The first ever Commander In Chief Forum was held Wednesday aboard the legendary, retired aircraft carrier, Intrepid. Let's just say that the Intrepid has seen better days.
NBC's Matt Lauer, who's interviewed such political heavyweights as Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan, One Direction and Ryan Lochte seemed ill-prepared to moderate what could have been a high point in his career.
That distinction (Lauer's career high point) will have to remain riding Al Roker down an Olympic luge track.
Lauer appeared edgy and unsure of his role in the forum. His treatment of the two candidates was uneven and appeared to be a work in progress, possibly the result of off-camera direction received through his earpiece.
Lauer's instructions to the candidates were notably different. He told Hillary Clinton to limit her answers to discussions of her own policies and not to use the opportunity to bash her opponent.
After wasting 1/3 of Clinton's allotted 30 minutes going through her inbox, Lauer spent the remaining time interrupting Clinton and trying to limit her answers.
Lauer asked Clinton to describe her plan to defeat ISIS "as briefly as possible." He spent 10 minutes on emails, but wanted her to outline her plan to defeat worldwide terror in 10 words or less.
Then again, this is the guy that gets paid to shed light on big issues, like why Zayn Malik left One Direction.
Clearly, Clinton is one of the most knowledgeable politicians when it comes to foreign policy. She doesn't just read about it, she has immersed herself in it. Her insistence, though that she would not be putting "boots on the ground" in Syria or Iraq was off base for three major reasons.
First, we already have boots on the ground in those countries. Second, that answer would have been more appropriate for a civilian audience, not the military audience to which they were playing.
Ironically, members of the military are not as squeamish about the death and destruction of war as their civilian counterparts. They just want the proper support; before, during and after.
Lastly, never say never.
Lauer didn't ask Trump to refrain from bashing Clinton, he only asked him to limit the bashing. A new strategy they apparently decided to implement during the break.
Lauer let Trump get away with the many-times-debunked lie that he (Trump) was against the war in Iraq. Who supported the war in Iraq and who didn't may now be a moot point, but blatant lies must be called out, especially when recorded history shows otherwise.
One of the most curious features of this campaign has been that the guy who is running on the premise that the system is crooked and rigged is the one guy who is never held to any standard of truth.
Trump's adoration of Vladimir Putin is not just weird, it's sinister. Both Trump and his running mate have expressed their admiration of Putin's strength.
World leaders who kill political rivals and offending members of the press have the ability to flex their muscles in ways that less authoritarian leaders can't.
You may not have noticed, but Donald Trump sees the role of president in a very different light than did our Founding Fathers.
Trump said the body language of his CIA briefer told him that the President was disregarding their policy input.
People who work for the CIA-also known as the Clandestine Service-are known as spooks. Secrecy is their stock and trade.
No one delivering the Trump entourage a low level security briefing made any kind of a gesture that they were displeased with the President. We've heard the infamous "a-lot-of-people-are-saying" too many times not to recognize it.
We just need to call him a liar on that and move on.
The highlight of the evening was Trump's plan to defeat ISIS quickly, a plan he's been touting for more than a year. Of this one, Lauer tried to make sense, but it was too late, the virus was out of control.
As best as I can translate the words that tumbled out of Trump's mouth into English, he has a plan, but will ask some generals who haven't been reduced to rubble to come up with their own plans and then see which one he likes the best.
It's kind of like the name the puppy contest on the Today Show, someplace Lauer now wishes he had never left.
Trump managed to make one thing clear Wednesday night. When he does come up with his master plan to defeat ISIS, he's not going to call up Matt Lauer and tell him about it.
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