The greatest Chris Wallace of all time is the late Notorious B.I.G., but the son of 60 Minutes icon Mike Wallace has solidified himself as #2 in the rankings. Quite simply, the moderator for the final presidential debate reminded America that our candidates can actually talk about issues once in a while.
The Supreme Court discussion in particular was a chance for them to spell out clearly what they believe and where they differ, for the most part like two grownups trying to convince other grownups to elect them to the most powerful office in the world. (I know, crazy, right?)
Additionally, the Fox News Sunday host—and registered Democrat—was the first moderator who got both candidates to generally accept that they didn’t need to continually interrupt each other but could answer questions then wait a whole minute or two for their chance to talk once more. (Breakthrough!) Yes, a single member of the media doing his job made it possible to feel a little better about 2016’s exercise in dysfunction—it also made the post-debate discussions all the more hilarious by comparison: Seriously, CNN may have more analysts on one panel (nine!) than actual viewers.
So, trailing in the polls and in the midst of taking a controversial position that would headline most media coverage of this final, pivotal debate… Trump was still hung up on the fucking Amazing Race.
This isn’t to say it was a perfect night—as the evening went on Trump began to ignore Wallace more and more, while Clinton made no attempt to answer his questions on a few occasions—but it generally felt like a valid way to help us pick our next leader and not just 90 minutes of nightmarish discomfort, à la Debate #2.
Of course, the return to relative normality made the moments of madness stand out, whereas it was easy to lose them in the shuffle during earlier installments. Need I remind you, we’ve had a presidential debate in which a candidate promised to jail his opponent and a primary debate in which that same candidate defended his penis. Whatever our political affiliations, surely we as a nation can rejoice in the fact we are no longer having heated exchanges over the size or lack thereof of the Trump genitals.
The final debate featured another doozy and, to the surprise of absolutely no one except possibly himself, it came from Trump. After Wallace made a point of noting Trump’s running mate Mike Pence said that he and Trump “would absolutely accept the results of this election” and Trump’s daughter Ivanka would as well, he asked the obvious question: Would Trump?
Here’s what followed.
There are two key takeaways in this three-minute clip. The first, which has been much discussed, comes at 2:07. After Wallace has mentioned America’s tradition of the “peaceful transition of power”—which includes concessions from candidates as different as Republican Richard Nixon in 1960 and Democrat Al Gore in 2000—Trump declares “I’ll keep you in suspense.” Clinton immediately terms this remark “horrifying.”
But the true lunacy doesn’t come until 2:44. While listing a variety of things Trump lost (and whined about), Clinton mentions The Apprentice losing the Emmy three years in a row and Trump insisting that the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences was rigged.
To which Trump interrupts at 2:52: “I shoulda gotten it.”
So, trailing in the polls—something he once talked and bragged about endlessly—and in the midst of taking a controversial position that would headline most media coverage of this final, pivotal debate… Donald Trump was still hung up on the fucking Amazing Race.
Less than three weeks to go, people.