By Ryan Schelwat
In the first debate, Donald Trump did an excellent job in conveying his political stances and maintained the same passionate demeanor he has exhibited throughout his campaign, without losing his temper.
Trump spoke prolifically on crime and how he would address it, as well as other critical issues for Americans like trade, immigration and jobs. He successfully exposed Secretary Hillary Clinton’s “flip-flop” behavior by highlighting her changing stances on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal and her own inherent bias with her now infamous “super-predator” quote. He also pithily rejected the notion that social and economic problems can be solved by government spending by reminding voters of the $20 trillion debt deficit that we as a country must now face.
Clinton was unable to achieve her primary objectives: to convince people she is trustworthy and to show a more compassionate and “human” side. Trump, on the other hand, for the first half of the debate, managed to exemplify leadership and restraint – skills which many doubted he was capable of after his aggressive performances in the primary debates and on the campaign trail. It was an indisputable win for Trump, thanks in part to reduced expectations and greater stage presence.
That said, Clinton was arguably successful in her rhetorical defense of her actions regarding Iraq, Iran and Libya – a tough thing to defend when you see the results of her stewardship, or lack thereof, in the media every day. In an ostensible move to retain progressive voters, her stated policies were reminiscent of Senator Bernie Sanders’ – which will possibly win over any doubters from his supporters.
As many commentators preached prior to the debate, the role of the moderator was wholly unsuccessful in maintaining order or responses to his questions. In addition, the topics of cybercrime and the release of Trump’s tax returns were given too much time relative to their overall importance.
Inversely, there needed to be more emphasis regarding Clinton’s proposed corporate restructuring schemes and plans to infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. These sentiments were characteristic of the radical segment of the far-left and Trump should have challenged her on this instead of using his endorsement from the NRA as an excuse to agree with her. He also should have discredited any false implications that she was a member of the middle class.
While there were a number of factually incorrect or factually dubious statements made by both sides, I believe the most egregious were Trump’s accusation that the Federal Reserve was politicized and Secretary Clinton’s claim that stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional. Clinton’s “Trumped-Up, Trickle-Down” was meant to soar, but it fell from the sky. Conversely, I think the line “call Sean Hannity” needs to enter the vernacular. Finally, we also need to be more critical of our debate process, and the fact that third-party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson were excluded has drawn some well-earned criticism.
Ryan Schelwat is a member of the Hofstra Republicans
The views and opinions expressed in the Op-Ed section are those of the authors of the articles. They are not an endorsement of the views of The Chronicle or its staff. The Chronicle does not discriminate based on the opinions of the authors.