My reaction to watching the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York was irritation. It wasn’t so much the way Hillary Clinton was allowed to politic her way into a technical win. Nor the way the glib media openly rejoiced afterwards in a victory for their candidate. And it wasn’t because of the obvious one-sided question format intended to put Donald Trump on defense while giving Clinton a pass. No, these things were expected. What was most irritating was watching Hillary Clinton passing off distortions of truth and gross lies as fact while the moderator continually shifted the debate to a new question. It was Donald Trump’s responsibility to fact check Hillary but this was not a debate, it was a choreographed attack on Trump. If that sounds like an all too convenient excuse to explain Trump’s performance, consider the following:
Hillary is the most corrupt candidate to ever run for public office (I warned you). She’s been under criminal investigation by the FBI for violations of the espionage act and has essentially sold her influence as Secretary of State. Yet, we didn’t get one moderated question on the millions of dollars of donations paid to the Clinton Foundation and to the Clintons personally for speaking fees. No questions about her private email server and mishandling of confidential material. Nor did we get any questions about her bad judgment in the downfall of the Libyan government and the attacks on Benghazi. We did not get one moderated question about her support of the Iraq war causing the rise of ISIS, a humanitarian crisis and the resultant terror attacks around the world including the steep increase in attacks on U.S. soil. She wasn’t asked about her support for a substantial increase in the inflow of refugees ignoring FBI warnings about vetting problems. On domestic issues, Clinton didn’t get one moderated question about the collapse of Obamacare exchanges and the costly expansion of Medicare and Medicaid nor her plan to rebuild the economy and address our 20 trillion dollar debit to support these programs. Finally, we received no questions about her transparency issues involving her health. (And if your answer is it wasn’t the topic of the first debate - read on.) However, what we did get were six follow up questions directed at Donald Trump unrelated to the stated debate goals about the Obama birther controversy, his support for the Iraq war (reminder - he’s a private citizen), his position on stop and frisk, and his statement on Clinton not having a “presidential look.” Personal questions about tax returns and appearance or treatment of women are unprecedented in Presidential Debates. It doesn’t lead to the kind of substantive details that the American people need to hear. It makes no sense until you realize it was all in an effort to make Trump look petty at the same time making Clinton look substantive. And how many follow up questions were directed at Hillary Clinton? Zero.
Hillary Clinton came rehearsed with ideological pedantic statements that screamed out to be rebutted and swatted down. She stands for the status quo. She represents a continuation of the policies that have failed America in a year that Americans are demanding change. Trump is that change agent. One of the few times Trump was effective in exposing Hillary, he reminded everyone that Hillary Clinton has been in politics for thirty years with nothing to show for it. Fortunately for Trump, what did come across very well was Hillary Clinton’s inability to look human. She displayed a forced smile and aloof arrogance that didn’t make you feel like she was even concerned with sounding truthful or connected to the American people. Trump however felt real, emotionally involved and honest. People will soon forget the details of the debate, but they will long remember how each candidate made them feel.
The first thirty minutes was an even toe-to-toe match with most of the media declaring the balance of the debate a win for Hillary Clinton. But here are some of the most egregious sound bites that should have been challenged. Right away from the opening statement, we got a sense of how Clinton proposes to build the economy:
- “I want us to invest in you. I want us to invest in your future. That means jobs in infrastructure, in advanced manufacturing, innovation and technology, clean, renewable energy, and small business, because most of the new jobs will come from small business.
Why do the democrats always run to infrastructure when growing the economy? These projects create temporary jobs at a huge expense to the government because they are poorly managed. Two economic stimulus bills by Obama spending more than we did to create our entire highway system did not produce one permanent job. Investment in green energy did not create one job. And Clinton’s tax plan isn’t designed to help business. It’s designed to punish success by raising taxes and burdening business with mandatory benefits, minimum pay levels and intrusive government regulation.
- “We also have to make the economy fairer. That starts with raising the national minimum wage and also guarantee, finally, equal pay for women's work.”
There are federal equal rights and anti-discrimination laws that prevent discrimination in pay based on gender. This statement by Clinton is a naked plea for the female vote with nothing behind it.
TAXES AND GROWING THE ECONOMY
- “We also, though, need to have a tax system that rewards work and not just financial transactions. And the kind of plan that Donald has put forth would be trickle-down economics all over again. In fact, it would be the most extreme version, the biggest tax cuts for the top percent of the people in this country than we've ever had. I call it trumped-up trickle-down, because that's exactly what it would be.”
Trump is right that Clinton has NO plan to cut taxes on the middle class (see here). Not only that, it raises taxes on investments and capital gains on everyone as over half of all Americans have investments in the stock market through savings and retirement funds. Perhaps the greatest single lie told by the left that “trickle down” empirically does not work. Coolidge, JFK and Reagan all cut taxes on ALL Americans along with other monetary policies and grew the economy. The result was that the government collected more revenue than they would have, even from the rich. The Laffer curve demonstrates that any tax rate above 33% results in a negative effect to our economy and reduces the amount of revenue to the government. When you keep more money in the economy, it increases the money supply and it has a ripple effect. This is a proven fact and has worked in our history.
BLAMING THE HOUSING COLLAPSE ON TAX CUTS
- “Well, let's stop for a second and remember where we were eight years ago. We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm.”
Tax cuts to the rich (or anyone else) resulted in the housing bubble crash? That’s news to most of us. Not only did her husband repeal the Glass-Stegall Act relaxing regulations on banks, but in 1993 Bill Clinton and the Democrats championed “affordable housing” requiring lenders to create sub-prime loans loosening underwriting standards resulting in the mortgage meltdown. (see here)
CLEAN ENERGY GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES
- “Take clean energy. Some country is going to be the clean- energy superpower of the 21st century. Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it's real. And I think it's important that we grip this and deal with it, both at home and abroad. And here's what we can do. We can deploy a half a billion more solar panels. We can have enough clean energy to power every home. We can build a new modern electric grid. That's a lot of jobs; that's a lot of new economic activity.”
Since 1973, U.S. government agencies have spent $154.7 billion on “renewable energy” with very little to show for it. Proponents of solar technology claim that their favored technology is on the verge of being competitive with traditional forms of energy, but they have made the same claim since at least the mid-1990s. Billions of dollars in subsidies later, solar still only comprises at most 0.2 percent of U.S. electricity production according to the Energy Information Administration. (see here)
- “When I was secretary of state, we actually increased American exports globally 30 percent. We increased them to China 50 percent. So I know how to really work to get new jobs and to get exports that helped to create more new jobs”
Clinton wants to take credit for the rise in exports while she was Secretary of State but the huge increase was due to the rapid growth of China’s economy. The Obama Administration did little or nothing to help this increase. But the boom in U.S. exports did nothing to help erase America’s trade deficit with China, which was $295 billion in 2011, $22 billion higher than the year before. (see here)
- TRUMP: “And now you want to approve Trans-Pacific Partnership. You called it the gold standard of trade deals. You said it's the finest deal you've ever seen.” CLINTON: “Well, that is just not accurate. I was against it once it was finally negotiated and the terms were laid out.”
Clinton had a long history of praising the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TP) even encouraging the involvement of other countries calling it the gold standard of trade deals. It was only after she began running for president and faced heavy opposition from Bernie Sanders and now Donald Trump whom both oppose TPP did she later change her position. (See here) In fact, one of her long-time allies, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, went so far as to suggest that Clinton would change her position again and approve TPP once elected. (See here)
STOP AND FRISK
- HOLT: “Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.” TRUMP: No, you're wrong. It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it’s allowed.” CLINTON: “Stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional and, in part, because it was ineffective. It did not do what it needed to do.”
Both Clinton and Holt act as if they have never heard of the 1968 Supreme Court Ruling involving Terry vs Ohio (see here). Clinton, as an attorney doesn’t know this? That ruling declared that stop and frisk was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment against unlawful search and seizures. Trump’s account of events leading up to the New York Federal Court Challenge was correct and was never appealed as it should have been before the judge was removed for bias. When stop and frisk was instituted in New York by Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1993, murders dropped from an average of 2500 to 600.
Lets remember too what happened to Matt Lauer following the Presidential Forum at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan. Lauer received a storm of criticism about being too soft on Trump and asking tough questions of Clinton. The message was received loud and clear and Lester Holt knew his performance in the Presidential Debate could ultimately affect his career. (See here)
In the end, just 18% of voters say the debates will affect how they will vote, a figure that historically has proven to be much lower. And this represents the independent or undecided vote, not loyal Trump supports that only increase in support after media attacks. But it’s clear Trump is going to have to be quicker on his feet if he’s going to have to debate Clinton and deal with partisan debate moderators. This first debate may soon be forgotten but I don’t think I’ll soon forgot one very memorable line from Trump:: “Typical politician - all talk, no action. Sounds good, doesn’t work. Never gonna happen.” I don’t think he can be more right.