BILL O'REILLY: Many folks only hear what they want to hear and that's why most of the post-debate comments last night were a colossal waste of time. Many opinions on the debate are subject to rooting interest and to expunge that you actually have to step back and think.
Talking Points has done that and here is my assessment. Neither candidate broke out last night, the American people did not learn very much because both candidates stuck to what they have said in the past. There were few challenging questions put forth, only general queries except for the birther and tax return stuff designed to hammer Mr. Trump. Let's begin with demeanor, very important to Donald Trump. At the start he was credible, speaking about the need to stimulate the private sector so jobs are created. But as the debate wore on, Mr. Trump began to get a bit testy.
For her part, Secretary Clinton stuck to the progressive script and seemed somewhat smug while not speaking. One of the most interesting parts of the debate was the racial aspect framed around stop-and-frisk. The truth is that aggressive police monitoring in high-crime neighborhoods does cut violent crime, especially where guns are used. But stop-and-frisk also does alienate some law-abiding folks who are subject to intrusion. There is no question that permissive local governments run by Democrats have failed dismally in places like Chicago and Baltimore. Mr. Trump missed an opportunity to ask Mrs. Clinton to repudiate those administrations. He also missed chances to pin the secretary down on sanctuary cities, violent protests, disrespect for the anthem and vouchers to improve poor public school performance. Hillary Clinton used three effective grenades: his tax returns, the birther issue and support for the Iraq war.
Moderator Lester Holt helped Mrs. Clinton on the birther deal, and Trump made the mistake of over-explaining. He should have simply shrugged off questions designed to trap him, refocusing on Secretary Clinton's many ethical problems. If Donald Trump really wants to be president, he must put frivolities aside and concentrate on three realities: First, the federal government is hurting the poor and working class by punishing the private sector with crazy regulations and high taxation. Second, that Hillary Clinton's acceptance of Barack Obama's ISIS policy allows those savages to continue their terrorism at will. And third, the Democratic Party's embrace of grievance is pitting Americans against one another, demonizing the police and creating an environment where the USA is portrayed as oppressive not the land of opportunity it really is.
If Trump would hammer home those three themes he might distinguish himself in a way that would attract voters currently skeptical of him. Finally, Bret Baier had a wise comment today. He said that if the polls continue to build for Trump after the debate, the Clinton campaign will be in serious trouble. Many online surveys are boosting Trump's debate performance, but both candidates can do much better. And to win the White House they will have to.