The Great Debate of 2016 – Hillary the slugger, Trump the gentleman

Who gained the most from tonight's debate?

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Jack Engelhard,

Jack Engelhard
Jack Engelhard
צילום: מתוך האתר האישי

Billed as the defining event for the presidential sweepstakes, the two, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, finally clashed head to head to persuade America which one is best suited for the job. One hundred million of us tuned in last night waiting for someone to get clobbered.

Hillary came across rehearsed and scripted and ready to fight. Trump, far less seasoned in political street fighting, was not nearly as prepared.

He was never smug or condescending. She was.
But he may have won on personality. He was never smug or condescending. She was. It was obvious that each came out with a different plan; his was to be the gentleman, hers was to go after him by use of mockery. So she brought up his several failures in business and his failure to produce his tax returns.

She also scored on the birther business and some real estate controversy going back to 1972, which proved that she and her team had done their homework.

Trump, it seemed, was winging it, and in so doing, to this voter he seemed more genuine and more likeable. He also seemed unwilling to tangle and rumble.

Watch for it next time, now that he’s been warned that he is dealing with a hellcat.

From the pundits we have already heard that she had him on the defensive. That may well be so, but did she score points so far as being likeable?

Yes she was sharp and on her game, but at the price of being mechanical.

Trump continued to let her go after him attack after attack and kept being the gentleman until he could take it no more, as when she prided her foreign policy.

“Under your leadership,” he countered, “yours and Obama’s, we got ISIS.”

He named the “disastrous” Iraq War and the Iraq pullout and the “terrible” Iran Nuke Deal as all of it her fault together with Obama.

As to her claim that she made deals in more than 100 countries, he could have said that you can lead a cow around the world, but when it comes back it is still a cow. He said something quite the same, that yes “you’ve made deals, but all of them were bad deals.”

On that, Trump won handily. Otherwise, he missed some golden chances to attack her on Benghazi, which was never mentioned, not by Trump, nor by moderator Lester Holt, and certainly not by Hillary Clinton. Here Trump illustrated that he needs more seasoning in the political arena.

Holt mentioned cyber spying. Both agreed that it is problem that must be solved. In fact, time and again Trump turned to her in agreement and even in friendship.

Hillary would have none of it and her bitterness was plain for the cameras. If anyone would play the bully, it would not be Trump.

Points for that? I should think so.

But he did not take the opening on the dangers of cyber spying. This was where he could have brought up her extreme carelessness with classified material.

He could have blamed her for recklessly providing aid to our enemies and thus endangering our national security.

But he less it pass. He let go a moment that could have won him the debate hands down.

Only once did he being that up, back when the question was raised on his tax returns.

“I’ll release my tax returns,” he said, “when you release your 33,000 deleted emails.”

Party Holt’s fault, but no mention was made of her Clinton Foundation, which is also deeply mired in alleged corruption. Trump should have brought it up, but from the very beginning, for some reason, he declined to hit her where it hurts. He was simply unprepared for a woman on the warpath.

His going soft may have lost him the debate, but his gentlemanly approach may have won him the friends she lost by going nasty and scorched earth.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes a regular column for Arutz Sheva. His thriller “The Bathsheba Deadline” exposes the media. New from the novelist: “News Anchor Sweetheart,” a novelist’s version of Fox News and Megyn Kelly. Engelhard is the author of the international bestseller “Indecent Proposal.” He is the recipient of the Ben Hecht Award for Literary Excellence. Website: