In last night’s Las Vegas presidential debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump paid a silent but nonetheless efficacious tribute to the man who built, enriched and symbolized this entertainment and gambling Mecca in the Nevada dessert – Frank Sinatra. It was not exactly a ring-a-ding-ding Rat Pack night for Trump, who didn’t quite walk away with the show and dispose of Democrat Hillary Clinton with a few choice barbs. But like the Chairman of the Board who picked himself off the mat so many times to fight back and triumph over whatever trial he was enduring at that moment, from bad publicity to poor record sales, Trump demonstrated the comeback spirit that Old Blue Eyes embodied – luck was a lady to Trump last night.
Sure, a lot of us felt that Trump could have been a notch more assertive and really have put his foot to the pedal when eviscerating a nominee who is perhaps the least qualified candidate for president ever unveiled by a major U.S. party. But I forgot: last night was the more sedate Donald Trump that some in the Republican Party have been trying to summon like a long-lost relative at a séance. Bear in mind that Trump will never appear precisely right for the self-appointed critics who continue to undermine his leadership: too presidential and he lacks enthusiasm; too animated and he is criticized for “stalking” Hillary.
Hillary wasn’t stalked but she certainly appeared scattered at times and seemed to be suffering from severe shock at other key moments, apparently dumbfounded by the impertinence of moderator Chris Wallace’s assured authority and equal-time tough questions. She often looked quizzically over at the confident but respectful Fox News interviewer extraordinaire, apparently in disbelief that the Clinton machine had not been able to buy-off the Wallace in time for the debate. Hillary seemed particularly ruthless when proclaiming her unrepentant support for partial birth abortion, especially when Trump kept reminding her and the viewing audience that the procedure “ripped the baby out of the womb of the mother.”
Harsh language: but that is what “choice” is all about.
In a rare moment of candor, Clinton validated the Podesta e-mail WikiLeaks. When Wallace quoted the section where Clinton exalts the benefits of “a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders,” Hillary noted, “Well, Chris, if you went on to read the rest of the sentence…” Whoops! The official line of neither confirming nor denying was perhaps quite inadvertently transgressed.
At times, Clinton couldn’t find the stop button on her pre-recorded message, sometimes talking over Trump and Wallace to deliver every last syllable of her memorized talking points. But despite knowing her lines, Clinton still doesn’t know why she wants to be president – except to continue spending money in the grandiose Obama tradition on infrastructure projects and other government spending sprees that run the gamut from the boutique to the gargantuan.
For his part, Trump really should read the briefing books with greater care and discernment. He must have known when he raised the e-mail issue that Hillary would run for cover under the Russian hacker umbrella and suggest that Trump was aiding and abetting a dangerous foreign power with overt praise of Vladimir Putin and covert business dealings. However, as we all should know by now, nobody has inserted themselves deeper into the murky, byzantine world of Russian politics and business than Hillary and Bill Clinton. While Secretary of State Clinton gushed about Putin’s keen conversational talents and concern for endangered species, Russia scooped up Uranium One and procured 20 per cent of America’s strategically-vital uranium supply.
And Trump was chastised for muttering about Hillary being a “nasty woman.” Well, given the fact that Clinton never ties of reminding us that she should be president precisely because she is a woman, and considering the undeniable element of nastiness in her pubic and private persona, I can’t really fault him for such an apt description.
Can Trump turn this around with just over two weeks to go? Well to return to our Sinatra metaphor, here’s a line from That’s Life. ‘Each time I find myself, flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race.”
Trump is back, and he’s got the determination and the energy to get to the finish line first.
Follow David on Twitter @DavidKrayden