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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Trump is the victor of second debate

The second debate sure lived up to the band U2’s description of a Sunday.

For the first time in the modern era, the two candidates did not shake hands at the outset of the debate. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the event.

Last week, I wrote a column detailing what I thought each candidate should do in the next debate. Hillary Clinton did not take my advice, for some reason, and entirely backtracked from what worked in the first debate.

Trump kind of listened to me. He was in full crisis mode and needed to stop the bleeding from Republicans. After the release of Trump’s 2005 comments on women, his only job was to somehow manage the damage.

Clinton’s missed shots

Trump did a pretty effective job. Seeing as he had such low expectations coming into the debate, all he had to really do was seem remarkably all right.

It also helped his case that Clinton decided to pull a Mitt Romney from 2012: She just disappeared from the debate. She looked extremely uncomfortable and slightly glazed over the whole debate, forgetting to do what worked the first time around.

She needed to hit the jugular and end it. The election could have been won Sunday night, but Clinton seemingly lost on that opportunity, and now she has to deal with Trump’s antics for another day.

Most people who talk about the debate will bring up the policy of the two and how they portrayed their respective plans.

None of that really matters to most people. The people actively involved in politics care, but Joe Smith from down the street won’t. What matters is the optics of each candidate and what quips they got in at each other.

This whole election is not dependent on who is the best person to run the country, but who is the least terrible.

Yes, they both said really dumb things about policy. Trump said Syria is Russia which is unfathomably ridiculous, and Clinton even said Russia is working to support Trump through hacking (and implicating WikiLeaks).

The first 30 minutes were like the first debate, meaning both candidates were like school children yelling at each other instead of talking about issues that matter.

Trumped all night

There were a few reasons Trump beat Clinton.

Clinton just wasn’t there last night — she was off, as they say. This was partly due to Trump throwing everything he could to shift the attention of him and on her.

The look of a candidate legitimately matters to voters, as seen in the first televised debate between Nixon and Kennedy.

The email questions were the pivotal point, a line of questioning she’s probably extremely tired of hearing. After a continuous slew of personal attacks, I would check out as well. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

Secondly, Trump continuously struck the right tone through casting Clinton as a relic and hitting on everything that people hate about her. Again, this election is about whom you hate less.

Trump went for it with emails and Benghazi.

The line of the night, and possibly the election’s as well, due to how unexpected it was, was when Trump responded to Clinton by saying, “Because you’d be in jail.”

Trump actively pointed out Clinton’s hawkishness, something she had quite a hard time hiding throughout the debate. It made her look like the Clinton from 2008.

The biggest reason Clinton lost is because she didn’t attack Trump when she had a chance for some ungodly reason.

During the first debate, she figured out the formula to make Trump look worse than her. She attacked his business, his character and let him go off and destroy himself.

It baffles my mind that Clinton didn’t bring up the lewd tape in every question. She shouldn’t have ever let the voters forget that. When he said she’d be in jail, she needed to bring it back to sexual assault; it’s that easy.

The people still lose

Of course, this doesn’t mean Trump wasn’t terrible. He was just less terrible. Trump was wandering the stage, creepily standing behind Clinton and his usual incoherent ramblings didn’t make him look pleasant.

He’s always going to look bad — that’s just who Trump is.

All things considered, Trump’s goal is to make Clinton look worse, He did an alright job. I’m still not sure how he somehow translated a question about the tapes into an answer about ISIS.

Winner: Trump, barely (but mostly Ken Bone)

Loser: The country. Obviously.

Senior staff columnist Jorden Smith is a political science junior and president of the College Republicans. He can be reached at [email protected].

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