Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

A debate performance only the Trump diehards could love

The things I do for you ....

  • Donald Trump took the side of Russia and Vladimir Putin against U.S. civilian and military intelligence agencies, all of whom have concluded that Russia is attempting to interfere in our election by hacking into and releasing internal email traffic from Democratic officials. Just about every major Republican politician, including Trump's own running mate, has condemned that as completely unacceptable. But given the chance, Trump could not bring himself to criticize Putin. He can't quit him, he just can't quit him.
  • Over the past week or so, Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump and his campaign manager KellyAnne Conway , among others, have all reassured us that if Trump lost, he would accept that loss honorably. Tonight, Trump threw them all under the bus. He would not commit to accepting the voters’ verdict peacefully. And by refusing to say that he would accept the outcome of the election, and that he would ask his supporters to do so as well, he is once again putting his own needs, his own ego, ahead of the needs of the nation. "I'll keep you in suspense," Trump said, but by this point nobody should be surprised.
  • Initially, Trump managed to suppress himself. But over the marathon of 90 minutes he could not prevent his inner boor from asserting itself over and over again. “No, you're the one who is unfit!" "No, you’re the puppet!” And of course, the insult that will live in infamy: "Such a nasty woman." It is the debating style of a five-year-old.
  • Overall, Trump needed a major turnaround in the debate to force a major turnaround of momentum. He did not get that. To the contrary, he lost once again. He lost on style, or really the lack thereof, and he lost on content. Clinton used the debate as a prosecutor's final summation to the jury, and she did so effectively. I can't imagine that down-ballot Republicans went to bed last night feeling too secure.

The polls confirm the analysis above. YouGov's poll had it 49-39 in favor of Clinton. The CNN poll had it 52-39 Clinton. Those are basically the numbers that you get these days in voter preference polls, which suggests that the cement is hardening.

Finally, we did a little experiment last night with Facebook Live, posting a video of immediate reaction to the debate and then responding to questions. We've got some things to work out, but you might find it interesting.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.