Everything Worth Seeing From Last Night's Unhinged Presidential Debate

Illustration for article titled Everything Worth Seeing From Last Night's Unhinged Presidential Debate

On Monday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met onstage at Hofstra University to debate the important issues of this election: ISIS, Trump’s tax returns and Clinton’s emails, and whether or not Rosie O’Donnell deserved to be called a fat pig. It was a sniffling mess of a night, and there are still two debates to go.


An initial observation of evening revealed a health-related fact neither candidate could deny: Donald Trump’s nasal passages were inflamed by... something.

Howard Dean suggests it might have been cocaine, which would explain Trump’s twitchy, fidgety demeanor and constant water drinking—ironic, considering his mockery of now-fellow sipper Marco Rubio—but there are other explanations too.

The first real conflict of the evening came up as the candidates discussed two things they didn’t want to discuss; Trump’s initial $14 million investment from his father, his still-unreleased tax returns and Hillary Clinton’s still-deleted emails. Both candidates stuck to their usual responses, but moderator Lester Holt pressed Trump on his returns, saying there was no rule preventing him from releasing his them just because they’re under audit. Trump seemed to agree, saying he would also release them if Clinton released her deleted emails.

“So it’s negotiable?” Holt asked.

“No,” Trump said.

Trump also seemed to admit he hasn’t been paying federal income taxes, telling Clinton that not paying them on the few tax returns of his that have been made public, “makes me smart.” When she accused him again of not paying them at all, he argued they would only be “squandered” by politicians like Clinton if he had.

While Trump ignored the rules of the debate to repeatedly cut in on Clinton, Clinton seemed unwilling to react to him and stuck to her talking points, a criticism she acknowledged with a similarly canned line.


“I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing,” she said to the sound of audience applause, which was a violation of debate rules that still occurred in support of both candidates throughout the night.

Asked about his early support of the Iraq war, Trump gave this loony tunes answer, which started out as a fact check and ended with him talking over Holt while bragging that his strongest asset is his temperament.

In between, there were plenty of other terrible moments. Trump adamantly denied that stop and frisk was declared unconstitutional, boasted about the cyber prowess of his ten-year-old son, and Clinton plugged her book, available at “bookstores and airports.”


Which is not to say there weren’t also any great moments from last night:

Former Gawker news editor


I’m still stunned from the moment Trump doubled down on the concept of turning our armed forces into global mercenaries “we defend them? Let them pay for it” to the point that Hillary felt the need to turn to the camera and reassure other countries that no, contrary to what Orange Cheeto just said, the US will uphold treaties and that the country’s word is good.

He’s absolutely unhinged. While it did give Hillary a gorgeous opportunity to act presidential and literally mend some international fences in the middle of the debate, essentially cleaning up the piddle puddle Trump had just left on the carpet, she shouldn’t have had to.

I had to pick my jaw up off the floor after that moment. I still can’t believe he actually went there, all proud of his stunning lack of intellectual prowess.

That and the “I don’t know very much about NATO” comment. IT’S YOUR JOB TO KNOW ABOUT NATO AT THIS POINT, YOU TOOL.