Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shakes hands with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton following the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, Monday, September 26, 2016.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shakes hands with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton following the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, Monday, September 26, 2016.

Clinton Prepared; Trump Lacked Stamina in First Presidential Debate

Steve Russell

The coming election will be a gut check for those who don’t think Indians should vote in colonial elections. The usual case is that Indian interests can only be read between the lines. Since the shooting part of the Indian Wars ended, national candidates don’t have much to say about us.

This election is different in that Donald Trump is a professed Indian fighter. In our time, Indian fighting means reducing Indian nations to the legal status of voluntary associations and repealing any laws that help Indians as unfair to non-Indians. Modern Indian fighters would reinterpret the Indian Citizenship Act to mean the end of our separate political existence.

Hillary Clinton verbalizes support for Indian sovereignty and Bill Clinton did not try to hurt us when he had the chance. That’s about as clear as choices get for Indians, but the polls say the race is tied. That makes the debates critical and this first one was expected to draw more viewers than Monday Night Football.

Both sides had been working the refs, and that work results in the first debate being advantage Donald J. Trump. Hillary Clinton had worked the refs by making them confront the problem that Trump lies so fluently. Is it professional to confront the lies or is it professional malpractice not to?

It is easier to admit a duty to bring out the truth than it is to imagine how to move a discussion along if Trump lies as much as he did in the Republican primary debates and the moderators try to chase down every one.

While Clinton failed to achieve a public opinion consensus on how the moderators should handle Trump with his pants on fire, Trump did an excellent job of manipulating expectations.

This will be Clinton’s 39th debate, but only Trump’s 12th. She is a graduate of Yale Law School; he of the Wharton School of Business. Trump’s reality TV experience got lost in the scrum.

Trump has sold the idea that the playing field is tilted against him, starting with his claim that moderator Lester Holt is a Democrat. (Holt is a registered Republican.)

To prevail, Clinton had to appear presidential. Knowledgeable is not good enough because everyone knows she has forgotten more public policy than Trump ever knew.

To prevail, Trump had to appear sane.

That may seem to be a significant tilt in the scoring, but she spent more time Monday night appearing presidential than he spent appearing sane. Clinton’s problem is the large number of people expected to tune in for this debate who would be attending to the election for the first time. The consensus number was 100 million.

She carries the baggage of fake scandals from Whitewater to Benghazi. The sheer amount of smoke leaves people thinking there was fire—which there was, but nothing in the same league with Trump’s business dealings or his distant relationship with the truth. The most astounding indictment of voter attention is that the public perceives Trump to be more honest than Clinton.

The debate started with a question about the welfare of the “half of Americans living paycheck to paycheck.” I could not help flashing back to much of my life doing exactly that.

Clinton replied with the usual Democratic Party wish list: infrastructure repair, advanced technology jobs, a raised minimum wage, equal pay for women, paid family leave.

Without prompting, she admitted that taxes would have to go up to pay for that wish list.

Trump took the question directly to trade, claiming the problem that jobs are “fleeing the country” or, he went on, “being stolen.”

He offered the standard Republican bromide that if taxes on rich people are cut they will go on a hiring spree.

Clinton had an obviously prepared label: “Trumped-up trickle down.”

Trump recycled his claim that he turned “a small loan” from his father into a thriving business worth “billions.” Depending on your point of view, he started with a $1 million loan or a $14 million inheritance. Either way, most voters would agree he was born on third base. They may be divided over whether he later hit a triple.

Clinton pointed out correctly that the economic meltdown in 2008 came out of a low taxes/low regulation regime. Those are the exact taxation and regulatory policies Trump advocates.


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