After the first debate, there was some criticism of Clinton that she came off as “too prepared”—a semantic contrast to Trump’s lack of preparation—and then criticism of the criticism: How can someone be too prepared for something?
The answer to that question is that what was really meant by “too prepared” was “too programmed.”
That was true again last night to some extent, in my opinion, particularly when she didn’t respond to Trump’s bragging about his business prowess that Trump’s businesses lost $916 million in a single year and that he habitually stiffs employees and contractors. Instead she just mentioned that Trump started his business with a yuge loan from his multimillionaire father—an important point, but one that should have been joined to a comment noting that he lost $916 million in a single year and that he habitually stiffs employees and contractors.
That’s a point Clinton has made many times, including at each of the two earlier debates, when, granted, it mattered more. But the points are key to so much deconstructing Trump’s claim to business genius and also as critical evidence of his sociopathology. I hope she places this at the center of ads and rally comments going forward.
Clinton also failed to explicitly correct a glaring and really significant misstatement of fact by Chris Wallace, when he said that the low level of economic growth was caused by—led to—the 2009 Obama stimulus program. That was a preposterous falsehood, and I wondered whether any pundit would actually catch that and make an issue of it.
Thankfully, one did. Thank you, Professor Krugman. And I bet (and hope) you discuss it fully in your column tomorrow.
Look, I fully recognize that Clinton is at this point emotionally exhausted—really drained—as is Trump. It was evident on both of their faces almost from beginning to end last night. And on balance, she did fine, I thought.
But her very best moment last night came in a spontaneous comment, when she retorted, “Well, that’s because he [Putin] wants a puppet.” Obviously, it’s important to come to a debate armed with specific points to get across. But that should not preclude responding extemporaneously to statements by your opponent or by the moderator.