A few thoughts on the first general election debate:
1. I am going to refer to Hillary by first name and Trump by last because I feel like Hillary is my best friend who I want to have a beer with right now and Trump is, well, Trump.
2. The best analogue to what Hillary did tonight is what Tom Cruise’s character did to Jack Nicholson’s in “A Few Good Men”: She needled Trump into proving her harshest points.
3. In the heat of the moment, she basically got him to admit that he has not paid income taxes for years.
4. In the heat of the moment, she got him to admit that he’s stiffed contractors.
5. In the heat of the moment, she got him to declare that blowing a hostile country’s boat out of the water wouldn’t lead to war.
6. You don’t need to be a fucking admiral to know that the United States military firing first and sinking a hostile country’s boat definitely leads to war!
7. If Democrats are smart, they will hammer home points 5 and 6 at every opportunity because any elected Republicans continuing to support Trump are now basically saying they’ll go along with a person who is so insane, stupid or both that he thinks firing on another country isn’t an act of war.
8. Some have argued that Trump has “said” bad things but hasn’t actually “done” bad things. Nonsense. As evidenced in points 3 and 4 (and more), Trump has abused every position of power he’s ever had and made terrible, self-destructive decisions. His flippant point about firing on a foreign country is a logical extrapolation about the future from his sociopathic past.
9. Hillary’s smiling and laughing is everything. It is no secret that I have been VERY harsh on Hillary’s performances at times in the past. But man, when she laid into Trump about “stamina,” pointing out her travels to 122 countries, brokering major international deals, and other acts of being a bad-ass, I literally leaped out of my chair.
10. I was told in college that if you want to know who won a debate, watch with the sound off. To me, the contrast in body language between the two candidates couldn’t have been clearer. One was calm, collected and in command. The other was not in control of himself.
11. Yes, Trump had a few strong moments. He threw out some red meat that will no doubt appeal to devoted Fox News viewers, which is unsurprising considering that his sexual harasser debate coach was literally running Fox News until a few weeks ago.
12. I’m not concerned with the Fox News crowd. They’re going to be with Trump anyway. Trump’s modest recent uptick in the polls represents disaffected Republicans coming home. That maxes out at about 43-44 percent nationally, which is about what John McCain won in 2008.
13. The challenge for Hillary is to consolidate the 56-57 percent of voters who aren’t partisan Republicans behind her, instead of behind third party candidates, and then energize them to turn out. On that front, I think she succeeded magnificently tonight.
14. Young people today don’t remember the ‘90s. They mostly don’t know Hillary outside of soundbites and memes. Tonight was an opportunity to see her as she is – a smart, capable woman who is somehow undeterred by just about anything that is thrown at her, including having to debate the biggest ignoramus in the history of American politics.
15. I can’t imagine every woman in America – including young women – didn’t notice Trump repeatedly interrupting and making faces as Hillary spoke. And she just laughed it off. Badass.
16. One of her strongest moments was talking about how everyone has racial bias within themselves and how racism is institutionalized in our society in ways that we have to confront. That is not something presidential candidates usually say, and certainly not white ones, and that was the moment that reached me emotionally.
17. In terms of performance, tonight was as good as Trump is going to be, and he wasn’t very good. He is who he is, same as in the Republican debates, same as at the convention. He simply doesn’t have the attention span to stay in his “serious” character for more than 15 minutes.
18. This is just the first debate of three. It ended with no resolution, no closing statement. It was a cliffhanger, basically. Future debates will likely have lower viewership, but they’ll still have plenty of audience — and Trump said a lot of things tonight that will get him pilloried by Hillary in the next two debates, and by Tim Kaine in the VP debates.
19. I have decided that I want to be the one guy in America who is just SUPER excited about Tim Kaine. I’m a Kaine-iac, people!
20. But seriously, I am so pumped up tonight, and if your politics are like mine, I want you to be pumped too and say it on Twitter, say it on Facebook, say it face to face with everyone you see wherever you can because enthusiasm is infectious, and we need to infect everyone around us with enthusiasm about Hillary Clinton, and fucking burying Donald Trump.
In that spirit, please go to ProudlyHillary.com to say that you are proud to be supporting Hillary Clinton, and if you supported Bernie in the primary but are with Hillary for the general, go to BernForHer.com and let the world know that we’re all on the same team now and we’re gonna get this thing done together. Then go to Hillary’s official website and sign up to volunteer next weekend.
If you do the things in 21, I promise to make a video in which I dance around to the song “She’s a Maniac” from “Flashdance,” with the lyrics changed to be about Tim Kaine. (He’s a Kaine-iac! Kaine-iac!)
Okay, let’s go out there and kick some ass.