The words flew last evening in Hempstead, New York—sometimes two and three at a time—as the two major-party nominees for president made their cases to the American people in their first debate. The candidates tossed out the familiar bogeymen—missing emails, unreleased tax returns, old trade pacts, and trickle-down economics. Donald blamed Hillary for (somehow) starting the “birther” campaign against President Obama and a failure to single-handedly stop ISIS. Hillary blamed Donald for stiffing workers, serial bankruptcies, and weakening our military alliances.
But it wasn’t until nearly 90 minutes into the rumble that the most revealing exchange took place. Moderator Lester Holt asked Trump to clarify what he meant when he said, earlier in the month, that Clinton didn’t have “a presidential look.” Trump answered: “She doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina, I said she doesn’t have the stamina, and I don’t believe she does have the stamina.”
In fairness to Trump, asking who has the stamina to be President of the United States is a legitimate—even essential—question for voters. Being the Night Watchman of the World, after all, is an unforgiving job. There is no snooze button for crisis, no pause for the force of global entropy. The testing of a great nation is dawn-to-dusk and dusk-to-dawn—and the person who leads it must be ready and able at all hours.
That said, there was only one person on stage in Hempstead last night who never looked haggard or unsure. She was wearing a red pantsuit.