Trump’s bizarrely bad debate performance does not disturb his fans

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(David Horsey / Los Angeles Times)

In an interview on NBC News, a young millennial woman gave her assessment of the first presidential debate of 2016: Hillary Clinton seemed overly scripted while Donald Trump looked strong and passionate.

So much for the unanimous mainstream media verdict that a well-prepared Clinton crushed a poorly-prepped Trump in their first face-to-face contest. By any standard measure, she did, of course, but to that young woman and the rest of those enthused by Trump, facts do not matter, being well-versed in economic complexities and foreign policy does not matter, being “presidential” in the traditional sense does not matter. All that matters is that, in the debate, Trump channeled their ignorant, peeved, angry petulance and directed it at a woman they loathe.

Pointing out that 90% of the things Trump said during the 90-minute debate were demonstrably false, misguided or just plain dumb is an exercise in futility. Reasoning with the Trumplings is a waste of words. Nevertheless, I’ll waste a few hundred on a short list of Trump evasions and delusions from the debate:


— Trump claimed he got Barack Obama to show his birth certificate and stopped questioning the president’s citizenship long ago. Both assertions are lies and evade the question of why the nation’s first black commander in chief should be forced to “show his papers.”

— He claimed there is no proof the Russians are responsible for recent cyberattacks and that it might just as easily be some 400-pound guy sitting on a couch. Uh, no, Donald — not unless the 400-pound fellow is a Russian hacker.

— Trump reiterated his constant excuse for refusing to show his income tax returns, insisting an IRS audit prevents it. Actually, that is not the case. He could do it anytime he wants, just as presidential candidates have done for decades.

— When Clinton pointed out that the two years of Trump’s tax returns that are available show he paid zero taxes, Trump, far from being embarrassed, said skipping out on his share of taxes “makes me smart!”


— When Clinton noted that Trump eagerly took advantage of the 2008 housing crisis that devastated so many average Americans, he interjected, “That’s called business.”

— African American and Latino communities are in a living hell, Trump said. This is a simplistic stereotype and follows on his previous assertion that things have never been worse for blacks in America. Really? Ever heard of something called slavery? Jim Crow? When asked what he would do to improve the situation of black Americans, his prescription was “law and order.”

— Trump said the murder rate in New York City has shot up since the policy of “stop and frisk” was found unconstitutional by the courts. Wrong; it has gone down.

— He essentially said U.S. allies need to pay protection money to the U.S. or else they will be left to fend for themselves, as if Americans get no benefit from global alliances that maintain stability and peace.


— Trump denied that he said climate change is a hoax perpetrated to benefit the Chinese. He did say it and apparently believes it, just as he subscribes to an array of other conspiracy theories that pass through his Twitter account.

— Weirdly, Trump said Hillary Clinton has been fighting ISIS her whole adult life. Not true, unless Clinton only became an adult 12 years ago.

There is much more, but among the 84 million people who watched the debate, a frighteningly high percentage cheered his grunting and sighing and interruptions and general boorishness and do not give a damn about his mendacity or childish level of understanding about world affairs and economics. As Abraham Lincoln said, you can fool some of the people all of the time — and it’s especially easy when they want to be fooled.


Follow me at @davidhorsey on Twitter