Mark Ralston/Pool via AP
The third and final presidential debate between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was more of the same routine.

Trump’s Reach Exceeds His Grope in Final Debate

Steve Russell
10/20/16

As I waited for the last presidential debate of the 2016 silly season, my mind wandered to one of my worst political predictions. Writing the introduction to the first debate of the Republican Primary on August 7, 2015, I opined:

The Republican Party is in much better shape than in 2012. The good news is the candidates are smarter and more serious. Nobody will call this crowd “the clown car.” The bad news is there are too many candidates and the voters don’t know most of them.

RELATED: Trump Throws Down on Megyn Kelly: Rating the Republican Debate

The polling in advance of that first debate put four candidates in front of the crowded field: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Scott Walker. The smart money said Carson and Trump were riding name identification and that the candidates to beat were Bush and Walker.

The smart money didn’t do any better than I did.

Speaking of smart money reminds me of a U.S. Marine smart-ass. Pete Kiernan is a veteran of Marine Special Operations Command and of the war in Afghanistan. He is currently studying political science at Columbia University. Kiernan organized pledges to veterans’ charities totaling $6 million if Donald Trump releases his tax returns before the last debate. Some people, at least some veterans, will recall that Trump bailed out of one of the primary debates and claimed he would instead raise money for veterans’ charities, and would personally give a million dollars.

Trump finally gave the money only after The Washington Post busted him for not giving the money. In last night’s presidential debate, Trump ignored the chance to support veterans with $6 million of other people’s money just by doing something his running mate, Mike Pence, and his opponents, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, have already done---releasing his tax returns. Since he has already admitted to paying no taxes, it’s hard to imagine what else is in there worth denying $6 million to charity.

Trump—bragging about needing no preparation—lost the first debate badly. He did somewhat better in the second debate, but according to the polling he still lost. Between that debate and this one, he has been complaining publicly that the election is rigged.

He no longer believes in the many polls he used to gloat over when they showed him ahead. The pollsters are part of the conspiracy to rig the election, as are the media.

The moderator for the last debate was Chris Wallace of Fox News. Wallace is the first general election debate moderator from Fox. He has the best reputation of all the Fox personalities, and he won high marks for his work in the primaries. Since Trump has reserved his interviews mainly for Fox as his campaign has spiraled downward, a moderator from Fox was most inconvenient for Trump’s conspiracy theory.

Trump has dominated the agenda for this entire silly season, and before the last debate it was same old, same old—all the talking heads were fixated on what Trump was going to do. Why did he invite Barack Obama’s half brother, who claims to be a pal of the late Libyan dictator?

There was much less speculation about Hillary Clinton. What there was asked whether she would plant land mines for Trump to step on like she did in the first debate or concentrate on not losing, as she did in the second? Both tactics worked, so it was hard to get worked up about the speculation.

The second debate started with a refusal to shake hands but ended with a handshake. Last night, any handshake would have been sheer fakery on both sides.

The vitriol from the campaign trail was very much present on the campus of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. I will do my best to point out where the candidates made news.

Without a doubt, the biggest news of the night was Wallace directly and repeatedly pressing Trump on whether he would accept the outcome of the election.

Trump refused.

Pence and even Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, endorsed the honesty of the election process, but it did not move their candidate.

When Trump refused to abide by the results of the election, it was like the entire room sucked in its breath. It was shocking.

The first discussion was about the candidates’ views of the Supreme Court.  Each candidate articulated predictable concerns.

For Clinton: marriage equality, Roe v. Wade, and reversing the Citizens United case. She wanted justices who would “stand up for” her issues and “represent all of us.”

Trump asserted that “the Second Amendment is under trauma” and he wanted justices who are “pro-life,” admitting that meant reversing Roe v. Wade. He also attacked Ruth Bader Ginsberg and said he wanted justices who would interpret the Constitution “the way the Founders wanted it interpreted.”

As a judge, I found the views of both candidates disturbing in their own ways.

As to Clinton, my concern is that a court is not a representative body and it’s not a court’s function to “stand up for” anything but justice and the rule of law.

Trump segued into a gory and misleading description of late-term abortion as if it had something to do with the question; Clinton endorsed Planned Parenthood as if that were the issue.

Pages

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page