Let me start by admitting to a prejudice. I do not think Donald Trump is mentally nor emotionally qualified to be president, and my observations about last night’s debate are almost assuredly colored by that opinion.
My first reaction when the two candidates came onstage was that Trump’s make-up artist must have purposely sabotaged his appearance. He looked older, paler, and more wrinkled than I remember ever having seen him before. That initial impression was not improved by Mr. Trump’s almost constant scowl during the debate.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, looked fresh and well made up. Her make-up seemed to enhance the smile that was on her face during most of the debate. She looked cheery and energetic in contrast to Donald Trump’s tired appearance.
I was most disappointed by Hillary Clinton’s performance, because I had expected much more of her. She was obviously well prepared and had rehearsed the answers to any questions the moderator or Donald Trump might ask. However, she did not seem to be able to think on her feet and respond in real time to some of Donald Trump’s more outrageous tactics. For example, Donald Trump broke the debate rules by interrupting Hillary Clinton frequently during the two minutes that she had to answer the moderator’s questions before the matter was opened to debate. I would have liked to have heard Hillary Clinton say something to the effect of “Mr. Trump, please show some respect and allow me to speak,” and if he had continued, she could have escalated it to “Please stop trying to bully me. Just because I am a woman doesn’t mean that I’m going to put up with your bad behavior.”
Instead, she acted more like a well-programmed robot as she recited the memorized answers to the moderator’s questions. However, she did succeed in getting under Donald Trump’s skin and causing him to lose his composure on several occasions. I think she could have triggered his triads more frequently had she been better able to react quickly.
My standards for Donald Trump were much lower, and he more or less met them. Yes, he scowled through most of the whole debate, and he showed no respect for his opponent or the moderator, but that is the type of bad behavior that one expects from Mr. Trump. His answers to questions consisted almost entirely of generalities with almost no detail, and he had an aura of exhaustion and anger.
I found it interesting that toward the end of the debate, Donald Trump questioned Hillary Clinton’s stamina. After 90 minutes of debating, she looked fresh as a daisy and he looked exhausted, but as I wrote above, he didn’t look too healthy when the debate began.
It will be interesting to see if there is any change in the polls a week from now. Much of what Donald Trump said was untrue, and he displayed a typical Trumpian disrespect for the process, but that is just the type of behavior that Trump’s supporters admire in him. They are not about to abandon him just because of one more demonstration that the guy is a jerk and most of what he says is untrue.
In conclusion, I don’t think that the debate changed many minds. I think that those who backed one or the other of the two candidates before the debate still back the same candidate. Nothing that took place during the debate was dramatic enough to change opinions. However, as I wrote above, we will have to wait for new polls before we know if the debate moved the numbers. The polls may prove me wrong.