Monday, October 10, 2016

Trump Punches and Paces, Clinton Stands Firm, Policy Takes Backseat

If there was any indication this would be one of the more cynical and disturbingly nasty debates in America’s history, it started hours before the Town Hall presidential debate when Donald Trump paraded four of former President Bill Clinton’s accusers in front of a flashy news conference. This after a 72 hours utterly dominated by released tapes from just a decade ago that exposed Trump’s open misogyny and sexual hostility toward women. 

Yes, Trump was going to do whatever it took to will that exposure away. He declared some five times that it was just ‘locker room talk’ during the debate itself. He even managed to bring those Bill Clinton accusers into the debate hall to further create a hostile environment and provide more deflection and chaos, smoke and fire, as a backdrop for what should have been the time for the People to have their moment to be heard by the two major party candidates.
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The first question directly addressed that elephant in the room, how the tenor and tone of the presidential campaign was affecting today’s youth. Hillary answered the question. Donald did not. The moderators called him out on outright dodging answering the question and followed up with a direct question regarding the leaked tapes. He juxtaposed this with violent terrorist imagery, saying there was no comparison, “It’s just words.” 

From there, Hillary laid out a very eloquent and thoughtful analysis of how Trump wasn’t fit to be President of the United States, from his words, actions, and his behavior throughout his adult life but more specifically by his words throughout his campaign against women, minorities, POWs, and people with disabilities. 

Trump punched back fairly consistently and incessantly throughout the debate, not allowing for much, if any, of a policy discussion. He accused Hillary of much, which fact-checkers have summarily refuted. The one point of attack he was accurate about was the deleting of some 30,000 emails.
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At one point, and quite possibly the most disturbing response he gave throughout the 90 minutes, was his threat to use the government to prosecute her and send her to prison if he were to become President. This obviously sells well in the rabid Republican and Trump base. However, any student of American and world history would know that in America we don’t throw in jail our political enemies. That’s something they do in Russia, China, Iran.

This willingness of Trump to abuse power should concern every American.

Hillary stood toe-to-toe with Trump throughout every attack. She actually bothered to listen to each voter’s question. She mostly used the question in her answer, including the voter’s name. She strived to stay out of the way when Trump was answering, or rambling, which he did from time to time. Trump, however, was pacing the floor, huffing and puffing, throughout the 90-minute debate. 

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Hillary was the clear winner. She showed extreme capability to withstand a barrage of insults, attacks, many of which were outright lies, insults on her family, and denigrating to her life’s work. She was interrupted countless times by Trump.

It was truly a sad display of democracy and a sad display of decorum and debate. 

What really lost out last night was an honest and sober exchange of ideas, policies, principles, and ideals. Somewhere in the last few decades, some of the far right and the far left have truly lost their way. They enjoy reveling and supporting others that tear down their political enemies. To hell with the facts, to hell with progress, and to hell with actually having a discussion where we listen to one another. 

This is not the way a democracy works. 

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Donald Trump deserves some credit. He has galvanized a great deal of energy and has garnered an extreme amount of attention on this election. However, it has come at a grave cost. Civility, decency, and reason are withering away. 

Trump’s diehard supporters will love his behavior last night. That’s the way they talk about politics and Hillary Clinton all the time. That’s not how anything actually ever gets accomplished in this country, though. 

I feel much sympathy for the children growing up and watching all of this unfold in front of them. Having a grown adult behave like the biggest, baddest bully on the grade-school playground is not something most reasonable adults applaud and support with votes and encouragement.

What are we teaching our children and grandchildren? 

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