Did you watch the debate on Monday night? Were you one of the more than 80 million Americans who tuned in? I was. I can’t resist a good political trainwreck.
What were your thoughts? Who won? Who lost? Did it impact your perspective of either candidate? Did it change your mind on who your voting for come November?
My thoughts? I thought both candidates struggled. Clinton looked as if she was “short-circuiting” while trying to deliver her canned responses, especially at the outset of the debate. Every time she brought up some personal anecdote, “Today is my granddaughter’s second birthday,” or that story about her father the “small businessman” who worked “really hard” printing “drapery fabrics” it came across as forced and inauthentic as if she was desperately trying to recall the script she was given by her handlers during debate prep.
I mean, you know leading up to Monday night her people told her that she needed to work on “connecting with voters” and “humanizing her image.” See, the Clinton camp was hoping that by highlighting the fact that she is a grandmother and the daughter of a blue-collar tradesman we’ll forget that she is now a privileged, wall-street connected, political elitist. That’s a tough image to shatter. And, ironically, every time she tries to break that image and “connect” with the American voter — whether it’s with her cackle of a laugh, her awkward sneering, or a rehearsed aside about her upbringing — it only affirms what we already know, she’s a complete phony. She doesn’t give a rats a** about the working man!
If Clinton was over-prepared and over-rehearsed, Trump was the opposite. Under-prepared and too fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants. And it showed. Trump relied too much on rhetoric from his stump speeches. You know, the whole bit about how “we don’t win anymore,” how “we’re losing to China and Mexico” and, how things are “very, very bad,” and how we make “horrible deals,” etc. In doing so, he missed out on some real opportunities to counter punch Clinton and really bring the fight to the former Secretary of State.
A perfect example is the issue of cybersecurity. That question was teed up perfectly for Trump. Instead of repeatedly crushing Hillary on her decision to imperil national security by using a private email server that was reportedly easier to hack into than Yahoo, Trump briefly mentioned the DNC hack and subsequent scandal maligning Bernie Sanders before prattling himself into this gem of a non-sequitur.
“So we had to get very very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is a huge problem,” said Trump. “I have a son — he’s ten years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers. It’s unbelievable.”
What the heck? If Trump wants to win this election, he has to be better than that. He has to go on offense and really exploit Hillary’s vulnerabilities. She opened her response to this question by saying, “Well, I think cyber security, cyber warfare, will be one of the biggest challenges facing the next president because…”
Trump should’ve pounced on that comment, saying something along the lines of “When it comes to cybersecurity, Secretary Clinton went rogue while serving in the Obama administration. She used a private email server that was hacked. Her actions were not only unlawful, but they imperiled national security and endangered the lives of millions of Americans. Given her horrible track record on this issue, how can anyone expect Secretary Clinton to do right by the American people?”
That would’ve put Clinton on the defensive. In any event, while Trump’s lackluster performance bothered me, what irked me, even more, was his endorsement of No-Fly, No-Buy legislation during a brief exchange on gun control.
After arguing for universal background checks, bans on “military-style” weapons, Clinton said that we “need to pass a prohibition on anyone who is on the terrorist watch list from being able to buy a gun in our country. If you are too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to buy a gun.”
In a perplexing response, Trump neither pushed back on Clinton’s call for universal background checks nor a black rifle ban, but instead agreed with her that No-Fly, No-Buy legislation is the way to go.
“First of all, I agree and a lot of people even within my own party want to give certain rights to people on watch lists and no-fly lists,” said Trump. “I agree with you when a person is on a watch list or a no-fly list, and I have the endorsement of the NRA which I’m very proud of…”
For the record, both Democrats and Republicans proposed No-Fly, No-Buy legislation this year. But neither bill cleared Congress. Similar in scope, both bills sought to do the same thing, keep those on government watchlists from purchasing firearms. In the past, I’ve gone into great detail explaining why No-Fly, No Buy legislation is a bad idea. In a nutshell, it’s unconstitutional.
Beyond that, government watchlists make no logical sense. In other words, they’re unnecessary. If one is a terrorist, arrest him! Put him in jail. Problem solved! If there are evidentiary reasons to suspect one is a terrorist and yet not enough hard evidence to prosecute him in court, well, get a warrant and continue to surveil him until there is enough to put him behind bars. That’s the way our legal system has always worked, whether it pertained to mobsters or terrorists, the government has its hands tied until it can prove in a court of law that an individual is, indeed, a law-breaker.
Only recently have we given the government, which has ballooned in size (DHS, NSA, FBI, CIA, etc.) in the past decade, the power to start creating these secret lists that deprive individuals of certain privileges (flying) without due process and without their knowledge. That’s right, there’s no way to know whether you’re on the list until you attempt to fly. Moreover, getting off the list is an involved process that can take months! But now the government wants to start taking away fundamental rights without giving one his or her day in court. This is wrong. This is unAmerican. This is priming the pumps for an Orwellian future. Yet, sadly, both candidates for president emphatically support enacting such nonsense. So, yes, while both Trump and Hillary struggled on Monday night, the Second Amendment was the big loser.