Live blogging #debatenight
by Doc Searls Monday, September 26, 2016

Easier to write this top down than bottom up. Just saying that. The latest will go at the bottom.

I believe Trump answered the first jobs question better than Hillary. He said he'd cut taxes on business, and was clear about it. 

Hillary seemed nervous at first. Better once she got going. She did an okay job of defending the Obama economic record. Could have been much better.

Trump sounds better when he talks about problems. Jobs that are leaving. Hard times. He comes across as a bully, but that also reads as strong to many.

He talks problems and accusations. She talks policy. Much less interesting.

He says she has no plan. She says she has a book about it. Good come-back, but she still sounds a bit nervous.

He's hitting hot buttons. Cutting taxes and regulations. "I'm cutting taxes big league. I'm cutting regulations big league." That scores with business. What percentage of the country either operates or works in a small business? A large one. She comes back with accusations that he's cutting taxes for the rich. True, but aside from the good points he made about cutting taxes for business.

He's all characterization at this point. 

Holt is barely moderating at all.

Trump: getting rid of "the carried interest provision." That's inside-business-ball that only speaks to businesses people who know what that is. Which are lots.

On businesses leaving the country, on bureaucratic red tape, Trump again scores for clarity and simplicity. 

"We have no leadership... It all starts with Secretary Clinton." Unfair and wrong. But it scores.

Hillary is playing fair. Trump isn't. 

Still waiting for Hillary to score a hit. "Slashing taxes on the wealthy doesn't work." Not bad. 

Trump: "Typical politician..." Score.

"We have the worst revival of the economy since the great depression. We are in a big bad ugly bubble." Another one. Hard to argue without getting complicated.

Hillary didn't interrupt Trump in this last round. He interrupted her repeatedly through her last answer.

Losing the Youtube feed. Shit. Okay, it's back.

"I will release my tax returns when she releases 33,000 emails..." He's standing behind his refusal to release his tax returns. Saying it's being audited. Poor excuse. I doubt it will stick.

Hillary hitting back hard on what Trump may be trying to hide. "That means I'm smart," Trump snarked. 

Emails: "I made a mistake... and I take responsibility." Short and minimal answer by Hillary. Good.

"That was done purposefully," Trump says, suggesting she knew better and did it anyway.

"You don't learn that much from tax returns. You learn more from disclosure..." That's Trump answering with details about his businesses. "I could give you a list of banks... I am very under-leveraged... It's about time this country has somebody running it who knows something about money... Our airports... like a third world country. We owe $20 trillion..." Something about wasting $6 billion, more or less, in the Middle east. "We don't have the money because we've squandered..." Mostly unrelated points with causes and effects entirely separate. But it sounds like he knows something, which will score with his consituency. 

Hillary: "If your main claim to running this country is your businesses, then we should look at ..." And she gives specific examples, such as of people getting stiffed. His response so far is weak. "You've taken business bankruptcy six times," she says. He's interrupting her less on this one.

Trump: "It's all words. It's all soundbites... On occasion we've taken advantage of certain laws of the nation. I'm running a company. My job is to do well for myself, my family, my employees... We're opening the old post office (on Pennsylvania Ave) under budget..." Scoring again on specifics. He's on much stronger turf talking about business.

Now the topic is race. "How do you heal the divide?"

Hillary: Can't quote her opener because it was tentative and all but quote-proof. Now: "We have to restore trust.... I've called for criminal justice reform... We have to bring communities together... We've gotta get guns out of the hands..." I so want her to be sounding stronger than this. Stronger than Trump. She isn't.

Trump: "We need law and order. If we don't have it, we don't have a country." Quotable. Simple. Insufficient. But, I suspect, with a nod to Scott Adams, persuasive. "In Chicago they've had thousands of shootings.... We have to bring back law and order." 

How can she compete against a walking quote pump? Can anybody remember a single quotable line of hers? I can name one: "If you want something said, get a man. If you want something done, get a woman." Dunno where she said it or when, but I remember it. And nothing else.

"When you have three thousand shootings since January 1st... you have to have stop and frisk. You need more police. You need better community relations..." 

He agreed police need better relationships with communities.

Listen for how much he uses short simple words. Helps.

Please, Hillary, land a good punch.

She did, as did Holt, with stop and frisk being unconstitutional.

Hillary: "The vibrancy of the black church. There is much we should be proud of and lift up." All single syllable words, but they come off flat, platitudinous.

"We can't just say Law and Order..." She should point out that Nixon was the one who created that sound bite, and the results were not great. 

Keeping my wife awake with my typing. Since I have no sense of anyone listening (two likes and one retweet so far), I may stop. Might be better just to listen. (Watching is harder, given poor bandwidth here. So I'm listening rather than watching.)

Holt is asking about Trump's birtherism. Trump is blaming Hillary, putting it off on Blumenthal and McClatchy, people almost nobody listening has heard of. Now he's switching to defeating ISIS and other talking points. Trump half-admits lying. Now he's bullying Holt, and Holt is putting up with it. Weak of Holt. Damn. I was expecting better.

My take so far: Trump is defeating not only Hillary, but the moderator too.

Hillary has a great opportunity with this one. And she's scoring, at last. "He's persisted year after year" on the birth certificate issue. Now she's talking about a 40+ year old discrimination case. Mistake: too long ago, too easily dismissed. "A long record of racist behavior." Probably true. Score. Now she's defending Obama too. Good.

Now Trump is giving Hillary shit for acting "holier than thou." And attempting to correct the old lawsuit. "Settled with zero admission of guilt." Good defense.

Trump has the sniffles. I'm sure this is being tweeted. Not checking.

Now a cyberwarfare question. Hillary has a strong response, but going over her time.

Trump: "Over 200 admirals and generals have endorsed me... I will take the admirals and generals over the political hacks... what a mess we are in." 

"Fact checking the debates" search:

Holt: how would you prevent home-grown attacks? Trump: "The way we got out of Iraq was a disaster." He used the term "vacuum." Good image.

Hillary calling on the fact-checkers is a good move. Holt is a sub-minimal one-man fact checker. But hey, that's at least part of his job.

She's also being strong on foreign policy, on the need for "cooperating with Muslim nations... they are on the front lines... not be alienated and pushed away."

She calls him Donald. He calls her The Secretary.

He's getting closer to his old New Yawk accent over time. "That bothas me..." 

He's taking credit improving NATO by criticizing it. "The vacuum created by Barack Obama and Secretary Clinton."

He's indicting the mainstream media now. He's citing appearances on Howard Stern, Sean Hannity. Flattening Holt, who is taking it.

"I have much better judgment than she has. I have a much better temperament than she has... I have a winning temperament. I know how to win." 

Hillary: "Whomf! Okay!" And talks about NATO, which is still fighting in Afghanistan "on our side." Some other strong stuff. Her strongest performance, again, is in foreign policy. "He has said repeatedly that he doesn't care about other countries getting nuclear weapons... His cavalier attitude about nuclear weapons... A man who can be provoked by a tweet should not be anywhere near the nuclear codes." Good line, solid punch, quotable at last. 

Trump: "Not accurate. Nuclear is the single greatest threat." He lists countries that we defend without them paying us. "We lose on everything."

Holt: "We need to move on." Trump talks over him.

Last segment. "Do you support the current policy on first use?"

Trump: "Russia has been expanding.... we are not keeping up... I would not do first strike... We have to be prepared... I won't take anything off the table." He says China should be taking care of North Korea. Calls the Iran deal "One of the worst deals with any country in history."

Holt is trying to moderate. Failing.

Hillary: "Words matter." Tells allies that she will honor defense treaties. "He says he has a secret plan. The only secret is he has no plan." Good one-liner. "I intend to be a leader of our country that people will count on..."

Trump's poll numbers are bound to go up after this, methinks, just on the basis of quotable one-liners, coming off as the stronger performer. (Very male/dominant/bully stuff, but that shit still works with a lot of people.) Debate-wise, she's been stronger at the end.

Trump: "I want to help all of our allies, but we are losing billions and billions of dollars..." Holt is failing to moderate the dude, who is going way over his :30 seconds.

Trump just ate Holt with "Did you ask me a question?" Which Trump isn't answering. Neither is Holt, who wants to just move on. 

The question was about Hillary's looking presidential. Trump said it was about stamina. 

She answered well, with her actual record requiring stamina. "...then he can talk to me about stamina." Got cheers.

Trump: "She has experience. But it's bad experience... You almost can't name a good deal." Getting cheers. He loves to talk deals. Very much in the character he portrays on TV.

"He tried to switch from looks to stamina... One of the worst things he said" was about a woman he called "Miss Piggy." 

He's now bragging, saying he not saying something "extremely rough" about Hillary or both Clintons (can't tell); but is pulling the punches. Now he's talking down Hillary's ads.

Last question is about the election outcome and supporting it. Hillary: "I support our democracy." Trump: "I want to make America great again." Etc. Not answering the question, until at last he says, "If she wins I will absolutely support her."

It's over. 

Much as I hate to (I think Trump is dangerous), I think he won this first debate.

On NBC, Trump is talking to his all-blonde-ish family, or so it seems. 

The NBC commentators seem to be calling it a tie. 

I'm betting the polls go up for Trump. We'll see. I'm going to bed.