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.

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - — San Jose Mer­cury News, Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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