The Split Screen Told the Story of the Debate

Going into last night’s debate, I was a little worried that the decision would be made to show a split screen of both candidates throughout the debate. I was concerned that it would distract from the person talking and we’d lose the substance of what was said. I was wrong. In the end, the split screen told the story of the debate.

What we witnessed visually from Trump is that he became agitated at the least provocation from Clinton. He interrupted her constantly (29 times in 90 minutes) and made snide comments like the one about it being a good business practice to not pay his taxes. While Clinton occasionally gave us an eye roll or a laugh when Trump said ridiculous things, for the most part she remained calm and simply listened while he threw out zingers. That led to tweets like this from Republican consultant Frank Luntz:

Frankly, there were times I was amazed at Clinton’s focus and how well she managed to avoid taking the bait from Trump. For example, during the discussion about cyber security, Trump leveled this one:

But what did we learn with DNC? We learned that Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of by your people, by Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Look what happened to her. But Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of. That’s what we learned.

Now, whether that was Russia, whether that was China, whether it was another country, we don’t know, because the truth is, under President Obama we’ve lost control of things that we used to have control over.

During that, Clinton didn’t interrupt the way Trump did constantly. She simply listened as Trump went on to describe his 10 year old son’s computer acumen (?) and then came back with a description of her own plan to defeat ISIS. She did that over and over again last night. It was reminiscent of her emotional and mental composure over the 11 hours of grilling she got from the House Benghazi Committee.

Perhaps that is exactly the kind of thing that the majority of Americans are looking for in a Commander-in-Chief. That’s what the instant-polls and focus groups suggest.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .