Trump Vs. Clinton, Round 1: More Tedious than Titanic.

So, the moment we were all waiting for! The big show! Monster versus monster, in an epic throw-down between two of the most dreadful candidates ever nominated… Or was it? Not being in favor of either of these contenders, though perhaps being slightly more against Hillary (we have a longer history of enmity), I didn’t feel that I had a dog in this fight. However, I was looking forward to an epic clash, hoping to at least see a good show and momentarily forget that one of these horrors will afterwards end up leading the country! This was supposed to be the one joy I was to going to get out of the remainder of this election, watching Trumpzilla and Mecha-Hillary savage each other for 90 minutes! “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war.” Unfortunately, it was hopelessly anticlimactic and very disappointing. How could this be? All of the drama of the campaign was building to this point! This was THE moment that a candidate like Trump was chosen for, but in the end it was a huge let-down.

TrumpensteinTrump came out strong, at first. Trying to take charge and even slyly doing his thing where he shows disrespect by being respectful. Hillary initially fumbled, trying out a few pet names for Trump policy and failing miserably. She really ought to leave the name-calling to Trump; she doesn’t do it with the same panache. Don’t get me wrong, Donald wasn’t really winning on substance. Trump was using his usual shtick of saying anything he needed to, if he thought it would help him, leaving the voters to sort through and decide which parts he meant and which ones he didn’t.  His answers were often confused and often off-topic, but at least in style, this served him well. However, things quickly went downhill.

Donald let Hillary get away with calling him out on the birther issue without retorting that it was originally the Hillary camp that aired this conspiracy theory during her previous failed bid for the Democrat nomination. This was a clear error. Also, his actual defense against this came off as very weak. And as if this wasn’t bad enough, Trump didn’t know where to quit on the e-mail issue. He had a chance to address her challenge about releasing his tax returns with a curt retort asking when she was going to release the 30,000 e-mails she deleted from her illegal private server. Instead, he ruined an otherwise excellent opportunity to leave his audience wanting more by ineffectively going on and on about it, pitiably adding how much his lawyers advised him that he doesn’t need to release his tax returns. This is where things really started to turn against the Donald.

After this, Hillary started to get her pace. She was even able to let Trump make the case for her, tacking onto Trump’s boorish quip with her own version of “There you go again.” And Trump, as if trying to assist Hillary, started talking about the areas where they agreed, clearly trying to appeal to his own tribe of liberals. At one point, Trump endorsed the “no-fly, no-buy” proposal, an unconstitutional abridgement of the second amendment! Although he’s been in favor of U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton gestures from the stage at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denverthis for a while, never before has this particular position received this kind of public airing. It is likely to cost with his base. Even his interrupting himself on this topic to remind the audience of his NRA endorsement will probably do nothing to help him mitigate the damages.

Most excruciating of all, at least for those of us who tried to reason with the Trump crowd during the primary that this was likely to happen should Donald become the nominee, Hillary laid into Trump on his bad record with women and race! Donald could not properly parry this. He was so much on defense that he wasn’t able to strike back effectively. Even his well-worn claim of how his opponent was “unfair” couldn’t save him. Trump ridiculously commented on how nasty Hillary had been to him in ads and so forth, and how he was going to hit her back by saying something nasty as well. Mercifully, he thought better of it, but made sure to let us all know that he held himself back! Who is Trump getting his debate advice from? Mike Huckabee? Pathetic.

Although Hillary presented like an automaton, I have to agree that she came off much better than Trump in this debate and is likely to get a small bounce in the polls. Trump came of as rambling, uninformed, and weak, not at all like he’d prefer to be seen: the alpha male. Hillary appeared prepared and with a working knowledge of the issues, while Trump appeared underprepared and was ill-served by his usually effective off-the-cuff extemporaneousness. Though not a KO (more like a TKO), It’s clear that Hillary won this one. Too bad. I was so much looking forward to something more decisive, dramatic, and entertaining; I had little else to look forward to with a binary choice of essentially two Democrats. However, I was even denied even this! And to think, the GOP nominee could have been Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, someone who understands the issues and could have really sunk the knife into her highness! Instead, what we ended up with was a candidate who shows himself to be, in almost every way, out of his depth. I think that this race is once again Hillary’s to lose. The Trumpster will fight again, but this time he woefully underestimated his opponent, and I’m not sure that he has it in him to turn this thing around.

– Ryan Thorson