So I watched and I've read lots of articles today and watched lots of pundits last night and this morning and basically everyone agrees. The debates started fairly evenly. Trump was at his best on trade and his NAFTA attacks were what worked best against Hillary. But it all went downhill for him, mostly because she was so well prepared and he was so easy to bait. And she did, from early on saying he only managed to succeed in business because of an initial $14 million loan from his dad. She continued to be calm, offer policy details for her own plans, not give in to his attacks and to respond with little jibes to get his unhinged. The last half hour he was at his worst, making little sense, interrupting, repeating himself, and looking unpresidential next to her. It culminated in his attacking her temperament while demonstrating that he didn't have it.
She was good, and had to dance a fine line as the first woman candidate. The facial expressions said a lot during the entire debate. He was was looking annoyed in a way that far exceeded Al Gore's sighs. She to me looked like every woman that had to deal with sexism in the workplace. She kept her demeanor while allowing just a little bit of "oh not this again" into her face. Vox had a number of good articles on the debate, these two in particular on this point:
- Clinton's debate performance spoke to every woman who has had to humor an incompetent man
- How Hillary Clinton lured Donald Trump’s sexism out into the open
That said, was her performance good enough? I don't really think so. She got a few good zingers in and will get some commercials out of them, but nothing that's going to be remembered in a few days. She was never going to convert the Trump faithful, that wasn't the goal. Her own faithful will remain so. For those in-between, sure she looked presidential and he less so, hopefully it's obvious to everyone but if you're still undecided I think last night would just nudge you a little. I think she definitely looked more appealing than him to any woman or African American based on the relevant issues, but that's been the case the whole time. For those that hate Trump and also find her dishonest, I don't think she managed to convince them to trust her. So she won the round, but there was no knock-out and no decision yet. Two more to go.
I did think near the end, after he said something (I'm not sure what), that she should have turned to him and just said "You're deranged."
Update: Ezra Klein makes a particularly good point, The press thought Trump’s first 30 minutes were his best. They were his worst.