With my head still throbbing from watching Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton, I will attempt to give my thoughts on the debate. This just a stream of consciousness from what I remember.
Let’s begin with some stylistic points. Hillary Clinton seemed far more rehearsed and polished in last night’s debate that Donald Trump. That is not to say that Trump was not prepared, but he seemed to be speaking his mind more than giving sound bites. He also seemed to be a little scattered to me, going off topic on a few occasions. He spoke at length on questions that had nothing to do with the real issues. Hillary, on the other hand, did come off as just another politician with her rehearsed lines. She did not do anything to distance herself from the political class. Her objective in these debates should be to give people more reason to trust her and vote for her, which I did not think she did last night. She did not succeed in humiliating Trump either.
With regards to the moderation, I think it can be objectively said that Lester Holt was favoring Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump was asked questions about his tax returns, bankruptcies, birtherism, sexism and racism during the debate. He hit every single Democratic party talking point with his questions. Trump was never asked about immigration or building the wall, healthcare or his tax plan. Holt never questioned Hillary Clinton on her emails. He did not even question her support of the war in Iraq, though he went out of his way to nail Trump on an interview he gave with Howard Stern in 2002. Holt even argued with Trump saying that he was in favor of the war when he never did. The moderator should not be arguing with one of the candidates! It is important to remember, that Trump was not a politician before this election cycle. When he says he is in favor of something or not, it is in a totally different context than a politician expressing the same sentiment. Trump never made any promises to constituents which turned out to be false. It was Hillary Clinton who actually voted in favor of the Iraq War as a senator.
If I were Trump, my answer to the question on tax returns would be the following: What is in my tax returns does not matter. The American people are going to judge me on my policies. Can we please start talking about immigration, the wall or the economy? Do you have a substantive question Mr. Holt?
While we are on the subject of taxes, Hillary Clinton brought out the shopworn leftist argument that the rich need to pay their fair share in taxes. First of all, there is no way to determine what their “fair share” is. The top fifth of earners in the United States paid 83.9% of the income taxes in 2014. The three million people in the top 1% of earners paid nearly half the income tax. The bottom 40% of income earners actually paid a negative percentage of the income taxes. This means that they are receiving more in government benefits than they are paying in taxes. The rich are not just paying their share, they are paying almost everyone’s share.
Trump was also asked to defend his tax plan. Holt asked him to defend tax cuts for the wealthy. Well, Trump is actually cutting taxes across the board and even taxing married couples who earn less than $50,000 at 0%. He went on to say that he would also cut the corporate tax from 39.6% to 15%. This will bring back about $2.5 trillion (maybe more) that is currently overseas. It will lead to more job creation in America in addition to allowing corporations to keep more of their money and use it to pay its workers and drive up demand. The government can help grow the economy by simply taking less of the people’s money. Clinton said that Trump’s tax plan would add $5 trillion to the national debt. This would only be true if government spending isn’t cut and there is not economic growth resulting from the tax cuts. It also does not take into account the effect of deporting millions of illegal immigrants who are consuming welfare on the budget.
Clinton also proposed government enforced revenue-sharing in businesses. Companies do share revenue with their workers, in the form of their paychecks. The revenue that the business makes goes to paying the workers. If the people who run the company want to make an agreement with their workers to share profits, that is fine. The trouble comes when the government forces it. It may work in some companies, but it could be a disaster in many others. The matter should really be left to the market to decide.
Clinton also attacked Trump for his business practices. She claimed that he did not pay many people over the years that he has done business. She did not cite any specific examples of people who were not paid. If Trump really had swindled all of those people, why did people continue to do business with him? You do not make billions of dollars by dissatisfying all of the people that you work with. It is also rich for Hillary Clinton to complain about people not getting paid when she left four people to die in Benghazi as Secretary of State. She also mentioned the law suit that Trump settled without admission to guilt. When you are renting property out to people, you want tenants who can pay their rent. Unfortunately, New York City is expensive and blacks and hispanics have lower incomes that whites and asians. Instead of normalizing by race, we should really be normalizing by income. Trump was not found guilty of discrimination and settled the lawsuit because he only looked at the income of his tenants, not their race.
On the topic of race relations, Trump made the point about how people in the inner cities are being used for votes by the Democrat party. I have made this point in earlier posts. I think it is hard to the Democrats to argue that they are the ones who can improve the lot of black Americans after decades of not producing positive change. Clinton went on to say that everyone in the country is biased against black people and that the police need to be trained differently. I believe that she sent a very harmful message to black Americans, because she is telling them that the country is working against them. Why would blacks want to better themselves when they are told that racism is keeping them down? Speaking of racists, Hillary Clinton’s late mentor Robert Byrd was a member of the KKK and was against the civil rights act. I am glad the Trump brought up Clinton’s comment about black youths being “superpredators.” I think that would have come as a surprise to most people. Clinton also complained about mandatory minimums, which is something that her own husband put into effect when he was in office.
Trump mentioned how stop and frisk laws helped bring down crime in New York City under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The number of murders did indeed go down from 2,605 in 1990 to 952 in 2001, Giuliani’s last year in office. Stop and frisk encounters in NYC are set to plunge by 42% this year. Violent crime is up citywide — 109 murders this year, 10 more than last year. There have been 404 people shot this year, a 9% spike compared with the 371 shot during the same period last year. While libertarians may disagree with it, I think it is a good measure to ensure that criminals do not carry guns.
Clinton has a remarkable ability of criticizing others for things that either she has done herself. The birther issue is an example, Hillary’s associates are on record saying that she was the one who brought it up first. I don’t think that Trump explained it well, as Americans do not care for the names of all the associates. Also, it is not racist for either Clinton or Trump to ask whether or not Obama was born in America. They did not bring up the issue because Obama is black, but simply to assess if he is eligible to run. Ted Cruz faced similar questions when he was running in the primaries and nobody said that it was because of racism.
When the subject of cybersecurity came up, I relished the prospect of Trump nailing Hillary Clinton on her illegal private server and emails. Clinton was the one who put national security at risk when she left classified information on an insecure server. The Director of the FBI James Comey said that Clinton and her colleagues “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” Trump had the perfect ammunition to nail Clinton on cybersecurity and instead pulled his punches. I was disappointed that he did not pounce on that opportunity.
To conclude, we will go over Donald Trump’s overwhelming sexism. Hillary Clinton brought up Alicia Machado, who was Miss Universe in 1996. She claims that Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.” There is no way to confirm any of this, we only have her word, which is shaky. One of the terms of her contract as Miss Universe is that she must maintain her image. She had gained too much weight too quickly. Companies were withdrawing her endorsements, one of which was Kellogg USA. Trump said that it was “a big problem.” Clinton brought it up during the debate as a way to shame Trump. I think it may have backfired. In turns out that Machado was accused of driving a getaway car in a murder and then threatened the life of a judge in Venezuela in 1998. The judge, Maximiliano Fuenmayor traced her identity through her cell phone. She called him after he indicted her boyfriend, who is currently in a federal penitentiary in Mexico for drug charges. Machado claimed that she had called him to thank him for “his unbiased pursuit of justice.” When she was questioned on this by Anderson Cooper, she said that “Everybody has a past. I’m not a saint girl…That happened 20 years ago.” Notice how she doesn’t deny what happened. It’s funny how she is going on television blasting Trump for what he allegedly said in the past when she is willing to gloss over what she did 20 years ago. It is suspicious that Machado got her citizenship given that she was associated with a drug kingpin. This was just an orchestrated PR campaign that is meant to appeal to single women and latinos. It is disturbing how the media just ran with this narrative without vetting Miss Venezuela. If Hillary Clinton can’t even vet a former Miss Universe she is using to help her campaign, how is she going to vet the Syrian refugees that she wants to bring to America? I think all of this shows that Trump is doing quite well.
I believe that this debate did not change the prospects for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton very much. I think this will work to Trump’s advantage as he had the momentum leading up to the debate. Furthermore, he came off as more genuine in his speaking style that Clinton, who was very rehearsed. We will see how things pan out in the last two debates, and whether or not they sway the American electorate.