The Nation reports:
So it happened: Donald Trump faced Hillary Clinton onstage in the first presidential debate, and the earth didn’t swallow us up and end civilization as we knew it. The earth did not stand still. What had seemed like a bad dream wasn’t a dream: Trump is the GOP nominee for president of the United States, and only Clinton stands between him and the nuclear codes. There must be a German word for the feeling you get when something so terrible happens, you think you’re imagining it, but I haven’t found it yet. There they were, together, in the flesh, on the debate stage, with polls showing the race tightening.
This match meant something serious.
Clinton faced asymmetric warfare at Hofstra: She is knowledgeable, wonky, experienced, conscientious; Trump is the opposite of all of that. His folks had been telling the media she had more to lose, as the great debater; he just had to fail to swear, spew misogyny, and tell obvious lies in order to exceed expectations. The Democrat went in as “the AP high-school history teacher,” conservative Hugh Hewitt observed on MSNBC Sunday, avoiding overt sexism but tooting a misogynist dog whistle, while “Trump is the football coach.”
Well, the football coach flopped, badly. Trump came in unprepared and winging it, and he never got more serious or grounded in policy or detail as the night went on. Clinton found a way to sound competent without being overbearing or scolding. From early on Trump hectored her, interrupting and talking over her, and she handled it with aplomb.
She regularly advised the audience to check her Web site, HillaryClinton.com, for real-time fact-checking. “Donald, I know you live in your own reality,” she said calmly. And it gradually became clear she was right.Mic reports:
That sound you hear is the entire Democratic Party exhaling.
Hillary Clinton cleaned Donald Trump's clock here at Hofstra University in the first presidential debate, delivering a strong performance that put anxious Democrats' nerves at ease.
"I think it may be the most lopsided debate ever," a relieved Clinton campaign official said halfway through the debate.
Clinton won by letting Trump shoot himself in the foot over and over again, keeping her cool as the Republican nominee repeatedly interrupted her and continued to lie about his past positions. She was prepared, poised and patient as Trump repeatedly took her bait, overreacting to Clinton's attacks and walking into the traps Clinton laid for Trump over his business record and political history. She was funny without being inauthentic, and the contrast with Trump's unhinged performance was striking.
Throughout the night, she managed to criticize and correct Trump without coming across as arrogant. Her reactions to Trump's were not unlike how many viewers must have reacted at home: "Can you believe this guy?" Toward the end, he said Rosie O'Donnell deserved the sexist insults he'd lobbed at her appearance.
That happened. In a presidential debate.
If expectations were any lower for Trump coming into the first presidential debate, they would have been underground. But somehow, Trump managed to dig a tunnel underneath them. Clinton won the first debate in a landslide.