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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Debate Recap: The moderator wins overall

You did it, U.S.A., you got through the debates.

We had seen Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump focusing on each other’s flaws rather than actual policies for three tedious times. Last night’s debate also demonstrated to us, as a nation, why nominating two terrible candidates for the nation’s highest office position may not have been the best move.

With less than 20 days until the “most important election of our lifetime” (somewhat sarcastic) and a Clinton victory becoming more apparent, this debate should have been dubbed as “Trump’s Last Stand.”

Now, like my last debate review, there won’t be an emphasis on policy because no one (except for a few of the citizenry) actually cares about policy specifics in a debate. It’s about optics and the few soundbites each candidate gives.

It doesn’t matter how much the candidate lies, few people actually care to fact-check. Clinton lied a lot last night — from the “open borders” comment to saying special forces weren’t troops to the Clinton Foundation doing everything right in Haiti. This is taking into account that Trump lied as well.

I’d be remissed if I didn’t point out that news anchor Chris Wallace was probably the best debate moderator we’ve had in the past two election cycles. He called out both candidates and did as effective of a job as you can when two children are running for president.

Oddly enough, this debate was extremely reminiscent of the first one when looking through the “Trump lens.” The first 30 minutes were not bad — if anything, they were boring — and both candidates were calm and looked presidential.

Also, once the first 30 minutes were up, Trump went into full-on attack mode because he’s Trump.

Trump lost this debate, simply put, because he said the dumbest things out of the two candidates. Every day until the election, all news outlets will play Trump’s comments about not accepting the results of the election. This might be the dumbest thing a candidate has said in the past century.

Trump also called Clinton a “nasty woman.” This tweet summed up, pretty effectively, why that was a terrible comment. It was red meat to the base, pure and simple.

Trump didn’t know how to attack at all. The point of a debate is to make your opponent defend themselves and make them look stupid. Every time he attacked Clinton on policy, he never explained why she’s wrong or why he’s right.

Trump somehow ended up having to defend himself in the process.

This is not to say Clinton didn’t have a bad night. She seemed stunned when the moderator asked her legitimate questions. She flubbed the partial-birth abortion question; the answer had nothing to do with policy.

Trump legitimately just sounded like a better human being (of course, he missed his chance to explain why it’s wrong), something that was almost impossible to do.

Clinton also looked terrible trying to defend herself. When Trump attacked her on the WikiLeaks emails and asked about the Clinton Foundation’s possible corruption, she rarely denied anything and gave her trademark smile.

That showed she clearly didn’t have an answer. That won’t bode well with John and Jane Voter.

Overall, though, Clinton just looked better because she knew how to attack and how to get a rise out of Trump. She won this round and probably the election.

Winner: Chris Wallace (also, Hillary Clinton, kind of)

Loser: Obviously, the country

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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