Presidential debates: Hillary has an edge but irrationality rules

Hillary Clinton maintained her cool, only showing a little impatience at times, during the grilling by Republican Congressmen at the 11 hour long congressional hearing on Benghazi

The US democratic machinery entered the home stretch for the Presidential elections slated for November 8 with the two leading candidates ending the three-phase debate on Wednesday, October 19.

The third debate was also replete with the by-now-familiar routine of name calling, innuendoes and interruptions. The experienced Hillary Clinton has emerged as more rationale and logical but in the universe of wisecracks and smart comebacks, Donald Trump kept his supporters interested in his prospects with a series of non-sequiturs laced with caustic personal comments. Opinion polls give Hillary a decisive lead but given his numerous comebacks despite being repeatedly cornered, Trump remains in the hunt.

The three general Presidential debates have failed to throw up a winner. The saving grace of the third debate held in the fun city of Los Angeles was its intermittent focus on substantive policy issues. For once, both candidates engaged with each other on immigration, gun control, national debt and abortion. The unpredictable, spontaneous and boorish Trump along with the suave, rehearsed, hard-as-nails Hillary have ensured an audience comeback for the Presidential debates. In the earlier two debates, the audience was none the wiser about the candidates’ ability to govern. Los Angeles was no exception though the New York and Washington debates left an even more bitter after-taste.

The third debate will be remembered for Trump’s “nasty woman” broadside against Hillary and his use of the term “bad Hombres”. This was a continuation of the previous two contests. All that remained in the end was bitter name calling. These have been poor advertisements for Brand US Democracy. Washington’s attempts to foist their version of democracy on Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya have spectacularly failed. The preponderance of personal showdowns in the debates suggests it is not much to talk about at home as well. The level is unlikely to get better as three weeks of take-no-prisoners style of campaigning lies ahead. More bitterness is in store as debates have exposed skeletons in the closet of both candidates. A cherished tradition since 1960, the debates have now become part of the US TV’s entertainment fixtures. It now needs a recast.

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