Donald Trump is a genius. He did what he had to do in the debate last night because he has set himself up brilliantly going forward. At the end of the debate, as expected, everyone has retreated to their corners and claimed their candidate the victor. That's patently ridiculous. The debate itself has become somewhat akin to kabuki theater - each candidate plays to their voters or perceived 'getable' undecideds. This was moreso the case yesterday, despite 80 million viewers.
Who won the debate doesn't matter; who helped their chances to win the White House is what matters, in that regard there is some analysis I can add to the blizzard of post analyses already out there today.
First let me summarize the post-game reviews. The consensus is that Hillary Clinton won on points. Trump won first30 minutes, Hillary won the next 30 minutes and the last 30 were fairly even with Hillary winning by a bit. But that's debate points. The debate winner doesn't get a medal, let alone the White House.
As an aside the moderator Holt interrupted and fact checked Trump something like 13 times, at one point arguing with the candidate, and Hillary a total N'once'. Zero. The same was true for crowd scoldings; he clearly had a bias for the Democrat and will be rewarded with possible medals from fellow media talking heads for tilting the floor in her direction. He was not terrible, but he was not impartial. To me, that's not a pass.
Rush Limbaugh pointed out today that the media is measuring the debate by old standards. He may be right. It's too early to tell, but let me postulate this - it's a trap.
Donald Trump did what he had to do - he stayed relatively even keeled and still stood up for himself. By being on the stage he proved he could behave in a way befitting the office. More importantly, he did not go for the jugular of Clinton - a woman. Doing so would have done him more harm than good. By not doing so, he leaves room to go after her very hard in the next debates and allow him a pass when and if he does. He's proved he could be civil, the media claims he lost - he has an excuse to go hard at her the next time. He can be relentless because he's behind and come off as tough but not get the bully label.
If that's Donald Trump's plan it's truly brilliant and I would not put anything beyond the scope of his strategy. The next debate will prove that to be true or mere speculation on my part. I don't think it is.