BY KAREN OCAMB | To supporters of Hillary Clinton and to many Republicans frustrated by Reality TV star Donald Trump’s ascent to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Monday night’s debate at Hofstra University proved that the real estate developer is not ready for the primetime stage of the presidency.
“The first debate featured an unprepared man repeatedly shouting over a highly prepared woman,” read Ezra Klein’s headline for his Vox analysis. “The coherence gap between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was devastating.”
As Klein and others have pointed out, while Clinton was prepared to be president – specific plans, experience and all – the Donald Trump who showed up for the debate was the same arrogant mugger who plays to under-educated white voters. Trump’s cult-like supporters are enthralled with the Republican’s bravado, his middle finger to polite decorum and civility and his apparent business acumen, even as more and more investigative reports point out his history of shafting those he’s hired and uses his tax-exempt foundation for personal purposes.
Trump lazily thought he could wing it against Clinton while lying as if the truth and facts were merely matters of mutable convenience. “Trump’s riffs were dotted by baldfaced lies of the kind the press will easily check, but, more consequentially, he spoke in a barely coherent stream of consciousness,” Klein wrote.
Klein tweeted a passage regarding Trump’s response to cyber security threats as an illustration of the “bizarre” experience of actually reading, not just listening to Trump’s presentation:
Trump’s rambling answer about shirking history and not disclosing his tax returns yielded the surprising admission that not paying taxes makes him “smart.”
Trump also alleged that the birther movement was started by the Clinton campaign in 2008, enabling Clinton to say: “He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior.” Though that might not have seemed like the knockout punch some wanted, it was a tough line – Clinton call Trump a racist to his face before 80 million viewers.
There were a few moments for LGBT voters who were engrossed in the drama, though most of the action was off-stage. Clinton’s vice presidential nominee, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, paid his respects at a memorial to the Pulse murder victims in Orlando before joining a Human Rights Campaign debate watch party.
Trump, however, in explicably returned to complaining about his old nemesis, lesbian talk show host Rosie O’Donnell. The reference came in Clinton’s stinging rebuke to Trump’s sexism.
“This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs, and dogs,” Clinton said. “And someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers, who has said women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men.”
“Rosie O’Donnell — I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her,” Trump replied. Trump ended by whining that Clinton’s advertisements using his own words denigrating women were “not nice.” In the spin room afterwards, Trump said he planned to mention Monica Lewinsky as a way of humiliating Clinton, but didn’t because Ivanka Trump’s friend Chelsea Clinton was in the room.
Madonna was not happy.
The audience and the Twitterverse noted Trump’s annoying sniffling – with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean asking if it was a cocaine issue – (Trump told Fox News he was not sniffling) and Twitter exploded over Trump’s constant exasperating interruptions in a failed attempt to bully Clinton. But it was Clinton’s story about Alicia Machado, a former winner of Trump’s Miss Universe pageant in 1996, that riled up women and others concerned about body-shaming. Clinton indignantly said Trump had called her “Miss Piggy” after Machado gained weight and “Miss Housekeeping” because she’s Latina – who just became a US citizen. And, said Clinton, “you can bet she’s going to vote this November!”
“After that episode, I was sick, anorexia and bulimia for five years,” Machado told Inside Edition about the ridicule. “Over the past 20 years, I’ve gone to a lot of psychologists to combat this.”
Trump doubled down during an appearance on Fox & Friends early Tuesday morning, saying “She gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.”
Machado, meanwhile, tweeted out a thank you to Clinton in Spanish, adding: “I’m with you!” The Clinton campaign also posted a video in which Machado tells of her humiliating interaction with Trump. “This is a man who doesn’t realize the damage he causes,” she says. “He bears many grudges and harbors a deep racism, and he is convinced there are lesser human beings than him.”
In the spin room after the debate, Trump announced another conspiracy theory to imply that the presidential debate commission may have rigged the debate, the Daily Beast reports: “And they also gave me a defective mic. Did you notice that?” Trump told reporters. “My mic was defective within the room.” “I wonder. Was that on purpose?….But I had a mic that wasn’t working properly.”
Asked about that on the campaign plane headed to North Carolina Tuesday (where she brought up the anti-LGBT HB2), Clinton said: “Anyone who complains about the microphone is not having a good night.”