I wasn’t going to watch it.
After all: Why bother? The nation just watched Donald Trump’s campaign implode over something horribly distasteful; we mostly agree now that he has no chance to win. And I really dislike Senator Clinton*. So why put myself through that torment?
Well, two reasons: One, I had just consumed an excellent meal and was too full to move comfortably. Two, I was at someone else’s house and there was nowhere to run. So I set my back to the television and tried to read my book, a Stephen King about geriatric energy vampires that was far less grim than the politicians promised to be. (I was unsuccessful in that attempt.)
As expected, it was exquisitely painful: Trump was stiff and embarrassed about the sex thing; Clinton was stiff and embarrassed about the email thing; both said foul things about each other. In a surprise twist, a second moderator was brought in, and while both seemed to hate Trump more than Clinton, at least Anderson Cooper tried to be equally harsh to both. And all the while former President Bill Clinton sat back in the audience looking very distracted by Trump’s guests.
In the end, I have to say that Trump won by not doing as badly as Clinton. He warmed up as the night progressed, and at times he almost seemed human. While Clinton was far more personable and pleasant to listen to, we have higher expectations for her; he won by not being as horrible as expected.
People who watched kept commenting on him bombing Clinton’s shots whenever it was her turn to talk. He was distracting, rude, kept moving close to her. Since this is a tactic frequently employed in direct negotiations, I can’t say I’m surprised — but I can say I’m glad I wasn’t watching. It helped me concentrate on the few important things they said.
But the true winner, I gotta say, is Gary Johnson; I think everyone who watched is slightly more likely today to vote against both of them. (I’m not alone; the Washington Times thinks so too.) The Libertarian candidate was excluded from joining them on the stage so he sat in his hotel room and live-Tweeted the debate. Some of his responses were hilarious; you should check them out.
NOTE: I was advised that my post was actually two posts in disguise, so by special request I’ve split it in two and expanded each part a wee bit to round it out. To read the other half, click here.
* “Senator” Clinton: While I gather she prefers, for political purposes at least, to be called Secretary Clinton, my understanding of the etiquette involved is that this would be unjust to the present Secretary of State. She can be referred to as Senator, however, just as a former governor could be given the courtesy title of Governor or a retired ship’s captain called Captain. But former Secretaries, just like former Presidents, are referred to as such including the “former”, because there can be only one of them at a time. Therefore, I call her Senator Clinton, meaning absolutely no disrespect thereby.