Here is part of right-leaning Stephen Green's summation of the October 9, 2016, Trump-Clinton debate at Washington University in St. Louis. The following blockquote has been edited for style:
For all the lovely camaraderie of the last couple of minutes, it’s clear that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump loathe each other. Instead of a [90-minute town-hall] format, there’s no doubt that both candidates would eagerly agree to a debate held in a Roman Colosseum, to the death.
And, yes, we would be entertained.
But we have to talk about tonight’s debate, which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, going back to when I was a child barely older than my oldest son, watching Reagan take on Carter.
I’ve seen them all. I’ve [drunk] to most of them. Most have faded into nothingness.
This one, however, might linger.
I’ve never seen one candidate come on so [weak], then reverse course—in his own limited, almost demented fashion—so strongly.
I’ve never seen another candidate, so thoroughly [programmed], act as though her various subroutines had been corrupted by one of those nasty Russian viruses.
And all of this was after we began a presidential debate—a debate to determine the next [president] of the United States!—by talking about the proclivities of a major-party candidate who had once [gabbed] about grabbing women by...
Well, let’s not go there. We’ve said too much already.
This was not, in the end—or at almost any other point, really—a serious debate on the issues.
But it was a deadly serious contest between two people too unserious to be president.
One of those unserious people demonstrated tonight that he is at least serious enough to recover from his many self-inflicted wounds, and in the most adverse and public circumstances.
Round 3 is ten days from now. I don’t know what to expect, because nothing from the first debate prepared us for anything from tonight’s debate.
But I can tell you this much: As pure entertainment, I’m looking forward, for once, more to the debate than to the cocktails.
From reading around, I get the sense that partisanship is more in play this time when judging who won the second debate. Leftie commentators are generally scoring another win for Hillary; rightie talking heads are scoring this round for Trump. I haven't watched the debate or combed through the transcript yet, but my overall impression, based on public perception, is that this debate is largely a tie, which probably means that the electoral needle won't be moved at all. Apparently, Trump got combative, but only after a lackluster initial half-hour—the reverse of what happened in the previous debate, during which Trump was on fire for the first third. As before, there were rightie complaints about the moderation, and Trump himself was moved to complain about the "three on one" tactics of Hillary and the two moderators. Well, the final debate will be moderated by a conservative journalist, so I expect the left will have something to complain about in ten days.
I'm still digesting the postmortems, so there may be further posts. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: John Hinderaker thinks Trump won big. Fortune disagrees. I could post opposing viewpoints all night, but I'd only be repeating the point I've already made: reviews of this debate break along partisan lines.
UPDATE 2: not debate-related, but Robert De Niro says he'd like to punch Trump in the face.
UPDATE 3: in the comments, King Baeksu notes Scott Adams's tweet that "it was a slaughter," i.e., Trump won. Adams's blog post on the matter is here. Choice quote:
4. Trump’s pre-debate show with Bill’s alleged victims dismantled Clinton’s pro-woman high ground before the debate even started. I didn’t see the pre-debate show, but I assume it was impactful. It had to be. Clinton looked shaken from the start.
5. The best quotable moments from the debate are pro-Trump. His comment about putting Clinton in jail has that marvelous visual persuasion quality about it, and it was the laugh of the night, which means it will be repeated endlessly. He also looked like he meant it.
Clinton’s Abe Lincoln defense for two-faced politicking failed as hard as anything can fail. Mrs. Clinton, I knew Abe Lincoln, and you’re no Abe Lincoln. You know that was in your head. Or it will be.
In the above-linked blog post, some of Adams's comments on Switzerland should be taken with a big grain of salt. I lived in Switzerland, so I know. Specifically: "No racial strife"? I beg to differ. There was plenty of tension back in the early 90s: Turks were a burgeoning minority; many of them weren't assimilating into Swiss culture. Even more recently, in 2007, Switzerland was having problems. "No real pollution" and "no litter"? Not quite. Switzerland is definitely a clean country, even by first-world standards, but there's plenty of litter and plenty of graffiti in the big cities, especially in and around the train stations. "No homeless that I could see"? Congrats on not seeing any homeless, Mr. Adams, but Switzerland does have its own homeless problem. Some of this isn't necessarily Switzerland's fault: there are thousands, maybe millions, of Roma/Romani/Gypsies all over Western Europe—again, hanging around train stations and begging. As for the presence of other non-Roma clochards: I saw some in Geneva. Adams writes:
Trump is trying to make America a bit more like Switzerland. Clinton is trying to make America less like Switzerland. Spend a day in Switzerland and tell me who has the better plan. This country is amazing.
I love Switzerland for its landscape, not so much for its people, who are generally polite and correct—quite Germanic in their comportment, even in the Italian-speaking region of Ticino—but also somewhat cold. The French, in contrast to the Swiss, may have kooky, upside-down politics, but they're warm, friendly, and generally open. The Swiss, meanwhile, are what the French term renfermés, i.e., closed-in, cliquish, not open to foreigners. I think strengthening and protecting US borders is a good and lofty goal, but for us to become like the less-friendy Swiss—not so much. Americans, as a people, have no reason to be icy to outsiders.
UPDATE 4: Styx thinks Trump "vastly outperformed" Clinton.