Wednesday's third and highly anticipated GOP debate in Colorado was, as expected, pretty entertaining. In part this was because it brought the spotlight back to the candidate who loves it the most: The Donald (duh). Throughout much of the night, the presidential hopeful gave a typically Trump-esque performance, shooting many of his trademark looks at his fellow candidates, dropping a few one-liners along the way, and doling out that special brand of bravado that's made him The Donald Americans either love to love or love to hate. And when it came time to sign off, Trump's closing statement was equally predictable — except for one final note. He reminded us all of just what a rock-solid negotiator he is, and how well that would serve him in the presidency.
When Trump started his closing, it seemed like we were rewatching his presidential announcement speech all over again. "Our country doesn't win anymore," Trump declared (for what seems like the umpteenth time). "We used to win, we don't win anymore. We lose on trade, we lose with ISIS, we lose with one of the worst deals I've ever seen negotiated of any kind — that's our recent deal with Iran."
And then, as he's known to do, The Donald started to ramble, by commenting yet again on just how long CNBC wanted to make the third debate — and how he came to the rescue of all of us:
Let me give you one quick example: These folks, CNBC, they had it down to three, three-and-a-half hours. I just read today in The New York Times, $250,000 for a 30-second ad. I went out and said, it's ridiculous, I could stand up here all night. Nobody wants to watch three-and-a-half or three hours; it was a big sacrifice, and I have to hand it to Ben. We called Ben, he was with me 100 percent. We called in, we said that's it, we're not doing it. They lost a lot of money, everybody said it couldn't be done. Everybody said it was going to be three hours, three-and-a-half hours, including them, and in about two minutes I renegotiated it down to two hours so we can get the hell out of here. Not bad. And I'll do that with the country. We will make America great again, and I thank you.
The billionaire's remarks caused more then a few eye-rolls on Twitter, where it didn't take long for the criticism to roll in:
By now, we're pretty used to hearing Trump talk about himself ad nauseam. But his lines about us "not winning anymore" and "needing to make our country great again" are starting to get seriously tired. He said the same thing during his closing at the first debate:
The country is serious trouble. We don't win anymore. We don't beat China in trade ... We can't do anything right. Our military has to be strengthened, our vets have to be taken care of. We have to end Obamacare, and we have to make our country great again, and I will do that.
The Donald's closing during the second debate also ended in a similar fashion: With sweeping, over-generalized statements about just how terribly America is doing, and by drilling home the notion that everyone else is beating us at our own game, and we've been blissfully unaware of that fact for far too long. But it also came with a surprising dose of humility, too.
If I become president, we will do something really special. We will make this country greater than ever before. We'll have more jobs, we'll have more of everything. We were discussing disease, we were discussing all sorts of things tonight, many of which will just be words, it'll just pass on. I don't want to say politicians ... all talk, no action, but a lot of what we talked about is words and it'll be forgotten very quickly. If I'm president, many of the things that we discussed tonight will not be forgotten. We'll find solutions. The world will respect us, they will respect us like never before, and I have to say it's a great honor to be here tonight.
But while Trump may have rightly railed against "all talk, no action" politics on Sept. 16, it's hard to ignore that he hasn't exactly being very specific about what he's bringing to the table himself. After all, aside from a ton of one-liners and promises to "make America great again," what have we really learned about how Trump plans to fix America?
We've already heard from experts who say that Trump's immigration plan would be economically crippling and logistically impossible, considering what it would actually take to deport 11 million immigrants from the U.S. who are currently working, and contributing to the economy. And then he says he wants to build a wall. A wall that experts say would cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Considering the fact that the U.S. has already spent some $7 billion building fences along the same border, it's not clear how a wall would be any different or more efficient, let alone economical.
And speaking of taxes: Trump's tax reform plan, while ambitious and targeted at cutting taxes for the poor, has some critics scratching their heads. "Some of what Mr. Trump has done in his press conference is just sell us on one of the better features of what our income tax already does," said Alan Cole, an economist at the Tax Foundation, in an interview with CNN. "It will probably add to the number of people who don't have to pay any income tax. That was already true of many people and he's just expanding the number of people."
For some watching Wednesday, Trump's performance may have finally proven that he's much more than just the loudest voice in his party at the moment. After all, he did turn in a slightly more subdued performance. But for plenty of others, Trump's murky policies, less-than-PC speaking style, and lack of experience in office still leave us with the same concerns we had before — which sure makes it harder to picture him sitting in the Oval Office come 2017.