The second debate helped clarify how each candidate sees the world at this moment, which ironically added to the confusion of truth that has overtaken this election cycle. Mr. Trump described a country and a world that seems to be falling apart. Secretary Clinton offered a differing view, one where improvement could be realized with some modifications and collaboration. Much like the first presidential debate, one candidate defined a system that is in serious need of change – the other considered existing policies and government strategy as something in which to build on, requiring slight adjustments to maximize outcome. In other words, Mr. Trump believes the country is headed in the wrong direction – Secretary Clinton disagrees.
If national security is any indication of truth, Mr. Trump’s perspective appears to be closer to reality.
The email controversy once again met a generally unrepentant Secretary Clinton. She flatly denied even those facts to which the FBI Director testified. Her willingness to challenge those truths on such a big stage should be seen as a symptom of a larger problem: how political elites refuse to believe their actions take for granted the security of the United States. That theme continued with immigration when Secretary Clinton suggested her administration could and would effectively vet thousands of additional Syrian refugees. That surge is not sympathy – that’s untenable and dangerous. Our government has proven, from healthcare to the economy, that it simply does not have the capacity to manage such a consequential operation. Secretary Clinton closed the loop on this theme by naming the Iran Deal and work with Russia on nuclear material as successes that prove her ability to address Syria. Those conclusions were either knowingly untruthful or frighteningly naïve. In fact, the situation in Syria may be unrecoverable because of her decisions while with the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, a plan to defeat global jihadism remained elusive. Both simply chose to focus on other matters. And the moderators’ recent obsession over Aleppo strikes me as curious. The questions which echoed the vice presidential debate imply that America must now get involved. A frustrating development since few in the media demanded action from the Obama administration when it could have potentially prevented the ongoing tragedy. The issue reminds of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill when he extolled the House of Commons for dithering in the face of Nazi military build-up. “When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure.”
But we did finally see some separation in strategy over the Middle East, wherein Secretary Clinton called for increased focus on Syria, particularly human rights investigations into Russian aggression, and Mr. Trump said the United States must focus on the Islamic State. Both ideas seemed reasonable and easily digestible for voters.
The highlight of the night, however, came when Mr. Trump essentially said America must know its enemy first and foremost in regards to terrorism. This point is a critical one we at the NCPA have called for in partnership with Lt. General Michael Flynn (ret.) in our Foxnews article. Secretary Clinton’s muddled and stale response about accepting people – “not all Muslims are bad” routine — proved his point and her own inability to be honest about the threat. She should be reminded that naming the enemy actually clarifies things, it doesn’t confuse them.
The lack of comments on the state of our military, despite the litany of foreign policy solutions each wanted to implement, remained the most glaring omission. It will be difficult to achieve any of their objectives with the readiness crisis facing U.S. armed forces.
In the end, both proved to have completely different views of the world as it stands. Americans must decide with which reality they agree.