By Jordan Laird
Donald Trump was uncharacteristically reserved at the beginning of the debate, but the civility did not last long. He soon began blaming Hillary Clinton for anything that has happened in her entire career as a politician, as if she has always had sole control over the decisions of this country. This strategy is consistent with his framing of Clinton as a political insider that represents everything wrong with American politics.
Very early on last night, Clinton said, “I have a feeling that by the end of this evening I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened.” To which Trump replied, “Why not?” But Clinton kept her composure and replied, “Why not? Yeah, why not?”
Her calm but commanding demeanor would remain throughout the night. It became clear very early on in the debate that her attention to details, facts and preparation payed off. Meanwhile, Trump, who had decided to stick to his usual off-the-cuff antics, seemed to just be repeating everything he’s already said during his campaign, while becoming more and more flustered. Granted, there wasn’t a huge debacle on Trump’s end like I thought there might have been last night.
But how could Trump possibly prepare to defend his outlandish past claims and actions? During the debate, he didn’t take ownership of, nor apologize for calling global warming a hoax, nor claiming Obama was not born here, even after his birth certificate was released. Instead, he denied facts conveniently and sometimes awkwardly pivoted to other topics.
Clinton, on the other hand, was prepared to take responsibility for the largest scandal that has haunted her campaign: her emails. Clinton said, “I’m not going to make any excuses. It was a mistake and I take responsibility for that.” People make mistakes and more than that, politicians who have worked for decades in the nitty-gritty world of policymaking have to inevitably make mistakes along the way. I respect a politician who can admit her mistakes, promise to do better in the future and move forward.
Donald Trump has not taken ownership of any of his mistakes during his entire campaign. He simply plows ahead with little attention to facts. Clinton even said at one point, “Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts.”
Even under pressure to call out Trump on his lies, moderator Lester Holt only attempted to fact-check Trump once throughout the night on the issue of stop-and-frisk. Many of the things Trump said were half-truths or simply not true at all. For example, Trump said Clinton had been “fighting ISIS [her] entire adult life.” In reality, the Islamic State grew out of other terror groups and only branded itself as ISIS in 2014, when Clinton was out of office. Trump dug into Clinton hard on Iraq and reiterated that he opposed the war in Iraq before it began. However, during the buildup to the war, he had voiced his support in an interview with Howard Stern.
Trump also complained that the United States paid $1.7 billion to Iran as part of the nuclear deal. The U.S. payed Iran money, but it was Iran’s money for military goods never delivered to Iran after the Iranian Revolution.
Trump may claim that Clinton represents crooked American politics, but he is actually the one who speaks in half-truths and lies. I don’t know what would be worse: if he’s distorting the facts or simply not knowledgeable enough on these important issues in order to speak in an informed manner. Either way, he can’t be trusted as commander in chief. Clinton may have skeletons in her closet, but no more than Trump and at least she owns up to her mistakes.
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