In the final presidential debate both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton landed some good punches. Trump savaged Clinton on her emails, on the Obama administration withdrawal from Iraq, on the nuclear deal with Iran, on Democratic operatives’ fomenting violence at Trump events.

Clinton savaged Trump on his impulsiveness and his intemperate remarks on women and nuclear weapons. She hit him for his consistent response to one setback after another — he predictably claims that the results were rigged. Trump said Clinton should have been criminally prosecuted for her secret email system, an eminently defensible position. He nailed her on changing the subject from the WikiLeaks revelations by charging — in terms that seemed to me startlingly Joe McCarthyesque — that he was a knowing tool of Russia. He was equally startling when he declined to say he would accept the result of the election.

Clinton made one preposterous point after another — arguing that the D.C. law requiring weapons to be disassembled was necessary to prevent the deaths of thousands of “toddlers,” that Planned Parenthood’s business is conducting cancer screenings, that Trump would immediately deport all illegal aliens (he retracted that position some time ago), that cutting taxes has never helped produce economic growth and that raising taxes would.

On her statement to Banco Itau that her dream was a hemisphere with “open trade and open borders,” she said she was talking about an electric grid — an absurdity since it’s impossible to tie our three electric grids with Brazil’s.

Trump brought up again and again his pet issues which, so far as I can determine, aren’t of any great relevance to voters today: the supposed idiocy of the NAFTA agreement, the idea that the attack on Mosul should not have been announced in advance. Neither addressed the national debt and entitlement in anything close to a realistic and responsible way.

Clinton was well prepared, though she often sounded canned, and was mostly unflappable. Trump seemed better prepared and more cognizant of facts and recent new developments than in either previous presidential debate. But I ended the evening wondering how many viewers were convinced that they should not vote for either one of them.

Trump: I may not accept election result; Clinton: He 'is talking down our democracy'

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He must sway an electorate that polls show decisively moving against him.

By W. James Antle III

10/19/16 6:07 PM

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