As I see no easy way how they can both lose, the outcome was bound to be a disappointment either way. With that, I’ll say this debate goes to Clinton.
Utter lack of substance, but at least with all the negativity it was less boring than the primary debates. Watched it on the laptop at the kitchen table, was snacking in the beginning and forgot to get up and move to the couch. Though, I have to say, watching it involved lots of cringing.
Especially on the section about race. Neither Trump nor Clinton had the guts to openly condemn the pattern of police shootings of minorities. Trump went right for the “law and order” thing, and Clinton leaned towards joining him. And then, as if catching herself – Can’t believe Clinton had the guts to say this – she was lamenting unequal treatment for the same crimes, e.g., incarceration for crack vs cocaine in the 1990s- something that was a direct effect of Bill’s policies, which she supported. Trump fumbled that one, mentioned superpredators but didn’t follow through. But of course he gets exactly zero points on race, a topic that completely disqualifies him.
Clinton maintained her composure better for sure, though she spent a lot of time hiding behind a painfully fake looking defensive smile, which was occasionally alternated with the condescending smile. The one flash of unguarded discomfort I saw in Clinton was right in the end, when she got a cheer from the crowd for something, then Trump quipped something about “lets not have 4 more years of her” and the crowd cheered just as much. You could see her kindof swallow down the look of surprise in a split second and get it together.
Trump was visibly on edge – he was eating a lot of his words from the past, and it did not look good. Doesn’t think on his feet as well as Clinton, who is proving to be a surprisingly capable bullshitter when it comes to deflecting criticism.
Clinton said plenty of boneheaded things (e.g., as an example of her stamina, her time testifying in front of Congress… why would she be proud of that??). But what I was really hoping to see was some more focused criticism of Clinton’s pro-war record, in particular Libya, which is what completely disqualifies her from being president. Trump instead mostly went to his wishy-washy extreme simplistic mode without any real focus or details. For example, that her experience is “bad experience”, which is exactly right but…. ugh! Zero detail. There’s so much meat there, Trump barely touched it. Maybe he’s going for the dumb guy pity vote, which actually worked for Bush II vs Gore, but I don’t see Trump in that mold.