It was two against one in the Monday night presidential debate. We had moderator Lester Holt, who apparently assumed he was a candidate, too, and Hillary Clinton, well-equipped with policy malformations, against Donald Trump. Trump wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated — much closer to reality on the economy, police, guns and Iran, for instance, if issues still count in this contest.
Again and again, the ill-informed, biased Holt asked Trump tough, personal questions and, when he didn’t like the answers, interrupted him in a way that should have been left up to Clinton, who was spared an equivalent assault. They call it fact-checking, but this was a debate, not a reporter’s interview, and he had some facts utterly confused.
The economy was issue number one, and Clinton espoused the usual, worsening federal interventions, the most absurd being President Barack Obama’s global warming plan. Now before the Supreme Court, the clearly unconstitutional plan could cost all kinds of fossil fuel jobs, as Trump pointed out.
Through subsidies, it could also hurt the green industry, which would do better by heeding market demands. It would raise utility rates, damn the economy with energy deprivations and, according to experts, do next to nothing by itself to affect global warming by century’s end.
Trump had it right when he talked about a hefty reduction of the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world and otherwise arranging a means to bring home billions earned abroad. Clinton said he had no plan to do either, which is either a lie or ignorance. Holt, ever alert on Trumpian mishaps, said nary a word.
Trump went overboard as usual on his trade attacks, although reviewing some provisions in some treaties could make sense. Both are wrong on the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that could be important economically as well as diplomatically. The difference is that Trump comes at it sincerely, while Clinton, who helped formulate it and praised it to the skies, is now against it as a matter of political convenience. In other words, deviousness remains her middle name.
Clinton was also wrong on thinking background checks are the answer to too many guns in criminal hands. Go ahead and expand them, but there is no evidence that they work, whereas there is plenty of evidence about the effectiveness of stop-and-frisk as recommended by Trump to save thousands of lives in Chicago. Both Clinton and Holt made it sound as if stop-and-frisk was now illegal, at least in New York City, when what we have had instead is an officially condemned ruling by a federal judge that it had been unconstitutionally applied in the city.
There was lots more to the debate, of course, and Trump repeated old stupidities along with too much self-defensive focus on himself. But that was caused in no small part by Holt hitting him with questions on such things as not turning over his tax returns, his long-term refusal to give his birther theory a funeral and his saying Clinton did not look like a president. If Holt thought that was a service to the American people, why didn’t he think it a service to bring up the Clinton Foundation, the FBI’s condemnation of how she handled classified material as secretary of state or her own ways of being hurtful to women.
Clinton, at the end, smashed Trump with things he should never have said about individual women, and — showing signs of needed self-control — he was gentlemanly enough not to bring up the way her husband ruined the lives of multiple women and she colluded in their defamation.
That’s real trashiness to go along with continued leftism sufficient to devastate America as we have known it. Just as Trump decided not to invite Gennifer Flowers to the debate, it’s now his job to correct himself sufficiently to keep Clinton out of the White House. Impossible? We will see.
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Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at [email protected]