Presidential Debate #2: Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton at Washington University
Like, I don’t even know what happened this weekend. I am at a loss.
I’m old enough that I was around when Bill Clinton was getting dragged through the news every night for endless months over his sexcapades. I remember a 50-year-old man trying to convince the nation that BJs didn’t count as sex. I remember all of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, mutually agreeing that, yes, indeed, this was absolutely the worst it was ever going to get, the cheapest, the tawdriest, the most embarrassing. Everything would be better from here out, because there was nowhere to go but up.
And then we got this weekend.
In case you’re, like, a cave man that just got defrosted this morning or something, here’s a quick review of this weekend’s events.
Friday afternoon the Washington Post broke the news that they had an old tape of Donald Trump from 1995, where Donald Trump was caught on a hot mic saying some pretty icky stuff. It was vulgar for starters, with Trump talking about how he tried to have sex with a married woman, but then he went for the coup de gras by announcing that he could “grab [women] by the pussy” and get away with it because he was a celebrity.
The whole Internet burned down over this. Just burned right to the goddamn ground. I mean, this is a presidential candidate talking about the textbook definition of sexual assault. The most generous reading of this line would still be sexual harassment.
Something like seven hours later, 12:30am EST, the Trump campaign people finally got Trump on a Facebook Live video giving a stilted non-apology that turned into an attack on Hillary Clinton, dredging up Bill Clinton’s infidelity and accusing her of alt-right conspiracy theories.
It turned out that there were still some parts of the Internet left standing, and those burned down overnight. By Saturday morning, Twitter was salting the Earth and solemnly intoning that nought would ever grow here again.
Meanwhile, Saturday, the GOP went into a panic-stricken meltdown, deserting Trump like rats off a sinking ship. By Sunday morning, the entire political landscape of America was a barren, radioactive wasteland, and all across Twitter, War Boys could be heard gunning their engines and firing up their flaming heavy metal guitarist.
And then, this ridiculous shit happened. Yep. That’s Donald Trump, a grown-ass man running for the highest elected position in the land, horrifically exploiting three of Bill Clinton’s accusers and one poor woman who’s fallen victim to a conspiracy theory, in an attempt to intimidate Hillary Clinton, a half-hour before the second presidential debate was scheduled to begin. Like, I don’t even know words for how gross and skeezy and mind-bogglingly unbelievable this was to watch. Even the reporters were freaked out over this turn of events.
At this point, we were all pretty sure that this debate would usher in the End Times. Unless you were a Trump supporter, in which case you thought Trump was having the BEST WEEKEND EVAR, and his little live video stunt with the four women was THE MOST AWESOME THING A MAN HAD EVER DONE.
The debate was… bizarre.
This second debate was intended to be a town hall debate, which means, in theory, the audience of pre-selected undecided voters got to ask Clinton and Trump questions, along with some questions submitted via social media, and the candidates were supposed to stick to answering the questions. The moderators were allowed to ask clarifying questions if needed.
The point of this kind of debate is for the candidates to directly address the audience, and through them, the American people. The idea is for the candidates to humanize themselves, clarify policy stances, and take the opportunity to appear friendly, knowledgeable, likeable, etc. It’s meant to be more of a conversation than a debate.
Instead, we got 90 minutes of sniffing, snarling, attack dog Trump, lurking around behind Hillary Clinton and trying to intimidate her. Clinton, for her part, was unflappable, although I don’t think her calm demeanor and smiles of disbelief at Trump helped her as much in this debate as it did in the first one.
The debate itself was anticlimactic. After threatening all weekend to attack Hillary Clinton over Bill Clinton’s failings, it fell flat when Trump finally did so. His angry attacks just seemed like tired bluster. And the way he stalked Clinton around the stage creeped out most everyone. Still, it seems like we’re calling the debate for Clinton, although she didn’t win as handily as she did in the first debate.
Of course, there’s still more fallout.
Yesterday the RNC paused parts of the Victory project, which is their campaign with Trump to get his elected. A lot of places were reporting this on Sunday as the RNC yanking funding from Trump, but that doesn’t appear to be the case, as far as I can tell. They seem to have just stopped some of the fundraising mailings, probably so they can get the names of senators and representatives who dumped Trump off the mailings.
This morning Paul Ryan held a conference with the House Republicans and essentially ceded the election to Hillary Clinton, saying that he, Ryan, would no longer defend Trump or campaign with him and that he would now be concentrating on not losing the House majority in the upcoming election. Of course, Trump attacked Ryan for that. Mitch McConnell, in the Senate, is content with keeping his head down, for now. The RNC, on the other hand, appears to be all in on the Trump Train.
Stuff You Probably Missed While The Internet Burned Down This Weekend
- The US formally accused Russia of the DNC hacks Friday afternoon.
- Wikileaks released an email dump that included partial transcripts of Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street speeches.
- (I would approach Wikileaks dumps with some caution – they seem to be getting their information from Russia’s hacks, which may be doctored. That having been said, the speech transcripts seem to be legit.)
Daily Cute: Because Nothing Can Salvage This Weekend Except Maybe, Possibly, a Floofy Fox.
In case you’re interested, here’s my debate livetweet on Storify.