Last night millions of Americans were treated to the best reality show on television, the 2016 Presidential campaign. Coming just days after the Trump bombshell from 11 years ago, the debate was again dominated by mudslinging and calls from Clinton to fact check her opponent. Lost in the void of their ceaseless attacks was their mostly rhetoric-free dialogue.
Here are my 5 knee jerk reactions to the “presidential” town hall debate:
- The town hall was mostly low on substance – it’s not completely clear HOW the audience was chosen to participate in this “town hall styled” debate. And, of course, why would it be? The “commission on presidential debates” has been anything but transparent in their processes. According to reports they worked with Gallup to secure “randomly selected” uncommitted voters. Even more concerning is the vague description on how the questions were chosen and who wrote them. The uncommitted voters lobbed softballs at the candidates. One question from the audience, however, led to a particularly ironic exchange…
- Islamic issues were front and center – my favorite audience question was, “There are 3.3 million Muslims in the United States and I’m one of them. You’ve mentioned working with Muslim nations but with Islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country after the election is over?” That’s a whopper and the irony shouldn’t be lost on anyone. Donald Trump has inspired some of the worst examples of Islamophobia our nation has ever seen. Hillary Clinton has helped create the environment that has led to the rise of ISIS. These two candidates have no credibility in answering a question of this caliber.
- Sex tapes, and locker room talk, and rape allegations – Have you ever seen a presidential debate in which one of the moderators (Anderson Cooper) had to explain to one of the candidates (Donald Trump) that he had basically admitted to committing sexual assault? “I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…” – yeah, that’s sexual assault if he’s done that. Donald Trump described this exchange as “locker room talk” no fewer than FIVE times in defense of himself. Anderson Cooper then asked Donald Trump about his “check out sex tape and past” comment – which Trump denied (it’s true). Finally, Donald Trump invited to the debate as his guests Paula Jones, Jaunita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Kathy Shelton and held a press conference with them before the debate. This is what presidential politics looks like. Not a question, that’s the new norm.
- Where was the Pied Piper? – Martha Raddatz asked Hillary Clinton about the Wikileaks release of speech excerpts from paid speeches. Hillary Clinton has refused to release these speeches herself (which is absolutely inexcusable), one of the speeches outlined her belief that politicians need both a “public and private” position on certain issues. Clinton’s responses? She was referencing the Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln” (kudos to you if you thought Spielberg was going to be mentioned tonight). However, that’s really not the full context and Raddatz did a poor job following up. Perhaps the worst failing of the night was that there was no mention of the “Pied Piper” candidates bombshell. In 2015 the Clinton campaign decided it was important to elevate “Pied Piper candidates” – Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Donald Trump. That infers that the Clinton campaign is responsible, at least in part, for the divisive and destructive nature of the current state of politics.
- Gary Johnson was absent again, this time we noticed – last night I tweeted: “If you watched this #debate tonight and came away impressed with either candidate, yikes. #letgarydebate – we need @GovGaryJohnson on stage.” On a night that was so incredibly low on substance, and high on mudslinging, controversy, and scandal, we needed a third voice to add levity and intelligence to the discourse. What was missing from the debate was a candidate capable of wrangling the warmongering hypocrites. The “commission on presidential debates” has stacked the deck against our country, turning our political discourse into a laughable disaster. Even if you disagree with Johnson’s politics, you certainly cannot be happy with the tenor of the current discussion. The stage is currently equal parts oligarch / authoritarian. We should try some liberty for a change.