Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Take: The First Presidential Debate

How many times did I hear "It was the worst thing ever?" And it was. I also heard "surreal" used in the post debate discussions.

I heard Trump flip-flop on the tax return situation? He went from  "No" to "If she does, I will."

There were a lot of statements made during the debate. Many false, some true based upon the political fact checking site Politifact. The New York Times also published an article this morning fact checking the debate. 

I felt that Lester Holt had great questions, but it was clear that at least one of the candidates never took a debating class in school. He was thuggish and talked over top of the others when they were speaking, while there are some who appreciate that approach, it is not conducive to addressing the issues.

In my estimation Trump generally overstated facts or just made statement that had no basis in fact, like the following statement he made about Hillary and ISIS, from the New York Times:

On Mr. Trump saying Mrs. Clinton had been “fighting ISIS your entire adult life.” 
In reality, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, began as an Al Qaeda affiliate that sprang up in Iraq as the Sunni insurgency amid the power vacuum created by the American invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003. It was largely defeated and pushed into Syria during the Obama administration’s first term, when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state. It eventually split from the original Al Qaeda and rebranded itself as ISIS, sweeping back into Iraq in 2014, when she was out of office.
—Charlie Savage
I was looking for four things during the debate: leadership, integrity, context and details. Here are my grades for the candidates based upon what I heard:

                                      Trump            Clinton

Leadership        -                 +

Integrity         -                 +                   

Context           -                 -

Details           -                 -

In terms winner or loser? Neither candidate clearly won, but Trump was the bigger loser. His grasp of context and basic facts highlighted his lack of preparation and his "I'll just wing it" approach to something as important as the debate. He apparently believes that debates are a performance and not something materially important to the process of selecting a President.

One statement which clearly demonstrates his failure to grasp context was the statement about the $14 million loan he received form his father to start his business. The New York Times fact checker details it as follows:

On Mr. Trump’s loan from his father.
Mrs. Clinton said it was $14 million in loans from Mr. Trump’s father that helped him get his real estate business off the ground. Mr. Trump said it was just a “small” loan. A recent Wall Street Journal article notes a series of loans and gifts that Mr. Trump received from his father, citing a casino disclosure document from 1985 showing that Mr. Trump owed his father and his father’s company about $14 million.
—Steve Eder

Seriously, someone who can call a $14 million loan small lacks context. 

Trump also said, in the Spin Room, after the debate: "I'm smart for paying no taxes." So a man who would be President believes he is smart for failing to pay taxes? 

Who won and who lost? 

My Take: Chuck Todd, the moderator of Meet the Press, said it best--there was a big loser tonight and it was the American people.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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