We hear what we want to hear. Maybe it's my anti-Clinton bias, but it seemed to me that Donald Trump won last night's Great Debate II, in spite of being attacked not just by Mrs Bill Clinton but by the supposedly non-partisan moderators, particularly ABC's (((Martha Raddatz))). Poor Len Canayen would say that if the referees are against you, you're lucky to escape with a draw. The Donald did better than that.
Right from the get-go, Hellery (and Ms Raddatz) were determined to put Mr Trump on the defensive over an 11-year-old video in which he made some raunchy comments about being able to have his way with celebrity groupies "because I'm famous". Mr Trump met the question head-on, admitting that he said "those words" and wasn't proud of it. But, he said, it was just locker-room talk, the kind of thing guys say in jest when they're shooting the shit. (No, he didn't use that phrase.) To me, that sounds about right, and I think most men will see it that way. As for harpies like Ms Raddatz, well, they weren't going to vote for him anyway.
Just before the debate, Mr Trump held a presser in which Trump he introduced "four courageous women", three of whom -- Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey -- have accused Slick Willy Clinton of sexual assault or sexual harassment. The fourth, Kathy Shelton, was 12 years old when Hillary Clinton was hired to represent the 41-year-old Arkansas man who raped her. Mrs Clinton got the pervert off, and tapes exist of her cackling over her great victory.
The implied threat of the press conference was that Mr Trump would counter attacks on his supposedly misogynistic attitudes with references to Bill's actions -- not just words but actions -- before, during and after his presidency. And that's what The Donald did. "There's never been anyone in the history of politics in this nation who has been so abusive to women," he said of Bill Clinton's inability to stop "dicking bimbos" (the words of Colin Powell).
Although Mr Trump held back from the most stinging personal attacks he could have used, he resurrected several names, including Paula Jones, with whom the former president settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $850,000 US. That line of attack somehow fell flat, just like Shrillery's tut-tutting over The Donald's comments on women, Muslims, the Khan family, yada yada yada. Perhaps people are starting to realize that, as Mr Trump said himself, "It's just words, folks. It's just words."
Donald Trump still needs some coaching in the fine art of debating. He has good points to make, but needs to learn that once the point is made, the smart thing to do is shut up, not go sailing around the horn on something else. Towards the end of the debate, the candidates were asked what would be their criteria for appointing judges to the Supreme Court. La Clinton said that she'd be looking for someone who'd uphold Roe v Wade and equality of marriage (read: gay "marriage"). Mr Trump said what I was waiting to hear, that he'd recommend a judge who would uphold the United States Constitution. That's when he should have stopped, but he couldn't resist adding that he wanted a judge who respected the Second Amendment. In rebuttal, Mrs Clinton took the bait on that one, saying that she supports the Second Amendment too. The real point, about whether SCOTUS judges should interpret the law or try to make new law, got lost.
Speaking of law, Mr Trump made much of the destruction by the First Lady Who Wants To Be Empress of 33,000 e-mails, after having received a subpoena from the House of Representatives to produce the same. He vowed to appoint a special prosecutor to re-investigate Clinton's violations of the law and contempt of Congress. La Clinton used the opportunity to take another shot at Trump as someone who lacks the temperament to take "charge of the law in our country."
Hillary: Good thing you are not in charge of the laws of this country
Trump: You'd be in jail!
That line was, IMHO, the best of the evening, and obviously resonated with the "town hall" audience, which burst into applause before being shushed by both CNN's Anderson Cooper and (((Martha Raddatz))), both of whom were against The Donald all night. At one point, just over an hour in, Mrs Clinton stood silently while Ms Raddatz took up the hectoring of Mr Trump on her behalf.
One more exchange stuck in my mind. The candidates were asked what they were going to do about the disaster in Aleppo, and how they would go about defeating ISIS. Donald Trump said that you couldn't hope to defeat an enemy you refused to name -- "radical Islamic terrorists". He repeated the phrase three times, challenging Mrs Clinton to use those politically incorrect words, which she did not do, will not do, perhaps cannot do.
When pressed for an answer on how to deal with The Enemy Which Cannot Be Named, La Clinton said "I hope ISIS will be gone by the time I become President in November." Wow. I so wish The Donald would hold his interruptions while his opponent make gaffes like that one, and then hit her with a zinger, like "That's your big military plan to take care of ISIS? Hope the bad people will just go away?" He badly needs a writer. My services are available for a very reasonable hourly rate.
I give Great Debate No. 2 -- the most rancorous I've ever seen, and I've been watching since 1960 -- to Donald Trump. I'm judging by the audience reaction which Cooper and Raddatz really had to work to suppress. I'm also scoring by the amount of time Mrs Clinton had that rictus smile plastered on her face -- a sure sign that the smiler feels threatened... as well she might.
Footnote: Almost forgot to mention the funniest exchange of the night. When La Clinton was forced to explain her speeches to Wall Street businesspeople, in which she said that leaders "need both a public and a private position" on some issues, she explained that she had just seen a movie about Abraham Lincoln and was talking about his leadership strategy which she greatly admired. The Donald shot back, "She lied. Now she’s blaming the lie on the late, great Abraham Lincoln. That’s one that I haven’t — okay, Honest Abe never lied. That’s the good thing. That’s the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you."
Further reading: "Quick Debate Reactions from Switzerland", by Scott "Dilbert" Adams, today. "I just watched the debate on replay. Trump won bigly." Now there's something you're not going to read in the lamestream media!