I did actually watch the final presidential debate as it went out live in the middle of last night. I woke for a glass of water and thought: ‘why not?’. So on went the iPhone.
It did not make for a happy night, I have to admit. I have been feeling just like Tricia, one of TCW’s regular readers and commentators, who wrote just yesterday:
“I am so hoping Trump wins – it will be wonderful watching the Beeb choking on the words as they have to inform us of the news…Trump for President! In fact, anyone but Shrillary!”
Yes, I too have been rooting for Donald. Every time he refused to be browbeaten by the sanctimonious, politically correct, Paul Ryan style “I revere women” elite, I cheered. Stand up to them, face them down, no one else has the sheer insensitivity it now takes to hold your own against orthodoxy. We are relying on you to tear up their rule book.
Donald became my hero not so much for being the citizens’ candidate, as for taking on the smug, superior elite who decide what is allowed and what is acceptable and what is not – their new moral order and its hypocrisies.
But last night, she cowed him. The harsh-voiced Hillary dominated and, frankly, he let her. So too did the host, Chris Wallace of Fox News. I did not time their relative contributions but my impression was that she was allowed to dominate the speaking time by 3 to 2. He let her.
If it was his staff that was responsible for persuading him to cut back on his attack dog “I am not cowed by your feminist claptrap” mode, well they got it wrong.
Once you believe you have to play by their rules to gain political acceptance or respectability, you are crippled. That is why liberal media has done nothing but play the card that Mr Trump is beyond the pale to bring him into line. It must have finally got to his staff.
People hate being disapproved of or deemed unacceptable. It is a very effective way of shutting up non-conformers. I thought Trump would withstand it. Each time he had he confounded the elite and pleased the public after all – but no, not this time.
I have to agree with the New York Times – Hillary emasculated him:
‘The relatively subdued and largely defanged Republican nominee who showed up onstage at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was a different figure from the candidate America has watched for the past 16 months.
Mr. Trump was, for much of the night, oddly calm and composed. He minimised his name-calling. His interruptions were relatively rare for him.
In a debate that his allies had predicted would represent 90 minutes of scorched-earth verbal warfare, Mr Trump seemed deserted by his most bellicose instincts.
He repeatedly gave up chances to respond to pointed taunts from Mrs Clinton, who dominated the confrontation from its opening moments, needling and baiting him over and over.’
It was not as though he landed any other blows either.
He did not paint the socialist dystopian nightmare Hillary’s hugely state interventionist and expensive programme would bring to the USA – both denying opportunity and taking away the freedoms Americans hold dear.
He did not compare “Hillary land” with the worst of Europe’s failed social policies or accuse her betraying of the very principles of social and economic freedom that made America.
He did not say why her utopia would be impossible to deliver without taxing the masses as well as the wealthy – “In your dreams, Hillary, will you not raise taxes?”
He did a little better on the shambolic mess of Obama’s foreign policy, but was not coherent. Why he omitted to mention the death in Benghazi of the US ambassador on her watch, I do not know.
Nor did he have apart from NAFTA any critique of Obama’s economic policy or challenge her claims of Obama’s brilliant management post the 2008 financial crisis – which might have worked for the elite but not for the ordinary American.
He was, as the New York Times said, ‘inexplicably polite’ when he did not need to be – most of all when he let Mrs Clinton avoid the question about allegations of sexual misconduct against her husband and the role she might have played in trying to discredit the women who came forward to accuse her husband.
The truth is that she turned the tables on him and he went limp.
It was frankly bizarre, not least that for the first time he earned some accolades for this debate from several of the Daily Telegraph’s reporting team for his more subdued performance.
I can only think his staffers, like these reporters and many of Trump’s Republican critics, finally fell for the idea that he needed to ‘behave’ to win political respectability.
He didn’t. It was a terrible mistake. If he loses the election we will never know if it was because, far from gaining such acceptance at the 11th hour, he dropped his winning card and lost his mojo at the same time.
(Image: Bill B)