After every Manchester United match, one writer at Stretty News, an MUFC fanzine to which I contribute, writes a column detailing three points of interest they took from the match. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s someone else. Sometimes we call it Three Things rather than Three Points. The last happens because we’re almost, but not quite, as focused, prepared, and organized as a herd of cats. You know, like Donald Trump.
In the spirit of just winging it, I decided I’d do the same thing here for the third debate between the two major party candidates involved in the 2016 US Presidential election, even though I wrote nothing on the first two debates, and, in covering the final one, it’s a bit too late to make it a series. Just consider it my version of announcing whether I will accept the election results after they come in.
So, here are the three things I took from the third and final Presidential debate of the 2016 campaign. Hopefully, I’ll get closer to the debate’s core than the two candidates came to each other.
1. If nothing else, this campaign is helping Hillary develop her comedic timing.
Okay, so the zingers about Trump being Putin’s puppet and using illegally dumped Chinese steel to build his hotels were much better than repeatedly breathing “wrong” into the microphone, but Clinton raised her insult level to Defcon 3 with the subtle jab that, while she sat in on the transmission of the successful raid to assassinate Osama bin Laden, the Donald was airing another Celebrity Apprentice episode. Never mind her comment being the perfect riposte for the whole three-am-slept-through-Benghazi thing (it happened at five pm eastern time, people, because time zones, and she was immediately lobbying the Defense Department to act when it did). Even better, it turns out Clinton can out-Trump the Donald when it comes to using his own catch phrase, “you’re fired.”
In response, Trump reiterated his schtick about the current administration giving advance notice to IS leadership on their intent to attack Mosul, recommending a sneak attack to actually eliminate them. I hope I’m not the only one who realizes when Abu the Baker and his crew are isolated from the thousands of innocent human shields they’ve been hiding behind, which Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin have been ignoring in their efforts to bomb out IS, the sneak attack will come, as it did for bin Laden.
Of course, Trump is known for not paying his contractors, or his attorneys when they fail to bankrupt the more feisty peasants. Why should he care about collateral damage in far off places like Mosul or Aleppo? Unless it’s to hold off long enough to deport unwanted Syrian refugees back to those shelled-out husks of cities before launching a US offensive.
2. #TrumpBookReport made America laugh again.
During the debate, St Louis Alderman Antonio French tweeted Trump’s responses to foreign policy questions were like a teenager who hadn’t read the material before having to deliver a book report. It set off a firestorm of creative examples for book reports on famous literature (and films) which a schoolboy Trump may have given. It was the best waste of time I’ve had in weeks.
Being a ‘yuge’ Tolkien fan, this was my personal favorite. And there was this. But it is a US election. No surprise then American literary classics were well represented. Steinbeck. Melville. Hem–ing–way.
3. Credit where due, Chris Wallace.
From one side or the other, if not both, the moderators in the three debates, as well as NBC’s pre-debate-season exhibition Town Hall meeting, have taken a lot of stick from critics. The primary complaint was the lack of fact-checking when either candidate slightly exaggerated or told outright whoppers. Fox’s Chris Wallace, the third and last moderator, not only drew the cool debate destination in Vegas, but raised some ire from Democrats for suggesting it wasn’t the moderator’s job to steer candidates back on course when they took abrupt detours into fantasy land.
Apparently every journalist not named Matt Lauer has his limits, however. When Trump alleged the entirety of proceeds from his Trump Foundation went to charity, Wallace intervened. He asked Trump whether any money went towards settling lawsuits or to paying municipal fines, leading Trump to suggest that when Palm Beach County donates those funds to a charity, it’s the equivalent of him being generous.
Wallace also offered Trump a sarcastic “Thank you, sir,” after Trump had interjected a second time to approve critical statistics during questions being posed to Clinton. When Trump tried to talk over him to prolong the am-not, am-too exchange over who was a puppet he said, “Mr. Trump, I’m not a potted plant here. I would like to ask some questions.”
He was firm with both candidates, in attempting to curtail Trump’s many interruptions, Clinton’s few, and the audience’s reaction to remarks by one or the other. The last was most notable after the laughter generated when Trump claimed no one respected women more than himself. So, maybe there’s a bit of fair and balanced in Fox News, after all. Not that I’m expecting some sort of outbreak, or anything.