It wasn't the best of nights for Donald Trump yesterday. His performance in the first presidential debate was spotty at best. So much so the MSNBC crew handling the post game analysis were snaking through the studio in a conga line chanting," HRC! HRC! HRC!" Chris Matthews went so far as to say Hillary Clinton pitched a shutout, as others claimed the Trumpster had been reduced to absolute gibberish.
While Matthews' assessment was a tad gushing and the celebration was dangerously premature, it was clear most people around the country believed Mrs. Clinton had won the match. A CNN poll taken of viewers showed 62% believed the former Secretary of State prevailed, while 27% thought Trump had.
Trump, delusional as always, left the stage convinced he had won. He even showed up in the spin room afterward and said of moderator, Lester Holt, "I thought Lester did a great job." That opinion changed once he realized he and his kids were the only ones around who felt he did the better job. By this morning El Don tweeted, "I thought Lester Holt gave me very unfair questions at the end, but I'm not complaining about that."
Actually, Big Orange Guy, a tweet worded that way is pretty much the definition of a complaint. Holt aside, the real Trumpian wrath was reserved for his microphone. He said the mic worked fine when he initially tested it, but once on stage for the actual debate the volume was too low and it wasn't working properly--there was, according to the candidate, a crackling sound. While claiming not to be into conspiracies, Trump hinted he might have been the victim of some mysterious saboteur.
If that was the case the unknown villain was a lousy one, because on TV, the allegedly rigged microphone worked perfectly during the airing of the debate. All of this led Mrs. Clinton to say, "Anybody who complains about the microphone is not having a good night."
The truth is Trump was Trump. He tried to wing huge parts of the conversation with talking points we've heard time and time again. Only last night he wasn't in the middle of a stage full of wannabes where the camera was off him for long periods. He was stuck on an unflinching split screen for over 90 minutes and by the end he seemed to have wilted.
Indeed, despite his assertion Mrs. Clinton not only doesn't appear presidential, but lacks stamina for the job, he was the one grimacing and compulsively sipping at a glass of water. Not to mention snorting and sniffling so loudly into the reportedly malfunctioning microphone it sounded like he was in the throes of a massive hay fever attack.
Amidst the facial contortions a couple of his talk over moments were steeped in arrogance and complete disdain for the people he says he represents. At one point, while speculating why Trump won't release his tax returns, Clinton noted years ago when he had to make them public in order to get a gaming license they showed he paid no federal taxes at all. He interrupted her by saying, "That makes me smart."
When she noted he profited from the housing bubble collapse, which cost thousands of people their homes he said, "It's business."
Ah yes, quite a man of the common people.
The next stop is St. Louis. There is no doubt Trump will alter his presentation, despite saying last night he wouldn't. He simply has to. He might not have suffered a knock out punch at Hofstra, but he clearly lost the round. His lack of preparation and organization, plus the practice of talking over the top of everyone, including the moderator, just didn't play like it has in the past.
There is no telling if Mrs. Clinton will get a bump in the polls because of last night. Normally it could be assumed she would, but this is anything, but a normal election. No matter what the polls say in the next couple of days she still must remain careful, yet aggressive.
Let's face it, after the first debate four years ago, Barack Obama looked to be on the ropes, but he came back and crushed Mitt Romney in later ones and was re-elected.
No, it doesn't matter how many people Chris Matthews high fives over the next few days. The reality is this thing isn't over and, for many of us, it remains far too close for comfort.
sic vita est