It’s Tuesday, the traditional day for elections and for our pause-and-consider newsletter on politics and policy. We think of it as a mini-magazine in your Inbox.
By Lisa Desjardins, correspondent
Much has been made of facts this election, when to check them and how politicians and the media use (or abuse) them. But consider adding another measure of substance to your debate analysis: the exact words Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump used last night. The transcript provides some interesting insights.
“Tax” came up as often as “jobs” — 49 times each. On the other end, “Syria” and “climate” each were mentioned only once. Both times by Clinton.
The candidates both used a long-standing passive aggressive Washington technique of addressing each other using specific terms. Clinton called Trump “Donald” 49 times, while Trump referred to her throughout as “secretary” more than 20 times.
Money mattered. Dollar figures entered the conversation 30 times with the word “money” itself making 20 appearances.
And one thing mattered most, judging by the candidates' battle to wrack up their counts of the word “America.” Clinton and Trump used the word in the debate some 54 times.
By Daniel Bush, digital politics editor
Hillary Clinton won the first debate. She had a good night. Donald Trump? Not so much. Clinton was uneven early on, when Trump was at his strongest. But about 15 minutes in, Clinton took over and kept Trump on the defensive for the rest of the night. He came across as erratic, angry, flustered and unprepared for the biggest political stage of the election. Clinton, in contrast, appeared poised and knowledgeable on domestic and foreign policy. Here are a few more second-day takeaways:
Trump was rattled. Trump seemed rattled for most of the debate, and it showed. He gave rambling, incoherent responses to questions about his tax returns, the birth controversy, and his past statements on women, among other topics.
Clinton was her wonky self, for better or worse. On stage last night Clinton defended her decision to prepare for the debate, and for the presidency. “That’s a good thing,” she said. Yet she faced criticism after the debate for coming off as too wonky. Whether it’s fair or not, it’s a criticism Clinton can’t shake. On Election Day, voters will decide whether they want a president who cares about policy details, or someone who doesn’t.
Some actual substance. If you take a step back from the blow-by-blow, there were a few moments of important substance in the first debate, especially on class, race and policing. Clinton called for gun control and more trust between communities and police. Trump, on the other hand, stressed his call for “law and order.”
Round 2: Trump needs a game-changer. Trump needed to do one thing at the debate on Monday: convince skeptical voters outside of his base that he would be a competent, serious-minded president, with a basic grasp of policy. He failed. Trump will get a second chance at the next debate, but now the pressure is even higher.
CONGRESS ONE STEP CLOSER TO FRIDAY SHUTDOWN
By Quinn Bowman, Capitol Hill producer
By Bob Kovach
On September 27th in a previous year, a U.S. president created a new cabinet-level agency: the Department of Education. Who was that president?
Send us your answers. Email us at NewsHourPolitics@newshour.org or tweet your guesses using #PoliticsTrivia. The first correct answers will earn a bully for you! Shout out to our tens of thousands of readers next week.
Last week we asked: which president was inaugurated in September 1881 and where was he born?
The answer is Chester A. Arthur who Lisa persuasively argues is the most under-recognized president in U.S. history. (See below.) Arthur was born in Fairfield, Vermont, a significant fact as some at the time insisted he was actually born in Canada and not qualified to be president.
MORE ON CHESTER ARTHUR
Only the foundation of good government. Arthur signed the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, which is a cornerstone of our meritocracy. It decreed that those who work for the government should be hired on merit, not on political connections. It sounds basic now, but it was not in 1883 when political bosses made government hires and corruption was part of the federal DNA. This was a dramatic, pivotal act for Arthur, who broke with the political machine that put him in office in signing the law and moving the U.S. away from corruption.
The steel Navy. Arthur is known as the “father of the steel Navy” for pushing the U.S. to move past a wooden fleet and into steel.
What would have been the nation’s first civil rights law. Arthur backed the Civil Rights Act of 1875, mandating equal treatment for all races in public places and on public transportation. The Supreme Court struck it down however, and Arthur was not able to push through a replacement version.
He defended the original Rosa Parks. As a young lawyer in 1855, Arthur defended an African-American woman named Elizabeth Jennings who had been forced off a streetcar in New York City for refusing to sit in the section reserved for blacks. The case forced desegregation of transportation throughout the city.
The first major renovation of the White House. Arthur, known for his fashion taste, hired Louis Comfort Tiffany, of Tiffany’s, to redecorate the building, which had fallen into disrepair.
A prominent journalist at the time wrote, “No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted as Chester Alan Arthur, and no one ever retired … more generally respected, alike by political friend and foe.”
- Mark Twain concluded that “it would be hard indeed … to better” Arthur’s administration.
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