Mercifully, we have reached the end of the 2016 presidential debates.
Somewhere out there on the Internet, there is a GIF of Elmo from Sesame Street dancing amid streams of confetti that I am too lazy to find. But if I had the motivation, I would insert it right here.
Seventy-one million people watched last night’s spectacle, an increase over the second debate. Never again will these two candidates have a chance to address the nation on the same platform in front of a bigger audience prior to Election Day.
And given the chaotic state of Donald Trump’s campaign — which he did nothing to remedy last night — that is a very, very good thing for supporters of Hillary Clinton.
That being said, this debate was easily the most watchable of the three, with discussions focusing largely on actual policy, thanks in large part to the stringent moderation by Chris Wallace.
In my opinion, it was the most well-moderated debate of the last two election cycles. Wallace, a Fox News host who formerly worked for NBC, is a registered Democrat, and has voted for presidents of both parties in his lifetime, made sure both candidates stayed on topic, and asked pointed questions to each that addressed their greatest shortcomings.
But it was Hillary who prevailed. She finally got the policy debate she wanted, and was able to stay on message from start to finish, never losing her poise, while throwing in several not-so-subtle jabs towards her opponent that he really had no answer for.
Quite honestly, I don’t think Hillary could have scripted it better if she tried.
While there is plenty to dissect over what was said last night, easily the most prevailing takeaway that will be remembered for years to come was Donald Trump’s flat-out refusal to confirm that he would accept the result of the election — therefore undermining the whole basis of our democracy, and perpetuating a dangerous belief among his most fervent supporters that they, too, don’t have to accept it either.
It was arguably a disqualifying moment in American politics and officially closes the book on what was very likely the worst presidential candidate in our nation’s history.
One day later, Trump doubled down on his remark (“I’ll accept the result … if I win”) and at the same time attempted to clarify by saying he wants to reserve the right to legally challenge it if it appears to be questionable.
In other words, he did what he always does — talked himself into an even worse mess.
But anyway, now that these are done, it’s time to mentally prepare ourselves for the inevitable: President Hillary Clinton.
For many, those three words will make them gag. At best, most will shrug.
Me? I’m fine with it. And yes, I’ve read a lot of reporting on the email content that was leaked from Hillary’s aides via Wikileaks.
While there are instances of imperfect political comportment and conniving gamesmanship among her and her aides, it all amounts to one thing — Hillary Clinton is an intensely ambitious, highly studious and devoted public servant who will on occasion blur the ethical line to achieve her goal of helping people.
If that’s disqualifying to some people, then so be it.
I for one believe America will be in perfectly capable hands.