Her smile betrayed Hillary Clinton. It was too long, too frequent and obviously planned. It was a silent statement that she, the mature adult on the stage, was showing the stoic forbearance of a saint against an unruly child.
But the unruly child didn’t cooperate with her plan. Donald Trump was a brawler from start to finish and played very rough, but was never wild, and was nowhere near the monster she needed him to be.
Maybe now she will take him seriously. She’d better if she wants to be president.
A slugfest standoff, which is what America witnessed Monday night, is much better for Trump than it is for Clinton.
Going into the first debate, Trump had to step over a very low bar. All he had to do was reassure voters that he was neither a lunatic nor an idiot, and could control his temper for 90 minutes.
He cleared the bar, delivering a series of passionate moments on issues of substance, such as trade, jobs and taxes in the first few minutes. And while he regressed into an old habit of wandering into rhetorical dead ends, interrupting, making faces and talking too much about his business, he never lost his cool in a way that would have been a disaster.