• Mark Ralston / AP

    Trump Time Capsule #145: 'Nasty Woman'

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    With two and a half weeks to go, the debate phase of the competition is at last at its end. In real time last night I did an endless tweet-storm commentary whose beginning you can find here, and that wound up this way:

    Most of what I thought, I said at the time. But to summarize:

    1) Predictability. To my relief, most of the expert-forecasts I quoted in my debate preview piece matched what actually occurred.

    The match-up really did turn out to be an extreme contrast in every level—intellectual and rhetorical styles, bearing on stage, what each candidate talked about and didn't. What Jane Goodall foresaw about Trump's primate-dominance moves actually took place, when he was free to roam the stage in debate #2. As his fallen rivals from the Republican primaries assumed, Trump faced much greater challenges in these head-to-head debates than he had in the crowded-podium prelims. Back then, he could chime in with an insult whenever he wanted and otherwise just stay quiet and roll his eyes. In the head-to-head round, especially the last debate, he struggled to fill his allotted time with details on any topic and fell back on slogans from his stump speech. Also predictably, Hillary Clinton was as prepared as she could be and barely put a foot wrong.

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  • AP

    In the Age of Trump, No Wonder Republicans Miss William F. Buckley

    The conservative thinker's work is a reminder of how intellectually self-satisfied politicians and cable-news have become.

    William F. Buckley Jr. could have made Donald Trump quiver with impotent rage. This is a guy who sent Ayn Rand postcards in liturgical Latin just to make her mad, and then bragged about it in her obituary. In part because of his trollish panache, the founder of National Review and longtime host of the television show Firing Line was a conservative mascot in life, and he has become mythologized in death. The 2016 election has made it clear that no one quite like Buckley is working in media today: Republicans are hurting for a cocksure slayer of pseudo-conservative invaders.

    No wonder two Buckley retrospectives have come out this October. Open to Debate, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology media-studies professor Heather Hendershot, examines Buckley's tenure on Firing Line and the diverse ideologies represented on the show. A Torch Kept Lit, edited by the Fox News correspondent James Rosen, chronicles notable obituaries written by WFB, as Buckley's fans often call him. Both indulge nostalgia in their own way, but their yearning points to something real: In American politics, and specifically in political media, quality debate has seemingly withered. The presidential election has been an 18-month-long series of lows for civil discourse, culminating in the insult-laden, nearly-impossible-to-follow presidential debates.

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  • Hillary Clinton stands at the lectern during the third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

    Clinton's Unapologetic Defense of Abortion Rights

    Rarely have presidential nominees declared, without qualification, that it's a woman's right to choose.

    Even in a presidential campaign that has become so intensely focused on gender, there was something surreal about watching Hillary Clinton's response to a question about abortion in Wednesday night's debate.

    Here was the first woman nominated by a major party for the United States presidency, standing on the debate stage in "suffragette white," and talking in no uncertain terms about her strong commitment to protecting a woman's right to "make the most intimate, most difficult in many cases, decisions about her health care that one can imagine."

    Democrats are expected to support abortion rights, of course, but that support is often couched with carefully hedged language. This is an understandable impulse, given how divisive the issue of abortion remains.

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  • Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

    Trump and Clinton Enter the Homestretch: The Latest Updates

    The candidates are back on the campaign trail, following the third, and final, debate on Wednesday night.

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  • Reuters

    Trump's Worst Answer Will Also Be His Downfall

    Trump's refusal to say he would accept the election results will ensure negative coverage for the final three weeks of the election, and with good reason.

    At times during tonight's debate, Donald Trump seemed controlled, succinct, even prepared.

    It didn't matter. In an instant, he lost the debate and blew his chance of using it to turn around his sinking campaign.

    That instant came when Trump refused to say he would respect the outcome of next month's vote.

    Barring some massive unforeseen news, that comment will dominate political conversation in the coming days. By next week, it will be all anyone remembers about tonight. And for good reason. A major party nominee suggesting he won't concede defeat in a presidential election he has clearly lost was, until Trump came along, unthinkable. Had Al Gore taken that position in 2000, the United States might not be a functioning democracy today. If Trump's position becomes the new normal–if future candidates refuse to respect the voters' will–America may not remain one. Democracies require public legitimacy for their survival. When powerful actors withhold that legitimacy, the system crumbles.

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  • sketchblog/flickr

    Masters of Love

    Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.

    Every day in June, the most popular wedding month of the year, about 13,000 American couples will say "I do," committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on this earth.

    Except, of course, it doesn't work out that way for most people. The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction. Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages, as psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book The Science of Happily Ever After, which was published earlier this year.

    Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the 1970s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates. Worried about the impact these divorces would have on the children of the broken marriages, psychologists decided to cast their scientific net on couples, bringing them into the lab to observe them and determine what the ingredients of a healthy, lasting relationship were. Was each unhappy family unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy claimed, or did the miserable marriages all share something toxic in common?

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  • Carlos Barria / Reuters

    The Most Irresponsible Thing Ever Said in a Presidential Debate

    Donald Trump refuses to accept the legitimacy of the election he's trying to win.

    With his campaign flailing in the final stretch of the race, Donald Trump refused to endorse the legitimacy of the presidential election during Wednesday night's presidential date, telling moderator Chris Wallace that he could not commit to recognizing its results.

    "I will look at it at the time," the Republican nominee said, adding, "I'll keep you in suspense."

    Blaming the media for slanted coverage and saying that his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, should not have been allowed to run for president, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transition, even as Wallace tried to explain to him that it was a bedrock principle of American government.

    "This is how Donald Trump thinks," Clinton said. "It is funny, but it is also really troubling. This is not how our democracy works. We have been around for 240 years. We have had free and fair elections. We have accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election."

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  • Francois Nel / Getty

    'Nasty': A Feminist History

    On Wednesday, Trump employed the adjective to insult his opponent. What he didn't realize was that the word has long been a rallying cry.

    After Donald Trump referred to Hillary Clinton, during Wednesday's final presidential debate, as "a nasty woman," many of Clinton's fellow ladies took it upon themselves to make an announcement: They were nasty, too. Just as nasty—maybe even more nasty—than the woman Trump had attempted to denigrate, via a weaponized mutter, before a live audience of millions of people.

    Soon, the hashtags #nastywomen and #IAmANastyWoman trended on Twitter. The website nastywomengetshitdone.com got passed around, mostly by people delighted by the fact that the URL, via some hasty behind-the-scenes maneuvering, now leads to Hillary Clinton's campaign website. The Huffington Post asked its readers, with only a trace of irony, "Are you a nasty woman? Let us know."

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  • Tom Pennington / Getty Images

    The Mind of Donald Trump

    Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity—a psychologist investigates how Trump's extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency.

    In 2006, Donald Trump made plans to purchase the Menie Estate, near Aberdeen, Scotland, aiming to convert the dunes and grassland into a luxury golf resort. He and the estate's owner, Tom Griffin, sat down to discuss the transaction at the Cock & Bull restaurant. Griffin recalls that Trump was a hard-nosed negotiator, reluctant to give in on even the tiniest details. But, as Michael D'Antonio writes in his recent biography of Trump, Never Enough, Griffin's most vivid recollection of the evening pertains to the theatrics. It was as if the golden-haired guest sitting across the table were an actor playing a part on the London stage.

    "It was Donald Trump playing Donald Trump," Griffin observed. There was something unreal about it.

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  • Rick Wilking / Reuters

    Clinton Nukes Trump's Remaining Chances

    The Democratic nominee threw her rival's own words back at him, to illustrate his unsuitability for the office he seeks.

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