The Second Debate

The level of civility in American politics continues to sink into the muck and mire with our 2016 presidential campaigns. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are in a cage fight for the White House. We’ve been subjected to a shocking spectacle that out-shames just about anything we’ve ever seen. They’ve lowered the bar, set a new standard for base behavior, and turned political discourse into tabloid theater.

I don’t think it’s all Hillary’s fault. She’s a calm, cool, controlled bureaucrat who’s done this sort of thing before. She is, first and foremost, a public servant. The very fact that she’s been around for so long, and held so many offices, practically guarantees she’ll have made mistakes and bad decisions, not unlike all the MEN who’ve held similar positions. (Is there anyone who made more mistakes and bad decisions than George W. Bush?) Hillary was born to run for president, and she might even have been born to serve as president. She’s just trying to do her thing to get elected.

She is forced, however, to respond to the savage barbs, the bald-faced lies, the public humiliations thrown her way by The Donald, who has never served the public in any way, shape or form; who has zero experience with the legislative process; who has not paid federal income tax in 20 years; who refuses to release his tax returns, and who … well, the list goes on. He is not a nice man. In fact, he is not even what I consider to be a conservative, or even a Republican. He espouses no real conservative viewpoint, and he has turned on his fellow Republicans (who are daily withdrawing their support). He is not a “conservative Christian;” he is in no sense fiscally or socially conservative, because none of what he espouses falls in line with any sort of policy narrative. He has not put forward ONE VALID OR COMPREHENSIBLE POLICY POSITION. He is The Donald – out for himself, representing himself, speaking only for himself. There is no Republican in this race. It’s a joke for Republicans to consider him their nominee – he has rejected his own party outright.

Yes, the second debate was ugly, and sordid, and could have been a whole lot worse. It could have devolved into an all-out free-for-all, what with The Don looming over Hillary’s shoulder the whole time, pacing like a caged animal – or a sexist pig forced to let a woman speak. Trump informed Hillary that he would have her jailed if he were in charge of the law, while denying his “grab-em-by-the-pussy” remark could be construed as the words of a sexual deviant or predator. (To defend himself against such charges – the whole Billy Bush tape thing had just gotten out – he dredged up a bunch of Bill Clinton accusers from 25 years ago, to remind us all of “just how bad” the Clintons are when it comes to women. He hid behind them during a press conference in a kind of “rape shield,” and threatened to put them in the same family box with the Clintons – just to see what would happen.)

Look, we all know the Clintons are … not the greatest people in the world. We know about and remember Bill’s transgressions in 1998-99. We know he was impeached. We know, we know, we know. It was a national nightmare. We don’t need Trump to bring it all back up. It’s not news. The Clintons know how to defend themselves – in fact, Hillary didn’t even address any of the charges. She tried her hardest to focus (boringly) on policy and her vision for the nation. Trump wallowed in the muck. His whole defense is, “I know you are but what am I?” This is childishness of the highest (or lowest) order. He showed, again, without a shadow of a doubt, that he CANNOT be elected president. Nope. M-m. No way, no how.

I get a little  tired of people (mostly in the press) equating her performance with his. “Ew, they both were terrible!” No, she was good, and he was terrible. Hillary handled herself with grace and even humor during the entire televised ordeal, during which very little of actual substance was advanced. When a woman in the audience asked a question, Hillary replied, brightly, “Are you a teacher?” She purposefully quoted Michelle Obama in saying, “When they go low, you go high,” as she refused to respond to some of Trump’s scummier tirades. She never even attempted to defend her family, which to me wasn’t  bad thing – it was clear she thought such remarks were beneath them. And she was right. Why give Trump the satisfaction of turning a public forum on America’s future into a soap opera?

Personally, I’m tired of hearing about Hillary’s fucking emails. Bush and Cheney “lost” a lot of emails themselves, I’ve heard. I’m more interested in why Trump is intentionally withholding the release of his tax returns. Hell, he hasn’t even released them in light of the New York Times’ damning leaks. Hillary won’t be perfect as president – who is? – but look, the Nineties were a pretty great time for us – the economy was percolating, and we were in relative peace. The world will be much calmed with her at the wheel. I simply don’t want to see this country, this planet, thrown into turmoil because a bunch of malcontents elected a misanthrope. Aren’t we better than that?

 

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