Law & Order at Debate: Trump Hammers, Hillary Stammers

during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt.

Donald Trump’s blunt response to a question on race at Monday night’s debate showed the difference between Trump’s hard nosed realism and Hillary Clinton’s decades of political parsing.

Republican nominee Donald Trump delivered a strong message about law and order that was squarely aimed every at American concerned about what they are seeing in the news day in and day out. By contrast, Hillary Clinton delivered a mush of platitudes that were likely aimed at the much smaller audience of guilty white liberals.

Hillary Clinton’s tepid response was designed to allow her to tiptoe a thin line to focus on the complaints of Black Lives Matter while not exactly coming right out and blaming the police. The result was a mess, with Clinton unable to effectively land any sort of punch against Trump.

More importantly, Trump did not just tie the concept of law and order to protecting any single group, but to protecting all people — especially African-Americans. This built on the unprecedented inroads that Trump has made with black voters in the last few weeks.

Trump also hammered on the fact that Chicago has had 4000 murders since Barack Obama’s presidency began and has had 3000 shootings this year alone. He suggested that law enforcement techniques like “stop and frisk” were effective in New York City when implemented by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and would be equally effective across the country in taking guns out of the hands of  bad guys.

Clinton’s response was to simply deny reality and say that Trump was painting an overly negative and “dire” picture of inner-city America. Hillary Clinton’s argument is unlikely to go over well with the residents of inner-city America, or anybody who’s paying any attention to what is going on in cities across America from Baltimore to Chicago to Los Angeles.

After this initial volley, both Trump and Clinton settled down into minor scuffles on issues like community relations between police as well as not letting people on the “no-fly list” have guns. Compared to Trump’s initial blockbuster response, it was weak tea. Trump’s damage had already been done.

While Americans are watching chaos in the streets of Charlotte North Carolina, Donald Trump’s no-nonsense approach focus on two blunt words – law and order – brought clarity to the issue that Hillary Clinton’s muddle of catchphrases about feelings and mental health could not.

Trump concluded with a message that will likely resonate with many people in America’s inner city: The politicians are able to talk one game around election time, but  have not delivered results.

That’s reality and reality is something Clinton could not deliver.