Hillary Clinton undeniably savaged Donald Trump in last night’s debate, flattening him like a baby carrot under the wheels of a cement mixer.
Seeing the two of them vie for space on a single stage really threw the full extent of Trump’s lunacy into sharp relief; toward the end he seemed to disintegrate entirely, spouting off bizarre non sequiturs about oil and Rosie O’Donnell like a tiny-handed robot that got dropped in a bath. There was a lot to take note of — and more will surely be unearthed and beaten into dust in the coming days and weeks — but here are just a handful of the night’s takeaways.
Interrupting is not a novel debate tactic, but the extent to which Trump attempted to bluster over Hillary — and her staunch refusal to let him — was stunning. In total, Trump reportedly interrupted Hillary 51 times; she interrupted him 17 times.
(One criticism of her performance has been that she let him carry on too long, an amused smirk painted to her face as he babbled. This was the correct approach: letting him shoot himself in the foot while avoiding accusations from a fleet of La-Z-Boy-bound manbabies that she’s too hard-charging for a woman.)
Most of Trump’s interjections were in attempt to deny some ugly thing he’d said or, better yet, tweeted: “Donald thinks climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese,” Clinton said. “I did not. I did not say that,” Trump insisted, sounding panicked. (He absolutely did.) “Donald supported the invasion of Iraq,” Hillary said. “Wrong,” he said. Right!
FiveThirtyEight has an even more granular breakdown, reporting that Trump wrested the floor from Clinton three times (to Clinton’s zero) but made 24 “fleeting interjections” (to her five). American Bridge puts Trump’s number of interruptions at 73. Whether he was deploying that tactic specifically because Clinton is a woman is beside the point: As many on Twitter have pointed out: “There is no working woman in America who does not recognize the pattern of interruption that Trump is using against Clinton.”
I literally think Trump has never had to listen to a woman for this long in his life.
— Paul Musgrave (@profmusgrave) September 27, 2016
It’s the Media’s Fault, Except When They Are Giving Me Billions in Free Advertising
Trump’s relationship with the press is laughably conflicted. He’s made no secret of his contempt for the “mainstream media,” though he still cites it regularly when trying to sound authoritative. Here’s a tidy example from last night:
“And, number two, I said, and very strongly, NATO could be obsolete, because — and I was very strong on this, and it was actually covered very accurately in the New York Times, which is unusual for the New York Times, to be honest — but I said, they do not focus on terror. And I was very strong.”
Trump has shown nothing but unbridled loathing for the Times in the past, but that didn’t stop him from name-checking it as a trusted reference. In the same breath:
“And about four months ago, I read on the front page of the Wall Street Journal that NATO is opening up a major terror division. And I think that’s great.”
While trying to backpedal his support of the Iraq war, he also mentioned that “That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her.”
Less than a minute later, Trump points out that “they did an article in a major magazine, shortly after the war started. I think in ’04. But they did an article which had me totally against the war in Iraq.”
Why does Trump get to blame his poor image on the media while simultaneously relying on it for his credibility?
And if the media isn’t biased, its forcing him to use second-rate audio equipment. This morning Trump went on Fox to explain what was really behind his performance:
“I had a problem with a microphone that didn’t work,” he told the Fox friends. “My microphone was terrible. I wonder, was it set up that way on purpose? My microphone, in the room they couldn’t hear me, you know, it was going on and off. Which isn’t exactly great. I wonder if it was set up that way, but it was terrible.”
The Absurd Criticisms of Hillary Clinton
Perhaps the most ridiculous critique of Clinton’s performance came from NBC’s Chuck Todd, who accused her of being “over-prepared,” and bemoaned that, god forbid, she “must have had fifteen policy proposals within two minutes.”
To be clear, last night’s debate portended dire consequences for the country’s future, and it doesn’t matter if some of her points felt slightly shoehorned. To quibble about her preparedness is to hold Clinton to a different standard on an entirely different planet than the one Trump is on. Which, of course, she is.
— Fix everything
— At least 5 A+ zingers
— Don’t come off too smart
— Speak English
— Wear pants
— Have fun
— Andy Barr (@bustipsover) September 26, 2016
This was a nice moment that occurred around an hour in.
TRUMP: “I’ve been all over the place. You decided to stay home, and that’s okay….”
CLINTON: “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”
She was overprepared for being underprepared and she smiled too much while not smiling enough
— Glenn Fleishman (@GlennF) September 27, 2016