I can just hear the discussions before the debate, "With this tape out there, Trump will have nothing else to talk about...and we finish him." But that of course did not happen, and Clinton did not see any of what Trump delivered coming. The fact that he delivered with mostly tact and only once really raised his voice, and was well versed in the issues—all of this put Clinton clearly off kilter, and if anyone looked unprepared for this debate it was Hillary Clinton.
To be honest, despite my misgivings regarding the moderators which still leaned obviously left, I did find myself a bit surprised by some of the audience questions which put Clinton a bit in the hot seat. But, it was a town hall style. And even staunch Clinton cohorts will readily admit that when it comes to town hall's, Clinton always fares poorly.
My thinking is because she has trouble actually talking about issues that aren't rehearsed, has trouble with questions she does not expect, and does not resonate well with the American people in general.
As I said in an earlier post, the media and the polls that follow will all do their best to tell a story about a Clinton victory. They will do their best to suggest that the entire election is tilted in Clinton's favor. They will continue to flaunt any gains she may make in polls as "huge support gains" even though we all know that the steepest gains during this entire election has come from Donald Trump. 11 point swings are huge support gains in polls. Not 1 or 2 percentage point swings, But that's not how the media likes to tell the story.
In a nutshell, Trump won. Nuff said. Will he go on to win the final debate? Who knows? It depends on whether or not Trump can continue in the way he did with this last debate, and it depends on how well he can defend or deflect from any other garbage the left may try to pull out of the woodwork to shift the discussion from the issues, to what Donald Trump says or does.