Ian Payne is Leading Britain's Conversation.
10 October 2016, 18:42
If ever a fight did not live up to its hype, it was this one.
The build-up was extraordinary. The Donald sought to take charge of the accusations of misogyny that had been levelled at him all week by holding an extraordinary and unexpected press conference with four women who presumably had a tale to tell of their treatment at the hands of Bill Clinton.
Trump announced them one by one, apart from the lady on the end whose name he had presumably forgotten. Apart from one room-silencing allegation of rape, the others failed to fully explain why they were there. Perhaps the American audience is already familiar with their stories.
The pre-publicity pegged this as the battle of the century, an epic Rock 'em Sock 'em, paint the walls with blood, drag out the carcass of the loser, bare knuckle smack down.
What we got was more of the same with better hair and clothes. The hair was courtesy of a glamour-puss moderator called Anderson Cooper, whose steely, precision-crafted luminous white barnet was so bright it could be used to signal to life on other planets.
The better dressed was Hillary. In the previous debate, she looked like she was auditioning for the role of lead baton twirler in a Disney Parade. This time, she sported a much more toned down look that was not so hard to gaze at without sunglasses. She was perfectly presented like she had just come out of a box.
Donald shuffled on like a family fridge had been cloaked in a suit that he had been left in the garden overnight. His tie hung down to about where his knees must be, it is hard to tell because he does not seem to bend them.
It was a giant red arrow pointing to the area he would like us to think that his Donaldhood ends.
There was no microphone malfunction this time. The contestants hand-held their mikes, so the sound they made was all of their own doing.
Hilary made that whiny nasal noise that Bill has had to get used to, Donald wheezed and sniffed and gasped for breath like a dirty phone call.
His nose appears to have been squashed so much that air can't get through. Maybe Robert De Nero had punched him in the face.
The first question was of the "locker room" sex banter that dominated the media this week, despite having been recorded over ten years ago. Was Trump aware that he had bragged that he sexually assaulted women?
Donald's frown deepened to a depth to which submarines can't dive. He explained that, no of course he did not, it was all a mistake, that didn't happen and if it did he was very sorry, he apologises, it is not who he is, no-one has more respect for women than he, his respect for women is tremendously tremendous.
Hillary politely disagreed but did not hang on the topic so much that her husband's shenanigans might come to dominate the proceedings.
Trump got applause for saying Hillary should be ashamed for concentrating on something that happened ten years ago, and then proceeded to criticise her for things that she had done ten years ago.
He glowered and roamed the stage like an ageing boxer, gripped the back of the stool he didn't sit on, and scrapped with Hillary and both moderators simultaneously.
He could pick a fight in solitary confinement.
They weren't giving him enough time, they did not interrupt Hillary like they did him, it was three against one...the sort of whiny school-boy complaining that might get him a better deal in a business negotiation but was not very attractive in high definition in peoples' living rooms.
Hillary, meanwhile, perched attentively on her stool when listening, and ran through the whole gamut of the polished professional politician.
She addressed the audience questioners by name, gave her answers to their face and smiled without pause. Her facial muscles must be strong enough to pick up a car battery.
The night was light on detail, policy, plans and direction.
Those that had already made up their minds will probably not have changed their voting intentions. There was no great snafu, nothing that would drop a jaw in a ten second clip on YouTube.
The last question was the best of the night. Was there anything about the other candidate that they admired?
Trump was asked to go first but Hillary jumped in, giving Donald time to think. She could not bring herself to admire anything about her opposite number except his children. If in doubt, praise the kids.
Trump pulled a rabbit out of the hat by appearing the more magnanimous at the last by crediting her as a fighter who does not give up.
Who knew he could be so presidential?