Does anyone else feel like many Americans do not understand what a debate is? The “winner” is not the one who talked loudest, interrupted most, hurled the most insults, or got in the most zingers. A debate, a Presidential Debate especially, is supposed to be a place where each participant gives detailed answers about their proposed policies and how they will implement them, and why they think their way is best.
While Secretary Clinton did move away from the questions as quickly and as often as she could, she at least made an attempt to answer the policy questions put before her, giving details about what she would like to do about the economy, health care, energy, Syria, inner cities, taxes, the Supreme court and more. While I didn’t always agree with her positions, at least I feel like I know more about where she stands, and that she understands the complexities of the issues and has thought about them.
Mr. Trump, on the other hand, answered only two questions with any kind of specificity. He answered “How would you make sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share” with a promise to give them and corporations big tax breaks. Granted, that doesn’t make any sense, but at least he stated that he feels the wealthiest Americans and corporations pay too much tax. The second was about the Supreme Court, where he stated he would like to find another Antonin Scalia.
The rest of the time he ignored or paid lip service to the question, and instead chose to talk about whatever else was on his mind. He felt it more important to talk about Bill Clinton’s sex life 20-30 years ago, repeat a bunch of Internet gossip and slander, call his opponent “the Devil” and avow that he somehow knew for sure that “she has hatred in her heart”, and to complain that he wasn’t being allowed to interrupt enough. His answer to just about every policy questions was two-fold. First, the way things are now are terrible, absolutely the worst, a disaster, and most likely Secretary Clinton’s fault. The second part is he would fix this by making things better, things will be so good, you won’t believe how good he will make things, because he will work on it bigly. He seemed to have no clear idea of how the government he wants to lead works, he apparently doesn’t understand the justice system, he seems clueless as to the specific challenges of health care, and has no idea of what is going on in the world of foreign relations other than a couple of buzzwords and catch phrases. “ISIS!”, for example.
I feel like Mr. Trump is running an “Underpants Gnomes” style campaign. Remember the South Park episode? Only in this case the steps are:
Phase 1: Elect Mr. Trump
Phase 2: ??????
Phase 3: America is Great Again!
So let’s ignore the crude and vulgar things he has said on tape, let’s ignore that in the same sentence he said both that he paid no taxes and he paid millions in taxes, let’s forget about whether Bill Clinton is sleazier than Donald J, let’s forget all of the lies and slanders, heck let’s even forget that he threatened to have his opponent jailed when elected (so much for a fair trial), and I’ll even concede that maybe “bigly” is a real word I never heard before.
I still just want to know one thing – what is the mysterious “Phase 2”? What specific changes in policy would he suggest to deal with the issues facing us today, and why does he think those will work? How will he pay for his proposals? All I know after two debates and over three hours, is that he will give himself a tax break, and replace Scalia with another homophobic bigot on the Supreme Court.
How did we get to this point in our political system? How is it possible to have a better idea of how a candidate stands on the complex Rosie O’Donnell issue than to hear a clear statement of how he would deal with humanitarian relief in Syria? Surely the Republicans could have come up with a candidate whose debating style is not just “Oh yeah, well you’re worse!” and “No I di-n’t!”. Seriously, I felt like Secretary Clinton could have flummoxed him completely with a well-timed riposte like “I know you are, but what am I?”
So today we see more of the same. Mr. Trump’s supporters continue to paint him as a victim, and to assert that he has won the debate, and “polls” show he is winning the election. And does his latest campaign ad spell out how he will deal with energy issues, or how he will bring jobs back from China (like the jobs making his clothing line)? No, it is a smear ad suggesting that Secretary Clinton is feeble and sickly.
We get it, Mr. Trump. You are not Hillary Clinton. Is it too much to ask that maybe in the last debate you will give the American people some specific answers as to why you are any better?