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The Presidential Debates Have Told Voters Effectively Nothing

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Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump. (Image: Caricatures by DonkeyHotey on Flickr through Creative Commons)

How many debates have we endured? There have been so many I've lost count. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think there were 12 GOP debates during the primaries, five for the Democrats, plus one town hall, one vice-presidential debate and three presidential debates.

Geeze Louise, talk about overkill.

Might not have been as unbearable if we had learned anything that could have helped voters make a decision. But that was not to be.

Having said that, to be entirely fair to Chris Wallace, the Fox News host who moderated Wednesday night's debate, for the most part he did a stellar job. He was able to control the audience and, at least for the first 30 to 40 minutes, managed to ask both candidates tough and pointed questions (not that either of them answered them). But he did force them to explain their views and policies more clearly than we've heard in any other debate -- giving voters some substantive issues, and differences, to ponder.

Alas, it didn't last ...

Any gains Donald Trump made in the first half of the debate were lost when, by refusing to say whether or not he'd accept the election results, he essentially told the world he doesn't trust that democracy works.

Great coming from a man who might become president of the free world.

My personal fave came during one of the many zingers Hillary Clinton managed to lob at Trump. It was when, in an effort to demonstrate how he always blames the system when things don't go his way, she said that "he even said the Emmy's were rigged against him when The Apprentice lost" -- and Donald leaned into the mic and interrupted her saying, "I shoulda won."

After each debate the burning question always is, "who won the debate?" Here's my take on it:

The real winners are the networks who carried the debates. They attracted larger audiences than they probably ever have or ever will again.

debate
Donald Trump gestures as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton looks on during the final presidential debate. (Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Sadly, the real losers are the American people. At a time when the world is in a total mess, when the United States is dealing with critical issues on every front, when neither candidate is beloved and knowing what their vision is has never been more important, 22 debates later here's all we know:

Donald Trump has some kind of a breathing problem that causes him to snort under pressure.

It is as easy to get under his skin as it is to take candy from a baby.

He's rude and interrupts all the time.

He can't keep his temper under control.

He lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies. And lies again.

He is a loose cannon who refuses to prepare for anything.

He is woefully under qualified for the job and shows no interest in learning, not that this is a deterrent for his supporters.

All we really know, almost a year and a half into this 2016 presidential race, is that both candidates have serious character flaws.

Hillary Clinton is the poster child for "grace under pressure." She may be seething inside but it never shows.

She has a lovely smile, which she does whenever she's being attacked.

She is extremely disciplined.

The facts she quotes are mostly true, but she does fib, exaggerate or under estimate some of the time.

She does her homework.

She is "experienced."

She has done a much better job of explaining her policies and plans throughout the debates than Donald has -- an undeniable fact even for those who won't vote for her -- not that they'd ever admit it.

I guess what I'm saying is, all we really know, almost a year and a half into this 2016 presidential race, is that both candidates have serious character flaws, and one has tons of experience and the other has none.

No wonder that even at this late date (slightly over two weeks until election day) so many voters are still undecided.

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