"Words Matter" even when "Chicago is a War Zone": Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump do battle in the first Presidential Debate of 2016

"Words Matter" even when "Chicago is a War Zone": Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump do battle in the first Presidential Debate of 2016

(I watched the debate on NBC, as a peremptory note)

I don't often like to watch political debates, as they usually make me feel like I'm going to pass some tainted Oysters Rockefeller.

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Yet, and I think millions will agree with me, this debate was the exception. We have been waiting to see these two meet and duke it out in front of millions, so we can give round one to the victor.

To be honest, no one could predict what was going to happen in this 90 minute battle royale. But, what took place was often too surreal to comprehend. I won't proselytize or sermonize, I will simply give you my honest assessment of the greatest evidence one can give: the words of the individual. (Disclaimer: though I did take notes copiously throughout the debate, some quotes are not given verbatim, but the overall intent of the statement is always inviolate.)

The opening five seconds epitomized the feeling many have over the two candidates: Lester Holt stumbled over Trump's last name and Clinton shouted, "How are ya, Donald?!"

Before I get into the meat, I just want to canonize Lester Holt for his composure and stamina during this debate. There were several times where he was literally told that the facts he had in front of him were wrong and verbally silenced. No moderator should have to face what he did, because a moderator is simply there to keep the debate flowing. Holt was abused, harangued, and bitterly dismissed in a way that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

The opening statements were short and rather uneventful, aside from Clinton stating that she unequivocally can "shoulder the immense responsibility of The Presidency."

The debate was organized into three succinct headings: Achieving Prosperity, America's Direction, and Securing America.

Achieving Prosperity contained the candidates thoughts on our economic situation. When Clinton criticized Trump's privilege, he hauled out the "small loan" bit again, candidly omitting the "million dollar" addendum that made him the stuff of Internet Legend.

If there was any moment where Trump had an inkling of knowledge in the debate, it is was during the first few minutes of this subject. Yet, any credibility he had was negated by the fact that he asserted that if he could run a "successful" company, he can lead the US to economic prosperity. Trump got lost in a maze of "air conditioners, cars, and cookies" when trying to underline the loss of American jobs to China (an area that Trump reamed during this debate for destroying our economy) and Mexico (I call this section "Ford's Lament.)

Clinton claimed that Trump "goaded the housing crisis" in his favor, to which he responded, "that's business!" Clinton laid out the bare facts: her plan would create jobs, and Trump's would decimate them. He offered no cogent rebuttal to her accusation, other than the fact that Clinton "has no plan" and that it's "Obama's fault." In talking about other countries prospering, Trump said we needed to look to "Dubai...and China" because they have "incredible airports." He should be reminded that airports are just the places you land in, not the places you want to stay.

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When Trump tried to lob the "little guys" against Clinton, she threw it back in his fact with one of the most thrilling rebuttals I've witnessed in an argument. She spoke of the carpenters, designers, and workmen on Trump's many projects who weren't paid what they were promised for their work. To that, Trump stated that "maybe they just didn't do a good enough job?" It seems that Mr. Business doesn't understand the importance of a binding contract. So much for well-paying, steady jobs?

Trump closed this section of the debate by telling us that he "takes advantage of the laws of this nation."

America's Direction was next, focusing on the growing violence that plagues our country. This, of course, was turned into a debate about race.

Clinton talked about reforming and retraining the current police force to teach tolerance and foster good relations between police and the people they are there to protect. Trump, flipping through his lexicon on Television show titles, said that the main focus of the issue was...

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Apparently the solution to maintaining Trump's...

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...is to say that immigrants "shoot people" and are "bad people." Both Trump and Clinton spoke about the controversial "Stop and Frisk" initiative being ruled unconstitutional because it favored racial profiling. Trump insisted that Lester Holt was "wrong" when he said that it favored racial profiling, saying that his friend Rudy Giuliani ("who is here!") told him that "Stop and Frisk" actually worked.

He then opined that Chicago is the major example of the degradation of society, likening it to a war zone in a third world country. He placed the blame at Barack Obama's feet, saying that over 4,000 people have been killed in Chicago since Obama took office. As a resident of Chicago, may I kindly say to Donald Trump: "Stick it."

Clinton responded by saying that "we can't just say..."

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...and that we need to retrain police officers on how to regain their objectivity and composure.

The Birther Movement was brought back into the light of day with Clinton stating that she was aghast that Trump has continued, until recently, pushing this issue since 2012. His exact words were: "I got Obama to give us the birth certificate...I did a good job."

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Clinton reminded the world that one of Trump's first business endeavors was renting out apartments and that those applications submitted by African Americans were marked "C" for "Colored." Trump closed this section of the debate by giving us the most golden piece of advice I've every heard a politician utter: "Palm Beach, Florida is a tough community."

Securing America brought Russia, ISIS, and international affairs into the ring. Clinton suggested that, instead of waging war against cyber-attackers, that we strengthen our defense against them. Trump took this moment to continue filling out his "hatemonger" bingo card by suggesting that people who work with computers and programming weigh 400 pounds and might not necessarily be a Chinese man.

Of course Trump pulled out the ISIS card, but Hillary blocked it...

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...by saying that ISIS can be battled by strengthening our stance against cyber-warfare. Trump then went into a long, rambling diatribe about how he didn't support the Iraq War (which has proven to be true again and again) and that we should all give ol' Sean Hannity a call and ask him about the subject.

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Trump went out with a bang, saying that Clinton does not have a "presidential temperament." When he was asked to explain that, Trump criticized her preparation for the debate, saying he was out with the voters and she was in bed pouring over the facts. "The only secret is he has no plan" on dealing with ISIS, Clinton responded when Trump brought his calling card out again.

I am starting to lose steam here, as the aneurisym in my brain is threatening to take over my cerebral cortex and I am spinning slower and slower into madness, yet I shall leave you with the main thoughts of each opponent:

Trump: "Clinton's ads were NOT NICE... I'll make America GREAT again."

Clinton: "I support our democracy."

Words, my friends, are the most powerful tool, if we know how to yield them.

And remember, stay outta' Palm Beach.


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  • But as Chef Barfaroni just posted on Berkowitz, Trump won if you turned the sound off. It is questionable whether he did, even if that's how Chef viewed it, but that just supports how Trump supporters are approaching the campaign.

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