Hillary Clinton was boring and exceptionally well-prepared. Donald Trump was exciting but embarrassingly undisciplined. He began with his strongest argument — that the political class represented by her has failed us and it’s time to look to a successful dealmaker for leadership — and kept to it pretty well for the first 20 minutes.
Then due to the vanity and laziness that led him to think he could wing the most important 95 minutes of his life, he lost the thread of his argument, he lost control of his temper and he lost the perspective necessary to correct these mistakes as he went.
Methodically and carefully, Hillary Clinton took over. Her purpose was to show she was rational and policy-driven, the kind of person who could be trusted to handle a careful and delicate job with prudence and sobriety — and that he was none of these things.
And she succeeded. By the end of the 95 minutes, Trump was reduced to a sputtering mess blathering about Rosie O’Donnell and about how he hasn’t yet said the mean things about Hillary that he is thinking.
Most important, he set ticking time bombs for himself over the next six weeks.
As she hammered him on his tax returns, he handed her an inestimable gift by basically saying he pays no federal taxes despite his billions — and moreover, that if he had done so, it would have been “squandered” anyway.