I wonder who gave Holt his marching orders because I do not think it was the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates, who hosted it. Most likely it was the big guys at NBC who pulled Holt aside and told him how the cow was going to eat the cabbage. As a result, Holt did not ask Mrs. Clinton one tough question all night, nor did he interrupt her when she spoke at length. Conversely, Mr. Trump was interrupted 41 times by Mr. Holt and at one point challenged. This was not the job of moderator Holt any more than it was the job of moderator Crowley, but when has that ever stopped them?
At the outset Mr. Trump went out of his way to be deferential to Mrs. Clinton, inquiring if addressing her as “Secretary of State Clinton” would be appropriate, and naturally she agreed to having her ego stroked. It should be noted that Mrs. Clinton is no longer Secretary of State, and it should also be noted that she made no effort to return the courtesy. Instead, she spent the evening referring to Mr. Trump as “Donald,” attempting to signal that he was beneath her, a boy who hadn’t yet reached his majority. Pretty classy, huh? And a taste of what was to come.
The first question went to Mrs. Clinton: “Why are you a better choice than your opponent to create the kinds of jobs that will put more money into the pockets of American workers?” First, she noted the day of the debate coincided with her granddaughter’s second birthday, and disingenuously went on to say this made her think a lot about the future. As far as I can tell, this was the only question Mrs. Clinton (oops, I mean SOS Clinton) needed to hit every item on her usual (socialist) punch list: the rich need to pay their fair share; we need to raise the minimum wage; college should be free; there should be paid family leave and earned sick days, and (a new one!) profit sharing for all. And how is she going to pay for this? By taxing the rich and closing the loopholes. The part of Holt’s question concerning how she planned to create jobs received this vacuous drivel: 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. Curiously, Lester Holt didn’t ask for any details about this investing in you and me business, despite his promise to “press for specifics.” Evidently he reserved “pressing for specifics” only for Mr. Trump.
Mrs. Clinton’s entire plan for turning around the American economy is built on wealth redistribution. If you believe for one minute that any such actions on the part of our federal government is going to do anything to stimulate growth in our economy then you need to go back to school. Who knows, you might be able to sit beside Mrs. Clinton in a class on how the economy really works.
Well, that touching-all-the-bases response was the last that Mrs. Clinton really gave. From that point on, she engaged in the usual Clinton modus operandi: character assassination. These character assassination remarks never have anything to do with anything and take some ingenuity to work into the conversation. For example, Mrs. Clinton slyly noted that Mr. Trump and she had different perspectives on “growing the economy” because Trump had been given a $14 million loan to start his business and, gosh, poor Hillary’s father was a printer of drapery fabric. What has that got to do with anything? But, nothing like stirring up a little class envy, right?
Not to be outdone, Mr. Holt decided to go after Trump both on the Obama “birther” issue and the fact that he has not released his tax returns yet. For the record, candidates are not required to do this, but you wouldn’t know that judging from the debate. Never once did Holt turn to Mrs. Clinton and ask about Benghazi, her private email server, or the pay for play allegations down at the Clinton Foundation. No, no. This “debate,” where Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump should presumably have argued the same question devolved into beating up Mr. Trump and letting Mrs. Clinton pile on. Again, and for the record, Mr. Trump was correct when he claimed the stop and frisk program was never declared unconstitutional, despite Mr. Holt admonishing him to the contrary. This was Holt’s own Candy Crowley moment.
Now that the first debate is behind us, I really do not see that it accomplished anything of substance. The media would have you believe that their role is to help you make up your mind, not by moderating these debates impartially but by playing the great arbiters. Some Americans will fall for that and become totally absorbed in the shenanigans they put out—like this debate. This country is in big trouble and we deserve more than this last spectacle. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani got it right: “If you wonder why Donald Trump thinks that the press is a left-wing basically oriented group, Lester Holt proved it tonight." We can only hope that the next two moderators—Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz—will be more neutral. On the other hand, they couldn’t be less.
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