No sooner did I turn the TV off after the third debate and my phone lit up with this Boston Globe breathless alert: “Donald Trump refuses to say if he’ll accept election results!” I wouldn’t have been surprised if the next alert was: “And he called Hillary ‘such a nasty woman!’”
Those are the two most talked about issues by the media post debate. Not the fact that this is all about the Supreme Court, which Donald Trump clearly pointed out and that if Hillary wins we can kiss the Second Amendment goodbye.
What was disappointing about this one was how much more Donald Trump could have done. He could have hammered away at Hillary much more forcefully, in so many areas. It felt like a lost opportunity. He won the debate. But he could have done more. Here’s what he did do:
On foreign policy: Trump’s strongest point was that we must have other countries get some skin in the game for us to protect them. It’s expensive, he pointed out. And he rattled off the countries where Hillary, as Secretary of State, was an abject failure. Her poor instincts, he noted, created the messes we see in: Saudi Arabia (let them use some of that oil money to defend themselves), Libya (enabling ISIS), Iraq (telling the world our Mosul strategy before we go in), Iran (sending billions and billions), and Syria (he should have called her out on her call for a no fly zone that would essentially mean war with Russia). She rattled off talking points like a wind up toy: eyes wide open, mouth moving, not a thought in her head. Trump simply pointed out, if they want our help they need to pay-up.
On the economy. It’s simple, lower-taxes are a stimulus to the economy, end of story. Trump wants to lower them. Hillary wants to offer free education from pre-school through college. Who is going to pay-up for that?
Supreme Court: Hillary had a lame response about letting the people decide how to be ruled. Trump said he would elect judges that follow the words of the written document. If Hillary wins, there goes the Second Amendment.
There is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump could have come out stronger, he was flat out of the gates, but eventually warmed up and hit his stride. But he could have done a much better job hitting away at Hillary’s failures. He did enough to show Americans the difference. Unfortunately the media will tell a different story.
At The American Conservative, Daniel Larison calls this an “escape” for Hillary. She hasn’t had to face scrutiny of her record, or lack thereof.
The result of all this was that Clinton was able to escape scrutiny of most of her record. She was never asked to defend her support for the Libyan war, nor did she really have to answer for anything else that she did as Secretary of State. Once again, her opponent didn’t know enough to know how to use her record against her. Despite her poor record on foreign policy, Clinton was able to get off almost completely scot-free.
It’s possible that she escaped because so little of the debate focused on foreign policy, where Clinton trumpets herself as very accomplished. In another article on the debate, Larison explains:
Perhaps more than in any election cycle since 2000, foreign policy has received remarkably little attention in the general election (and it didn’t receive much more during the primaries), and many pressing issues have been ignored entirely throughout the campaign. The war in Afghanistan and the war on Yemen are among the most obvious and damning omissions in my view, but one could find quite a few other other important things that the candidates have never been asked about. We have almost no idea how either candidate would approach approximately nine-tenths of the rest of the world, and the election is in less than three weeks. That is pathetic even by our usual poor political standards.
Larison’s colleague at TAC, Rod Dreher circled back to the idea that Trump may not accept the results of the election. Dreher wrote that Trump disqualifies himself for such antics.
The Republican Party’s nominee for the US presidency said on national television, three weeks before the election, that he might not accept its legitimacy.
On no grounds whatsoever.
Every horrible thing Hillary said tonight, every horrible thing she stands for, every horrible thing her presidency is going to mean for the country and the causes most important to me — all of it is obviated by this statement. A man so vain and so unspeakably reckless cannot be trusted in the White House.
This country is in a hell of a place.