The ISIS Presidential Debate

One would think that given all of the mentions of ISIS during the second presidential debate that it was 911 all over again or something. Both candidates invoked the specter of ISIS to exculpate themselves from difficult questions.

From the transcript:

TRUMP: No, I didn’t say that at all. I don’t think you understood what was — this was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk.

You know, when we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have — and, frankly, drowning people in steel cages, where you have wars and horrible, horrible sights all over, where you have so many bad things happening, this is like medieval times. We haven’t seen anything like this, the carnage all over the world.

And they look and they see. Can you imagine the people that are, frankly, doing so well against us with ISIS? And they look at our country and they see what’s going on.

Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker room talk, and it’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We’re going to defeat ISIS. ISIS happened a number of years ago in a vacuum that was left because of bad judgment. And I will tell you, I will take care of ISIS.

If he didn’t want to answer the question, he didn’t have to answer the question. There is no rule that says he must answer a follow-up question, but perhaps silence is perceived as weakness. But trying to evade the question by bringing up ISIS (especially so abruptly and without a good segue ) is a painfully obvious attempt at diversion. What Trump should have done is reiterate his apology one more time and just leave it at that, and refuse to answer any follow-up questions.

Both candidates disavow support of the Iraq war, yet this Isis rhetoric is what leads to permanent wars in the first place – it’s just that the country and people change.

Fortunately, Trump quickly recovered from his initial weakness and knocked out some home runs. The highlight of the debate was Trump intimating that he would try to have Clinton prosecuted, specifically for her illegally deleting thousands of emails after receiving a federal subpoena. Although public speaking experts recommend enunciation and varying speaking speed, the monotone of Trump’s voice and uninterrupted delivery packed in his two-minute condemnation against Clinton made his message powerful and threatening, almost like he was The Terminator coming after her.

But when you talk about apology, I think the one that you should really be apologizing for and the thing that you should be apologizing for are the 33,000 e-mails that you deleted, and that you acid washed, and then the two boxes of e-mails and other things last week that were taken from an office and are now missing.

And this part, where Trump demolishes Clinton for comparing herself to Lincoln:

TRUMP: Well, I think I should respond, because — so ridiculous. Look, now she’s blaming — she got caught in a total lie. Her papers went out to all her friends at the banks, Goldman Sachs and everybody else, and she said things — WikiLeaks that just came out. And she lied. Now she’s blaming the lie on the late, great Abraham Lincoln. That’s one that I haven’t…

OK, Honest Abe, Honest Abe never lied. That’s the good thing. That’s the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you. That’s a big, big difference. We’re talking about some difference.

Senator, you’re no Abe Lincoln.

Hillary’s answer was so convoluted, it was obvious she was flailing.