This is it–by which I don’t mean “It all comes down to this,” but rather, “You’re already looking at the election, folks: An increasingly-surreal, indeed improbable succession of humiliations for Donald Trump as he is revealed to be an even more depraved human being than all but the most-creative of us had imagined.” (Maybe this is why Stephen King of all people seems to be horrified that millions of people have already supported Donald Trump for President.) I know I could draw the wrath of…Whatever from High Atop the Thing, but after those 4 days that shook the world that opened on a Friday with the release of a 2005 hot mic video in which Trump bragged about being able to force himself on women, which featured an alternately tense and morally-obscene Second Debate performance on a Sunday and closed on a Monday with Trump threatening to turn his voters against elected Republicans who didn’t support him, tonight’s final Debate of the 2016 Presidential Election is more likely to serve as an effective public flogging than as a source of edification for the voting public…Oh, and there’s the dozen women who have accused Donald Trump of forcing himself of them over the years, often with details. Don’t worry; the Christian Right will vote for him.
10:28 pm: The last question is about the national debt, “which hasn’t been asked about before tonight,” Chris Wallace notes in an aside.
Secretary Clinton promises to “go where the money is”–to raise taxes on the rich. Trump proposes a large upper-income tax cut, which Secretary Clinton notes would greatly contribute to the national debt.
Trump calls the Affordable Care Act a big contributor to the national debt; Secretary Clinton clarifies that the Affordable Care Act cut Medicare spending, and that repealing the Affordable Care Act would compound Medicare’s structural budgetary insolvency.
10:19 pm: FOX News moderator Chris Wallace refers to Trump’s previous Debate comment that “Aleppo has fallen” to the Assad Regime; Wallace corrects Trump, noting that Aleppo is divided between the Assad Regime and many Syrian rebel factions and still very hotly-contested.
I think Chris Wallace might be the agent of an Establishment Republican stealth operation to undermine Trump on front of this election’s last truly national audience.
10:05 pm: Again, Trump has his “Colonel Jessup, did you order the code red?” moment, acknowledging that he doesn’t pay Federal income tax due to extremely favorable Federal tax treatment of real estate tax returns. Secretary Clinton gets off what is likely to be the zinger of the night: “Half of illegal immigrants pay Federal income taxes–which means that half of illegal immigrants pay more Federal income tax than a billionaire!”
9:55 pm: Secretary Clinton speaks eloquently on the abuse that women–all women–have had to confront from bad-mannered men. She speaks with rare fervor for this debate and manages to narrate the subject of Trump’s alleged mistreatment of women entirely in her favor…if that were necessary.
9:52 pm: Trump categorically denies that he groped any of his dozen accusers. He suggests that they are paid agents of the Clinton campaign…and then accuses President Obama and Secretary Clinton of paying agents provocateurs to start violence at his rallies! He even comes up with uncorroborated details. That’s an odd claim to just toss out in the middle of the Debate.
9:40 pm: Trump actually defends his loose talk of mid-summer that the United States’ wealthier allies should pay more for their own defense; it’s really a terrible and potentially-damaging argument. If Trump actually won the election he would walk into a diplomatic quagmire as he promised–publicly–to compel our many allies to carry their weight in the common defense.
9:30 pm: A friend watching the Debate notes that, while Secretary Clinton leans too hard on concerns about apparent Russian governments, and Trump actually misses an opportunity to criticize Clinton for sounding like a conspiracy theorist. Clinton makes the best of her misstep by focusing on Russian aggression, a subject where Trump is very weak with the hawks in his own party.
9:23 pm: Secretary Clinton goes in hard against Donald Trump on immigration: She notes that Trump’s combination of a proposed “deportation force” and zero-tolerance policy towards illegal immigrants, along with fringe proposals to rescind birthright citizenship would precede the deportation of 15 million people from the United States. Trump just flubs this subject completely: This is not the right venue to warn us that America is being “overrun.”
9:20 pm: Trump equates illegal immigration with heroin-smuggling in New Hampshire. This is difficult to comment on, people.
9:15 pm: Oh, that’s interesting: Trump answers a question on abortion by referring to “partial-birth” abortion as “rip(ping) the baby out of the womb.” Clinton refers to this as “empty rhetoric”; she should have called it “hyperbolic violent imagery.”
9:12 pm: Clinton and Trump both affirm that they take the Second Amendment seriously.
9:05 pm: The first question is about the Supreme Court: The next President will likely appoint 2, maybe 3 Supreme Court Justices. What kind of judges will you appoint, and how will this reflect your views on the Constitution?
Clinton and Trump both give safe answers: Clinton focuses on judicial principle, while Trump mentions having a list of candidate appointees and a Pro-Life judicial litmus test.