Written by Hannah Dunleavy

In The News

What the fuck just happened? First Presidential Debate

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went head-to-head in the first televised Presidential Debate. Hannah Dunleavy watched every shouty second of it.

Illustration by Louise Boulter

Illustration by Louise Boulter.


OK, I’ve eaten all the biscuits and we’re still half an hour away. I’d vote for whoever can get these things moved forward so we can watch it in Europe after Pointless. This is a lie, obviously, but given what we’re about to watch, it seems appropriate.


On Sky, Kay Burley appears to be wandering around an empty aircraft hangar with #sadnessinhereyes. Over on Fox, they are stringing buzzwords together with some speculation and calling it news. Mercy, some dude on a Casio keyboard is singing a song about “the flag”; I’m going to need a bigger cup of tea.


Adam Boulton’s interviewing a guy dressed as the dude from the Monopoly box. He is quite mad. Phew, Bonnie Greer is also there. Some sense prevails. Might be the last of the evening.


They are going to start with the Spouses Round, apparently. What other time or place on earth could a former glamour model and a former president be applying for the same job?


Burley’s talking about how much Clinton has prepared with an aide playing the role of Trump. That sounds like a fun job; I’m going to suggest we do it in editorial meetings from now on. Meanwhile, everyone’s back to talking about Trump like he’s not some kind of dangerous racist tool. And Burley’s worried that tonight’s host Lester Holt has Republican membership, meaning he might not be impartial. I’m just going to laugh at that until the things start.


OK, it’s not even started and I’ve already seen more adverts than anyone could ever need to.

“If Clinton is ill and she’s decided to devote the last months of her life to stopping an orange despot taking over the free world, I say more power to her elbow. That’s superhero stuff.”


And we’re off and talking “achieving prosperity.” Clinton mentions small business, raising minimum wage, equal pay for women, closing corporate tax loopholes, childcare and profit sharing at companies. This all sounds perfectly reasonable. Over to Trump. Boom, he’s said Mexico and China in the first 30 seconds. His “unspecified” policy to improve America is going to be “a beautiful thing to watch” but short on actual substance. Like a later Terrence Malick film.


Trump talks about China again, and how successful he is. He fails to answer about how to get business back to America. Twice. He also interrupts, which he wasn’t supposed to do. Still, he lasted 16 minutes. He’ll probably get a gold star on his Good Boy chart when he gets home.


Clinton is all over this, but Trump is already being “semi-exact” and talking over her. I need to lie down. And not just because it’s the middle of the night.


And now he’s shouting. And talking over the moderator. And yelling ISIS. He’s like a very drunk Sterling Archer. She’s holding her own and certainly doesn’t look near death or whatever else the internet had decided was going on. (While we’re on it, if she is ill and she’s decided to devote the last months of her life to stopping an orange despot taking over the free world, I say more power to her elbow. That’s superhero stuff.)


OK, it’s officially out of control. Who had 2.25am?


He just can’t stop butting in. Sweet baby Jesus, America’s about to elect Paulie Walnuts.


Trump’s sticking with the line that he can’t release his tax return because of an audit. And is full-on screaming about Clinton’s emails. The audience joins in and gets told off for it. My ears hurt. And also my soul. She accuses him of a bait and switch and absolutely hammers him on what he might be hiding. Oh the rollercoaster. I want to get off. No really, can someone tell the men with the lever I feel sick.


Clinton’s having a go at the way Trump runs his business. UNDERSTANDABLY. And she’s doing a corking job. He says she’s talking in soundbites and gives us what feels like a PowerPoint presentation about how much he is loved and what a nice guy he is. Man, this is serious political debate. I need more tea.

“Clinton’s talking to the whole world now, reassuring them that America isn’t a bag of dicks. Contrary to current evidence.”


We’ve moved to the issue of race. I’m a little bit scared.


She’s brought up guns. *bites fist*


Trump wants to bring back Stop and Frisk, which was ruled unconstitutional because it was used somewhat indiscriminately against young black and Hispanic men. Trump appears to fail to understand this. Or not care. Both probably. He also starts talking about the “bad people”.  A lot. I should have made myself a bingo card. For this rocking debate party I am having with the cats. Woah! 2.48am!


“You shouldn’t have a profit motivation to fill prison cells with young Americans.” Well said Clinton, well bloody said.


I think Trump’s under the impression that the longer you talk, the more important you are. He knocks Clinton for preparing for the debate. She says she did and has also prepared to be President. She is being rather spiffing tonight. I wish I could believe any of this will change any of the Trump mob’s minds.


Trump’s blaming the Birther Movement on Clinton. Holt points out that this response isn’t a response. Twice. Trump tells him that he did the country a great service in demanding Obama release the birth certificate. Man, it must be like Being John Malkovich inside his head.

Donald Trump photo by Gage Skidmore.

Donald Trump photo by Gage Skidmore.


Trump criticises negative adverts, which he doesn’t do. Too busy calling Clinton names on Twitter for that. The cats have gone to sleep. I’m going to leave them; they will be wandering a scorched earth in search of food soon enough.


Securing America! I get the feeling this is going to be the swimsuit round of the competition. I have no idea, I’m very tired.


OK, they mean cyber attacks. I think Trump just burped into the microphone. It’s the most sense he’s made all night.


I’m not sure Trump’s let Holt finish a question at all this evening. His policy in this cyber crisis age appears to boil down to him wanting America to have a better website than ISIS and for his son to be Secretary of State for New-Fangled Technology. The 10-year-old one. Maybe. I got a bit lost in the madness. Maybe check.

“Trump shouts ‘Sean Hannity’ with the commitment of a man who’s just seen him in the Choristers’ car park.”


This is like listening to the guy at the end of the bar that everyone’s trying to get away from. Most of Trump’s policies seem to involve not letting something that has already happened happen. It’s the “make it 1997 again through magic or science” policy of Jack Donaghy. Heaven help us.


Trump is arguing the odds with Holt about his claim that he was against the Iraq War before the Iraq War. Now he’s just shouting over him. Mmmm Presidential. He shouts “Sean Hannity” with the commitment of a man who’s just seen him in the Choristers’ car park. He claims he has better judgement than Clinton and a better temperament. People actually burst out laughing. Oh good God, he thinks a winning temperament is one that means you like winning.


She’s brought up nuclear weapons. I feel a bit sick. He seems to be pitching some kind of global protection racket. *puts hands over ears and rocks* Oh God, I can still hear him. He wants China to invade North Korea. Make it stop.


Clinton’s talking to the whole world now, reassuring them that America isn’t a bag of dicks. Contrary to current evidence.


Trump responds to claims he doesn’t respect women by saying he could have said a bad thing about Clinton and her family but he didn’t. This is like listening to pre-teens on the bus. Clinton says she will respect the outcome of the election. Trump’s claiming the election might be rigged but says he will support Clinton if she wins. Which is the most reasonable he’s been not just all night but all election.


And we’re done. Bar a bit of crowd shouting at the end. I’m not entirely sure what I just watched. Clinton was excellent, Trump was Trump. The world spins on its axis. We’ll see what tomorrow’s polls bring. *fetches retching bucket*


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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.