On the EDge: The debate was all it was hyped up to be

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shake hands during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016 | AP Photo/David Goldman, St. George News

OPINION – The first of three presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was billed as one of the greatest rumbles in the history of politics.

It didn’t disappoint.

In sports terms, it was Ali vs. Frazier, the Red Sox vs. Yankees, the Lakers vs. Celtics.

People watch live broadcasting of the U.S. presidential debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, at the American Club Hong Kong, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 | AP Photo/Kin Cheung, St. George News
People watch live broadcasting of the U.S. presidential debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, at the American Club Hong Kong, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 | AP Photo/Kin Cheung, St. George News

That doesn’t mean it was filled with pearls of wonkish wisdom. It wasn’t by any means, particularly if you were looking for specifics from the Republican contender.

In that regard, it was, as one Twitter poster put it, “a debate between a politician and your drunken uncle’s Facebook page.”

The lines were drawn early.

Hillary Clinton came out swinging a heavy bat for the middle class, endorsing tax cuts for them and the poor and tax hikes for the rich.

Donald Trump broke from the gate espousing his trickle-down economics theories, based solidly on the policies of Ronald Reagan.

It was a night of broad themes and generalities from Trump, specifics and details from Clinton.

That was expected.

This was not a debate for the feint of heart.

It was rough and tumble with Trump interrupting Clinton 46 times, Clinton delivering sharp one-liners to counter his attacks and moderator Lester Holt being shouted down more than a handful of times by Trump.

If it was a boxing match, you’d have to score it 4 rounds for Clinton, two for Trump.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump answers a question as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016 | AP Photo/David Goldman, St. George News

There were some very healthy exchanges.

He criticized her for disappearing as she prepared for the debates.

She responded that she was also preparing to be president.

She nailed him on climate change.

He flat-out lied.

She went after him on his business practices.

“I take advantage of the laws of the nation,” he said.

Trump didn’t know how to handle it when he landed his heaviest punch, going after Clinton about her email investigation. But instead of driving it home, he immediately lost any momentum he created by launching into a monologue about his personal wealth.

Trump was clearly out of his element.

Clinton controlled the debate, scored heavily and repeatedly and drew the strongest response from an audience that was admonished to withhold applause and outbursts.

Both Clinton and Trump looked awkward when the topic turned to racial matters.

But, honestly, don’t two very rich, very white politicians always look awkward when trying to discuss or relate to the issues faced by minority America?

The biggest problems with the Trump campaign resurfaced Monday night and that is his lack of focus and understanding of what is at hand.

Through most of the debate he targeted his comments at Barack Obama instead of Clinton.

Trump’s volatile side also surfaced a number of times when Clinton found exactly the right buttons to push.

But his biggest flaw was that it was painfully obvious he did little preparation for the debate.

Clinton entered the debate with the baggage of being highly unlikable.

At times, she did seem a bit stiff, but that is to be expected in such debates, especially when dealing with complex issues like the economy. Boring stuff, difficult to follow, but necessary in a presidential debate.

What is important in these debates is for the candidate to understand that voters are more interested in what you will do for the country, which means your answers need to be offered from a much different perspective and with greater purpose than to underscore your personal business successes. Trump made it all personal, from defending his refusal to release his tax returns to complaining about the negative ads being run against him.

Clinton came off very polished, which is not necessarily a good thing in this election year when many voters are looking for an anti-politician.

She is clearly well schooled in the political game, with an aggressive, go-for-the-jugular staff. She can eviscerate an opponent with a flash of her cunning and slice them up with ferocity. There were several times she could have done so Monday night, but she restrained herself, keeping the switchblade in her boot because she knows there are two more debates to go. I expect her to sharpen her attack in subsequent debates.

I am still not convinced that this is the best we could muster this election cycle. I look at Trump and Clinton and see two very out of touch rich people spitting each other in the eye. Neither has come up from the street, neither has scrambled, worried about paying the rent, been concerned about work furloughs or layoffs or faced the inequities of the poor, disadvantaged or minority segments of our nation.

There was no passion in their remarks, no great attempts at statesmanship, honor or compassion. There was no soul.

It reeked of a hollowness, of two empty shells intent on obliterating each other instead of offering solutions to make us healthier, more economically sound, more secure.

Instead, we got a battle, a personal grudge match, which is well-suited to the WWE, but not so much for presidential politics.

My takeaway from Monday night’s debate?

Hillary Clinton was clearly the winner, by any measure.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016 | Photo by Joe Raedle/Pool via AP; St. George News
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016 | Photo by Joe Raedle/Pool via AP; St. George News

She was quick, she was pointed, she was decisive, she was on-message, she came off as more presidential.

He was scattered, unfocused, easily pushed to volatility and vague.

Did the debate live up to all the hype?


It is clear that these two people neither like nor respect each other, which is a danger to both. The most important rule of politics? Never underestimate your opponent.

Sadly, the most disappointing aspect of this debate is the feeling that there is a cataclysmic disconnect between both candidates and the people they hope to represent.

Neither can relate to our struggle, neither can understand our concerns.

This is a race for power, prestige; a race to feed the ego.

We are lost in all of this. We are inconsequential because at the end of the day, win, lose or draw, they will go home to their mansions and slip themselves between silk sheets while we huddle beneath our wooly blankets.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • Real Life September 27, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Clinton clearly won this debate, according to Ed. Well there’s a big shocker. You have made it very well known that your hatred for Trump runs deep, and your subjective writing wreaks of it.

    • Chris September 27, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      “wreaks of it”?? Well, at least it doesn’t reek of it. English your first language?

      • Real Life September 28, 2016 at 8:12 am

        Thank you Copernicus.

      • .... September 28, 2016 at 10:31 am

        Careful Chris Real Life likes to dish it out but gets upset when it gets thrown back at him

        • Real Life September 28, 2016 at 12:25 pm

          Pot, meet kettle.

          • .... September 28, 2016 at 8:05 pm

            Awwww poor little thing. he’s upset. LOL !

  • .... September 27, 2016 at 8:31 am

    What debate ? Oh you mean the Howdy Doody show that was on the comedy channel last night starring Chip and Dale discuss who was the biggest nut ? I missed it. I watched a PBS program about the mating habits of the northern Bolivian swamp slug.

  • Robert September 27, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Ed, in your closing of your piece you state that Hillary Clinton doesn’t know (or seem to care) about minorities or the poor, and maybe most people look at her up on stage and think the same but you should know better.
    With even a cursory look at her life anyone will see that, though she was from a conservative Republican family, from her early teens she’s fought against voter fraud, protested against the Viet Nam War, worked to bring more black students and teachers into the college she attended. Then, while working at the Republican National Convention, she saw party politics from up close and its sometimes dirty insides. Not liking what she saw she left the Republican Party behind. Later she was given a long standing ovation after giving a speech at her college’s graduation ceremonty, and she was the first student ever allowed to give a speech at the school’s commencement. That speech was so impressive it prompted an article about it in Life Magazine.

    Since then, like a lot of students at the time, she’s worked entry level jobs, washing dishes, even worked on the line in a fish processing plant.

    Her hard studies, top grades, and work in the student government got her into Yale Law School, where again she excelled against some of the brightest minds in the country. While there she volunteered legal services to the poor, took on cases of child abuse and more.

    Her whole life has been spent working to better the lives of the poor and minorities. You don’t do that by sitting in a fancy office, you do that standing side by side with the people you’re trying to help.

    I’m not some Hillary fan boy. To be honest when she’s up behind a podium she comes off as cold and distant, but I encourage you to watch videos of her moments behind the scenes where she’s more herself and I see someone much more warm-hearted, enough so that I’ll stop after reading a biased Op-Ed piece and support her.

    • ThatNewGuy September 28, 2016 at 9:30 am

      So, she saw party politics and the “dirty insides” in the RNC, then worked hard to bring corruption into the DNC? Then, after DWS’s corruption as the DNC chair is revealed, and she’s forced to step down, Hillary rewards her with a position on her campaign.

  • ladybugavenger September 27, 2016 at 10:47 am

    I don’t care about trumps bankruptcies, (he just proves he knows how to rebuild), I don’t care about the loan his father gave him in 1975 (my Lord that was 41 years ago) or that he hasn’t owed federal taxes (That’s smart, shoot I haven’t paid federal taxes ever, not because I’m rich but because I’m poor….thats smart for me) Trump for President!!!

    • Chris September 27, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      You are the typical Trump supporter–poor, uneducated and stupid.

      • .... September 28, 2016 at 10:33 am

        Chris I have the same opinion of people that support Hillary. !

      • ladybugavenger September 28, 2016 at 12:01 pm

        Wow! You are not a nice person.

      • ladybugavenger September 28, 2016 at 12:07 pm

        What I have you can’t but with money. So yes, I went to college and never used my degree. I prefer a simple life over being an a$$ like you are being right now Chris. I got my #fundraiser (Some might call it an inheritance) My house i have i paid cash for. I demo’d my kitchen with my own 2 hands. Yes money can buy these things but it can’t but not and love, and happiness and kindness. Have a blessed day Hillary, I mean Chris.

        • ladybugavenger September 28, 2016 at 2:04 pm

          *money can’t buy joy, love, kindness, and it can’t buy having fun in all things. Don’t be mean to me Chris. You are Mormon, right?

          • Bob September 28, 2016 at 9:41 pm

            this is the same chris that has little hissy fits whenever i talk about zionists, lol. i wouldn’t worry about it…

          • RealMcCoy September 30, 2016 at 12:35 pm

            Just remember- Chris is a liberal dem; the same group that demands tolerance and acceptance, right up until you disagree with them. Then you’re ‘poor, uneducated and stupid.’
            However, and simple fact check will show that the majority of Clinton supporters are:
            Naive to her actual policies.
            Just look at the volumes of interviews with hillary supporters that are asked about her policies.
            Asked what they think about a series of hillary’s policies, they wholeheartedly agree with them, however, they are actually Trump policies, but the idiots are told they belong to hillary.
            When asked about a series of Trump policies, they are wholeheartedly against them (again, these are actually hillary policies.)
            When they are told the truth about who’s policies are whose, they then state, “I don’t care, I’m still voting for hillary.”
            They have no idea what she stands for, but will vote for her because she is A: democrat or B: a woman.


            Ed lives in a fantasy world where hillary reigns as a goddess and her NUMEROUS lies and deceits are inconsequential due to his blind hatred of Trump and all things conservative. His ‘opinion’ columns are more biased than CNN, but it’s getting to be a close call now.

  • ladybugavenger September 28, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Chris must be Mormon

  • .... September 29, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Ladybug. ..yep he is

  • aviatormh September 29, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    She lied to Congress that’s not in question. She lied to the American public that’s not in question. She lied about everything and tried to cover it up. That’s not in question. So how can you ignore what she did and still vote for her? Every time she opens her mouth she lies. If you still vote for her even though she lies to you every time she speaks then you must surely be a moron. A vote for Hillary is a vote for antiamerican crush the Constitution dictatorship.

    • RealMcCoy September 30, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Have you read Ed’s drivel? Yes, he is a moron. That’s not in question.

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