Both candidates had goals both met them. Trump's primary goal was to not look like the raving loon that the Establishment Media has been painting him as and really that was it.
Given his performances from the primaries and Hillary's past performances both did about as well as I was expecting.
Sure a blow out would have been nice but it wasn't going to happen. A debate format is a chump's game that all GOP candidates are apparently required to play.
This is ACE's wrap up:
Trump did not attack Hillary very effectively. She had her attack lines memorized. He was improvising his from memories. I suspect he might bother studying for the next one. Because she pissed him off.
Hillary dinged Trump up a fair amount. However, some people view these debates and their candidates like a new car -- ever fearful of the smallest ding.
Look, have you ever had a car that didn't get a ding?
The idea that a candidate has to come through a debate without having had a glove laid on him to win is simply wrong. Its an idea borne of a lack of perspective -- people get so emotionally invested in a win that every single error seems unbearable.
Trump made lots of errors -- I can't believe he brought up taking the oil again, for example -- but Hillary's goal here was to disqualify him.
What did she do? She painted him like every other Republican gets painted in a debate. She did not succeed in extraordinizing him -- making him an extraordinary threat the Republican can not bear.
By repeating the same sorts of attacks lodged at every Republican -- wants to cut taxes, "racist," etc. -- she actually ordinized him.
Trump's demeanor was generally strong and calm. He got rattled a few times. He looked pissy when she was dropping her programmed attack modules on him.
But by and large, he kept it together.
Was he good? No. He wasn't sharp. I know people's jaws were falling open when Trump failed to pounce on her for daring to bring up emails, disclosures, and cybersecurity.
He was meh.
Hillary delivered the exact same message that all of her ads are playing around the clock.The viewer really got no new information on that front.
On the other hand, Trump stood up at the podium and kept to his basic message without melting down. (Well, except that "take their oil" like.)
Her goal was to disqualify him; his goal was to seem like an ordinary Republican. Or, at least, ordinary enough to not seem scary (while attempting to seem like a big change agent).
Neither did a very good job. But Trump did a slightly better job at is job than she did at hers.
The one good thing -- I hope -- is that sometimes Trump has to get his ass kicked a little before he starts listening to other people. He didn't get whooped by Hillary, but she did make him angry.
Maybe that will animate him to study up and make himself prepared to deliver crisp attack lines.
By the way: Lester Holt directed every single hostile question towards Trump, and purported to "fact check" him every five minutes.
I get the feeling the Trump and Clinton camps must be thinking the same thing: So many wasted opportunities.
Trump's schtick worked better in the multi candidate debates during the primaries, where the questions were spread around enough that his lack of preparation didn't show so much. Clinton was able to come on strong in the final third, which is a travesty because she won on foreign policy -- her Achilles heel!
People who stuck around for only the first half probably thought Trump was the winner. If you stuck around for the entire thing, you're more likely to call it a draw or a Clinton win. Clinton will undoubtedly come out head in the extended analysis later in the week, but sane people -- i.e., people not writing or talking about politics for a living -- don't care about that.
So my second final thought is that nobody scored any knockout blows, so just expect the expected people to say all the expected things tonight and tomorrow.
My final thought is this.
If you were frustrated by Romney and McCain failing to take the fight to Obama in their debates, you should be almost as frustrated by how Trump tried but all-too-often failed to take the fight to Clinton tonight. A little debate prep would have served him well.