After the third and final debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the journalist Dan Rather posted his commentary on Facebook.
He began by writing, “I suspect the headline out of tonight may very well be Donald Trump’s refusal to guarantee that he will accept the decision of the voters on November 8. It is a horrifying and destabilizing betrayal of the norms of American politics. But it was just one part of this final debate in a campaign that seems to be firmly in the Twilight Zone. This is not what our democracy should be, but it is where we are today. I wonder if many minds were changed. I doubt it.”
At this late date, most voters have probably decided who they plan to vote for – and they have already seen the other two debates. Trump’s refusal to promise to accept the results of the election has indeed attracted lots of attention – even in other countries.
The UK’s “The Telegraph” published an analysis describing what might happen if Trump doesn’t concede a loss. According to the article, Trump will have no realistic options if he loses by a landslide. On the other hand, if the results are close, he and his followers could refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Secretary Clinton’s Presidency. “The Telegraph,” like everybody else, has noted that Trump’s refusal to recognize or concede a loss is unprecedented and could have dire consequences.
Rather devoted the bulk of his analysis to comparing and contrasting the two candidates. He commented that Clinton seemed to be using the debate as an opportunity to give people a “preview of her presidency.” She struck Rather as “steely, determined, forceful,” and she made a point of referencing her background and extensive experience during the debate.
Rather noted that the debate’s format favored depth over breadth. The moderator, Chris Wallace, covered only a few topics, which forced the candidates to spend some time on them. Clinton was ready, and answered the questions with policy point after policy point. Trump struggled, however, and sometimes dissolved into incoherence:
“By contrast, Trump has been skating through the campaign on buzzwords and applause lines that fire up his base. Tonight the format asked for more substance and he struggled. He often left topics dangling, meandered through head-scratching sentences, and fumbled with thoughts that went nowhere – all lines of thoughts wavering in the wind. Often his most cogent statements were cheap shots. When he would stop talking, I sometimes had to ask myself what was he talking about?”
Dan Rather was the anchor of “CBS Evening News” until 2005. Before that, he had been a correspondent on “60 Minutes.” He has written about politics ever since the Kennedy assassination.
Rather has posted commentaries on all three debates on Facebook, and he has included links to them on his website, “News and Guts.” His comments indicate strongly that he considers Secretary Clinton to be the vastly superior candidate. In his commentary on the first debate, Rather states the Founders would not have approved of Trump at all:
“Our Founders believed in reason and the power of intellect. Donald Trump made clear tonight by his willful ignorance of important issues that he does not. Our founders feared the accumulation of power, they loathed vanity, and tried to build in protections against the demagogues who would appeal to mankind’s basest instincts. Donald Trump relishes in all of these impulses. For him they are instinctual and a prescription for success.”
Rather’s commentaries show that he considers Trump unqualified to be President and potentially dangerous. Clinton, by contrast, has extensive knowledge and experience and a solidly professional demeanor. Rather believes she would make a good President. He has no such confidence in Trump’s capabilities.