Richard Wolffe: ‘The nicest thing you could say about Trump’s performance was that it was bonkers’
That banging sound you heard were the last nails being hammered into the coffin of the Trump campaign. Or it might have been the thumping of Donald Trump as he stalked the debate stage.
Either way, the Republican nominee treated the notion of a contrite, humble performance with all the subtlety of a subway train. Not for him was the usual shame we associate with someone caught in a moment of sleaze.
He prowled around Hillary Clinton, looming behind her when she approached the undecided voters in the audience. He hugged himself and hooked his hands in his belt. He inhaled so sharply through his nose that he sounded like he was snorting his own insults.
Wounded animals behave in strange ways, and Donald Trump was nothing if not strange at the second presidential debate. He went far beyond barking his usual interruptions and conspiracies from the darkest corners of the internet: he answered a question from a Muslim voter by saying it was “a shame” there was Islamophobia. Then, two feet away from his questioner, he stoked Islamophobia as much as he possibly could: “We could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.”
He blamed Hillary Clinton for allowing him to pay no taxes. “Of course I do,” he admitted, when asked if he took advantage of tax loopholes. “So do all of her donors or most of her donors.”
He blamed both Clintons for raising the issue of sexual assault, as if he was just a hapless victim. “I think it’s disgraceful and I think she should be ashamed of herself, if you want to know the truth,” he said.
In any normal presidential debate, a nominee would be embarrassed to say something that evoked Gerald Ford’s calamitous assertion that there was no Soviet domination of eastern Europe. But Trump bettered Ford by several thermonuclear warheads: “I know about Russia but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia,” he said.
The nicest thing you could say about Trump’s performance was that it was bonkers. A Red Bull display of sheer madness all the way to the end, when Clinton complimented his children.
“I don’t know if it was meant to be a compliment,” he said. Donald Trump knows about elections but he knows nothing about their inner workings.