It was a microcosm of the campaign: Clinton is a weak candidate, with a train car’s worth of luggage trailing behind her. But Trump is weaker still, and at every turn, he seems to overshadow her problems with much deeper problems of his own—much louder gaffes, much more serious political errors. That has been a rather depressing spectacle for the nation. In the last question of the evening, a citizen asked earnestly if either could say what they respected about the other. It wasn’t pretty. Clinton deflected, a little. “I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that,” she said.
Trump wasn’t sure whether to be grateful. “I consider her statement about my children a very nice compliment. I don’t know if it was meant to be a compliment,” he said. Then he offered his own backhanded compliment. “I will say this about Hillary: She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is,” Trump said. “She is a fighter. I disagree with much of what she is fighting for. I do disagree with her judgment in many cases, but she does fight hard and she doesn’t quit and she doesn’t give up and I consider that to be a very good trait.”
And with that, it was, blessedly, over.
–David A. Graham, Donald Trump’s Disastrous Debate