Clinton wins contest on temperament
If voters consider temperament when they choose the next president of the United States, then Hillary Clinton won the election Tuesday night.
If voters consider temperament when they choose the next president, Hillary Clinton has already won.
Donald Trump scored points early on with foreign trade and some other issues that speak to rust-belt America. But for the most part, he met Clinton’s clarity on issues with the bluster of a middle-school bully. His face was a symphony of contortion while Clinton spoke, and he interrupted her with abandon, tossing away the book of traditional debate etiquette as if it were a beauty queen who’d gained a few pounds.
Unfortunately, Trump’s bluster Tuesday once again overshadowed Hillary Clinton’s fundamental competence and grasp of issues foreign and domestic. He argued for his tax plan, although Clinton pretty much trashed it, and for repatriation of overseas taxes, although Clinton also supports this. Trump added no persuasive detail to his idea of making America great again – unless we count his new enthusiasm for stop-andfrisk and racial profiling.
The main takeaway from this debate was not policy substance on either side. It was personal suitability for the job of president.
Clinton’s presentation was rehearsed, sometimes a tad too scripted, as a result of having carefully prepared for the debate – “Just like I’ve prepared to be president,” as she told Trump. We’d like to have seen a few more flashes of humor. But her ability to maintain a professional demeanor as Trump lost it is precisely a quality Americans need in a president who will act on the world stage.
In living memory, this has never been an issue because both parties’ nominees have been reasonably civil human beings. Not so with the Republicans this time.
Incredibly, in his day-after reflections, Trump seemed proudest of the behavior that appalled us. Rather than capitalizing on the points he made about trade deals, he doubled down on trashing one of his former beauty pageant winners, despite a Fox moderator’s best efforts to get him to move on.
And he threatened to be tougher on Clinton personally next time, perhaps attacking Bill Clinton’s infidelities. Do we really need to hear this from a man on his third marriage whose own affairs have enlivened tabloids and who has bragged publicly of his sexual prowess?
For Americans still undecided about the candidates’ political philosophies and priorities, the next two debates may help inform their votes. But for people who care about temperament? Game over. No matter what Trump does or says from here, Americans won’t forget what they saw Tuesday night.
Whether it’s what they want in a president remains to be seen.
For Americans still undecided about the candidates’ political philosophies and priorities, the next two debates may help inform their votes. But for people who care about temperament? Game over.
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.