Word in Edgewise: Debate Recap

Alex Hahn, Writer

The common denominator of good presidents is one of two things: eloquence or vision. These ooze from their speeches and show in their debates, but these two things that can be universally praised are two of the things the current candidates lack. While eloquence can be lived without, vision is a necessity.

Yet, that necessity was absent last night. For over 90 minutes in the first presidential debate, Trump and Clinton spoke without saying anything that mattered. Each elaborated on their view of each other and the nation, however neither clarified their plans to improve the country. Neither gave their vision.

When asked directly about their big promises each dodged. When asked how he would bring jobs back, Trump attacked the Democrats’ record and said a good place to start would be stopping jobs from leaving.

Clinton did a better job sticking to the issues and her message, but the former secretary of state was hesitant to discuss cyber security, switching to ISIS. She did actually answer many of the questions posed. However, talking to the moderator and convincingly arguing her plans for the nation are two different things.

Looking at the debate, there was little talk of the future and next to no exchange of ideas. Trump touted birtherism as a service to the president, criticized Bill Clinton’s record and accused Hillary Clinton of spending 30 years in politics while getting nothing done.

Clinton dragged up racial discrimination lawsuits against Trump, called his economic plan “Trumped Up Trickle Down”, and cited his claim that global warming was a Chinese hoax, all while attacking his corporate accolades.

No one on that stage gave the nation a strong sense of where they wanted to steer the country, and in a world as precarious as ours, that lack of vision presents a real danger.

When both candidates turn a conversation from race relations to gun control, and pivot from cyber-security to ISIS, it shows a hesitancy to address difficult issues, issues that matter.

Graded on substance, this was a waste of time. Clinton did her best to make it worthwhile, but even she failed to talk seriously about serious issues. She slunk down to one-liners and passing quips faster than Trump did. Yet, even with that, she still came off as better prepared.

However, graded on style, Trump lost even more. While he was toned down, Clinton successfully baited him into attacking, interrupting and talking over her. Trump did his best to be presidential, but he just fell short of that goal.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Oracle, Columbus East High School, and Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation.