I want everyone to know what Hillary Clinton did tonight. It isn’t just that she ‘won’ the debate; Democratic presidential candidates have been winning these debates on substance since 1980 and often, it doesn’t help them in the election. She went in there tonight with two objectives: 1) make people warm up to her personally and 2) make Donald Trump self-destruct. Donald Trump’s objective was to make people believe that he is a grown-up, or at least that he can pretend to be a grown-up for ninety minutes.
I knew how it was going to go down as soon as she said, “Donald, it’s good to be with you.” I knew for two reasons. First: because she really meant it. She was genuinely pleased to be on a stage with him. And it’s not because she likes him. It’s because she knew she was going to fuck him up and she knew exactly how she was going to do it and she was really looking forward to it.
Second: she called him Donald. She called him Donald all night long. Consistently and deliberately and for three good reasons. One: it reminds everyone that he has never held a position that gives him any right to a title other than “Mr.” Two: it seems friendly, but it also really pisses him off. And three: By calling him Donald, she avoided repeating his brand name.
This is the level on which Clinton and her team are working. Donald Trump has staked everything on his last name–the name he inherited from his father. It’s Trump this, Trump that, Trump the other. When he puts his name on a thing, it doesn’t say Donald anywhere, it just says TRUMP. TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP. Trump is a good brand name. It’s a noun, it’s a verb, it’s triumphant-sounding. “Donald” has none of those qualities. If she’d been calling him “Mr. Trump,” every time she said it, she would be advertising the Trump brand, which is of course the exact opposite of what she’s there to do. So she called him Donald. And he could not take it.
Without losing her temper, raising her voice, or descending to his level, she made that bastard reveal himself to the Jedi. She brought up things that are going to seem completely unsympathetic to voters, but of which Trump himself is really proud: like not paying any federal taxes (”That makes me smart,” Trump said), stiffing his contractors (”Maybe they didn’t do good work,” Trump said; “I took advantage of the laws,” Trump said), his repeated bankruptcies, the $14 million loan from his father (”A very small loan,” Trump called it). She noted that he exploited the housing crisis for personal gain (”That’s called business,” Trump said). She called him out for his racism; he responded by proving that she’s right (Trump, apparently, is aggrieved that he did not get a medal for opening a club that did not discriminate against Black people even though it was in a really nice part of Florida). When he made what to me was a cryptic jab about her “staying home” while he was traveling, she just smiled and said, “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes, I did. You know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be President. And I think that’s a good thing.”
He tried to talk over her. She ignored him. That was beautiful. One, because it’s exactly the way Trump should be treated, all the time; and two, because it made him even madder. His inability to get a rise out of her made him lose his mind. This is a man who wants to be President of the United States. And he spent an entire 2-minute segment begging people to call Sean Hannity so he could vouch for the fact that Trump was always against the Iraq war. Nobody would talk to Sean Hannity, he complained. Why would no one talk to Sean Hannity?
She was capable of actually remembering the original question and getting around to answering it after dealing with the human distraction standing next to her. He often seemed to completely forget the question seconds into his answer. At times, he was so busy talking over the moderator that he didn’t even hear the question.
Hillary Clinton has been dealing with entitled, narcissistic, patronizing, asshole men her entire life as a Senator and as Secretary of State. She has skills in this area. She used them all tonight; and she enjoyed doing it. She looked like she was at ease, confident, and having a great time. She looked young. That was the way I put it to Mrs. Plaidder, and she agreed. She looked fresh, and energized, and exhilarated by the challenge. And that only made Trump’s “stamina” bullshit seem even dumber.
She stayed focused, despite his distractions. She dropped every bomb she came to drop at exactly the right moment. She used everything he bragged about against him. She made him too mad to put together a coherent sentence. And she smiled.
We knew she could to the job. We now know she can win this election.
During, I believe, the 2012 presidential election, people used to pass around a photo of Obama pointing forcefully at the camera with the caption, “Everybody chill the fuck out. I got this.”
Y’all can chill the fuck out now. Hillary Clinton has this shit handled. She knows how he works and if he is ever fool enough to share a stage with her again she will fillet him. And yes. I AM WITH HER.