If you watched last night’s debate, let’s see if your impressions line up with the ones cited here.

Poise

Both candidates started out posed and self-assured. But, it was only HRC who maintained that demeanor till the event’s end. She was unflappable,  her posture unwavering, her face soft and smiling. In contrast, just past the debate’s midpoint, Primadonald started to shift his weight from one foot to the other, frequently sniffling, changing his facial expressions, often towards one that suggested either mocking or ennui. Winner:  HRC.

Substantive, on-topic responding

The loser here gets determined by which of the two candidates had to be brought back to the question at hand by moderator Lester Holt. That was Primadonald. It happened on multiple occasions, especially during the last 30 minutes. During that period, the real estate tycoon transitioned out of presidential mode back into his campaigner persona. We saw a return of his expansive arm and hand gestures,  pontificating, grandiose promising, all evident in concert with his now familiar talking points. For her part, HRC held close to some general themes, avoiding getting into details that might be contested, even fact-checked. It wasn’t galvanizing rhetoric but it fit the context of the question that was relevant at the moment. Winner:  HRC.

Truthfulness

Here, we depend on the post-debate work of fact-checkers. What they offered made it clear that there was a clear winner when it came to honesty, and by an overwhelming ratio at that. HRC got caught in one whopper when she tried to weasel-word her way out of her well-documented assertion that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement was the “gold standard” for such pacts. She did make that assertion and only much later softened her stance and shifted left in response to pressure from Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign. So, that was “one” against HRC.

Never one to miss an opportunity to pile one falsehood atop of another, Primadonald persisted with his birther nonsense, claiming that it was started by the Clinton campaign (1), and that he ended it. He continued to deny that he originally supported the war in Iraq and our intervention in Syria, tape-recorded evidence to the contrary. His repeated Twitter claim that climate change is a “hoax”, perpetrated by China, was strenuously disavowed. He persisted in his provably false assertion that President Obama could have left a large garrison of US troops in Iraq and that the failure to do so resulted in the birth and strengthening of ISIS (2,3). Winner:  HRC.

The after-debate “spin cycle”

How do you pick a winner out of the “argle-bargle” generated by spokespeople for the two candidates?  Consider: Former Gov. Howard Dean, speaking on behalf of HRC, wondered if Primadonald’s “sniffling” (see above) might be a symptom of cocaine use? (4). Roger Stone, holding forth for Primadonald, intoned that HRC was in need of “oxygen” following the debate. Of course, he missed the candidate’s appearance at a post-debate rally where she spoke for several minutes and delivered a thank you to her supporters. Were the foregoing not bad enough, there was this “thigh-slapper” – MSNBC co-anchor Brian Williams was having a back-and-forth with Primadonald syncophant Gov. Chris Christie. In the process, Williams noted that there was going to be a lot of “fact-checking” to which Christie disdainfully said “Well, if we’re going to rely on fact-checkers….” Pray who better, Gov.?

Today, not yet 24 hours after the debate’s end, there is this one “tell” that gives away who won and who lost; i.e. which of the two candidates is trotting out excuses and identifying a scapegoat? The answer is Primadonald who is grousing about being wired with a “defective” mike and as being treated unfairly by the moderator who supposedly threw tougher questions at him as the debate wound down. And from the Clinton camp? Nothing; not even crickets.

Bottom line

HRC won the debate, not with flashiness and/or one-line zingers. Rather, she was steady, more on-topic,  relatively more honest, and in demeanor, more presidential.

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  1. The original birther was an attorney named Phillip Berg. He brought the first law suit seeking to have Obama declared ineligible to serve as president. He lost, appealed and lost again.
  2. As a well-established matter of fact, before leaving office, Pres. GW Bush negotiated with Iraqi President Al Maliki, a date certain for the withdrawal of all US troops. Obama tried to renegotiate that date but was steadfastly rebuffed by the Iraqi leader. There was no choice but to leave.
  3. The core leadership of ISIS formed out of Sunni-Iraqis who had been purged from the country’s army, a step taken by Paul Bremer, the man that Pres. Bush had put in charge of our occupation.
  4. Dean’s question is beyond the pale. Primadonald is well known as a person who eschews even an occasional alcoholic drink.

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