TAKING A BIG BREATH

Not because the first debate is over.

We watched on CSPAN so that all signals and images were unfiltered by others, uncorrupted by punditry and comment.  A little time for us three to get to know each other without guidelines and promises, failed or fulfilled.

It appeared, at the beginning of the debate, that the Donald had his act together.   And he did, for about twenty-five minutes.  We were worried and impressed, and not a little grateful for Lester Holt who kept burrowing.

For the first few minutes, we got what we expected: Hillary prepared and articulate, Donald blustery but controlled.

But eventually, for a man who complains his opponents haven’t the requisite stamina for the job at hand, Donald faded.   And as he weakened, Mrs. Clinton became stronger, more confident

By the beginning of the third period, Mr. Trump was beginning to reel.  Ms. Clinton fed him treats, which he gobbled voraciously, throwing caution to the winds, and a lot of good common sense, as well.  What had earlier seemed sensible (fairly) replies from the Donald became more disjointed, more fragmentary.  By the end of the evening, he was punch drunk, repeating himself over and over again, while Ms. Clinton led him down the garden path.  Her confidence levels blossomed so that she could, and did, eventually smile (rather a bit too smugly) because she knew Donald was in trouble.

Then Hillary did two big things.

She became a president.   She leaned out right around Donald to reassure our allies and friends in the world that NATO and our international agreements were, and are, in force.  That people who depend on us for safety, support and aid should rest easy about the full faith and credit of the American promise.  Hillary took the reins in her own hands and did what any responsible American leader should have done.   She saw a problem and she solved it.   Directly, swiftly, and with full force of forethought and determination.  It was SHE who took the BIG BREATH to do her duty as she saw fit.  And she was right and wise and effective.

Secondly, and less attractively, less necessarily, she got into the gutter with the Donald and started to chastise him as a schoolboy who called little girls dirty names.

Hillary’s “school-marming” at the end of the evening did not hurt her terribly, but only reinforced the notion that not only was she prepared, she was overly prepared.  To trace Trump lines back to their founder was unwise and brought her nothing except, probably, from her cohorts, sighs of disappointment. If this is how she goes “high” while the Donald stays “low,” it wasn’t convincing.

But her gamble paid off big time.

Not only did she step into a breach caused by her opponent,  she repaired that breach.

The end result of the debate itself may be moot, but we can soldier on.

Mrs. Clinton can lead.

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