On Monday night this week, 84 million Americans sat down in front of their television sets to watch Trump vs Clinton. The first of three presidential debates was the most popular to date, beating the Jimmy Carter vs Ronald Reagan debate back in 1980 by almost 4 million viewers.
Among the many viewers was your truly. I live in Europe, which meant I had to get up at three in the night. I also didn’t want to wake up my wife1, so I spent the night sleeping on the couch downstairs. But why do I bother to get up in the middle of the night to watch a political debate on the other side of the world? I don’t even follow domestic politics closely. The main reason was that I was hoping for a mental breakdown by Donald Trump on live TV, so I could tell my grandchildren that, yes, grandpa personally witnessed the Great Trump Meltdown of 2016.
While that never happened, at least we got to see Donald Trump being his rambling self. He occasionally managed to express himself using coherent sentences, but he spent most of his time pointing his index finger in the air, blaming Clinton for ISIS, getting visibly angry, and talking about Sean Hannity.
Clinton, on the other hand, managed to stay calmer, more focused, and even managed to give reasonably constructive answers to moderator Lester Holt’s questions. Holt, by the way, didn’t do an amazing job keeping the two candidates in check. Trump was allowed to interrupt Clinton 51 times without Holt lifting a finger.