The bottom line from Sunday night’s debate:
The nation lost.
We all lost.
This was a desultory 90-minute joust that makes it extremely difficult for the eventual winner of this presidential race to lift the nation and move us forward come January.
It was just plain depressing.
Close to 40 percent of this debate was spent on locker-room talk, alleged racism, presidential affairs, misuse of email, outright deception and refusals to release personal income taxes.
In-depth discussion of the issues? Nope.
“Stupidity.” “Dumbest deal.” “Lies.” “She’s all talk.” This forum was full of sixth-grade debate lines that made neither candidate look good.
“Believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart,” Donald Trump said at one point. “She has tremendous hatred.”
But Trump, who once again interrupted his rival multiple times and challenged the debate’s moderators over the fairness of their refereeing, came off worse. At one point, he disagreed with his own running mate over Syria.
At another, he threatened to investigate Clinton if he wins the presidency, a moment perhaps unprecedented in debate history.
In the wake of Friday’s release of an 11-year-old tape that had him talking in wildly aggressive terms about women, the stage was set for a forum that would dwell in the gutter.
And for far too much of the time, it did.
Hillary Clinton won this debate. She now appears to have the race in hand.
But Trump dragged her down Sunday night.
It was left to the final question of the night from a member of the audience to offer a respite from all the gloom. The question: Can you name a positive attribute about your opponent?
“His children,” Clinton said.
“She doesn’t quit. She’s doesn’t give up. I respect that,” Trump said.
The two declined to shake hands as the session began. But after a pause, they did at the end.
Still, the nation lost Sunday night.
We all did.