Debate, Part II: Dumpster Fire Redux

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are introduced during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

My initial take on last night’s debate is that Trump was better than he was in the first.  He was more disciplined, better prepared, and he took every available opportunity to attack Hillary’s vulnerabilities.

I do not think it was enough.

Trump’s supporters are ecstatic, and therein lies the problem: anyone predisposed to hate Hillary loved Trump’s performance, especially when he told Hillary “You’d be in jail” if he were president.  I suspect that to most ordinary non-partisans, however, it seemed childish, like two kids arguing in the back seat on a long car trip.

The same could be said for when he said Hillary had thirty years to fix every problem facing America.  Most Americans know the meat grinder of passing laws in Washington isn’t so simple, and Hillary nailed him on it when she pointed out presidents have a veto power.

Trump’s defense of his taped conversation about grabbing women by their genitals as “locker room talk” is patently ridiculous.  Most men do not talk that way, even in a locker room.  It was odious and creepy, unbecoming of someone seeking the presidency.  “Yeah, but Bill Clinton” doesn’t cut it, and I doubt it helped him with suburban women, either.

Trump was better when he went after the failures of Obamacare, but I found myself hearing Marco Rubio mocking him over his state lines mantra as he presented his own solution.  Trump is no policy wonk, to put it mildly.

Even when I found myself agreeing with one of Trump’s points, his presentation is so angry and confrontational, I can’t find it within myself to like him.  It suspect he repeats talking points from the comments section at Breitbart.  The failure of Democrats to help blacks and other minorities in inner cities, for example, is typical blog fodder, true as far as it goes, but Trump offers no solutions of his own, leaving bare an implication that minorities are dumb for supporting Democrats.  It’s unlikely to win any converts.

Trump didn’t hurt himself in this debate, but he didn’t persuade anyone, either.  This was red meat for Trumpanzees.  He stalked the stage in a bitter rage that mirrors theirs. If this kind of thing put you on the Trump train to begin with, you’re fired up.  If you’re on the sidelines like me, you still don’t want a ticket.

The GOP should still cut Trump loose before next shoe drops and they lose Congress, but we’re talking about Republicans here.  They’re unlikely to risk further angering Trump and his hordes of know-nothings by kicking him to the curb where he belongs.  They didn’t get where they are by having spines.

At least Hillary doesn’t need to measure the drapes before moving into the Oval Office.  I bet she still has a set from last time she was there.