Presidential candidates often come unstuck in these debates.
There is so much riding on them. The USA has never had a worse presidential candidate than Donald J Trump. George W Bush may have been the Forrest Gump of presidents but he was benevolent and well-informed compared to Trump. Trump weaves his wicked magic over the American body politic. He spews his hate filled rants over the airwaves. He stokes detestation of minorities in the United States. There is a lot of racial animus already without Trump aggravating the situation.
John McCain was a man of honour. No one doubts his physical courage or integrity. He was a conviction politician. His belief in certain principles was undoubted even by his most implacable opponents. McCain had the decency to say that Obama too was honourable. Just because McCain took a different view of issues from Obama did not cause McCain to cast aspersions on Obama’s probity. He also rebutted the claim that Obama is a Muslim – as if Obama being a Muslim would be a bad thing. Mitt Romney was a gent by comparison to Trump. He was restrained, polite and moderate. He believed in evidence based policies. He had some appeal to Democrats.
Trump Junior is a narcissistic loudmouth who is ignorant and proud of it. His egomania might be droll if it were not so deadly serious. He has a man who had shrieked that he would order his soldiers to deliberately kill civilians. Yes, he said he would target the relatives of terrorists. That is right. He would flagrantly break international human rights law. He would command his troops to kill babies and grandmothers. It would not be collateral damage it would be intentional. He has plumbed the depths of immorality. His a foul bastard.
Trump is an attack dog. His viciousness could backfire. I vainly hope this debate will give him enough rope to hang himself. These debates could be the end of him but I doubt it.
Let us look at the best case scenario. Trump comes out as a snarling, moronic, foul mouthed, swivel eyed foam flecked bigot. Hillary comes across as a measured, mature and sensible leader with vast experience and sound judgment. Her opponent’s histrionics and lack of knowledge undo him.
The trouble is Trump’s immature antics appeal to a certain constituency. I would have hoped only a small number of Americans find his invective appealing but I must not delude myself. The Donald will poll at least 40% on election day. He has been written off before. Elder statesmen of the Republican Party confidently predicted he would implode last year but he did not. His malevolent brand of hate mongering and jingoism has great allure for huge swathes of the American population. He is as divisive as he is pernicious. He urges Americans to detest their fellow citizens. Muslims and Hispanics are to be viewed with suspicion and not as American at all.
Donald Trump disseminated the myth that Obama was not born in the USA. He continued to spread that falsehood for years after it was proven to be bogus. He accepts no responsibility for this. He tried to pin it on Hillary. He was not man enough to apologise nor to issue the retraction in person. Surely the fact that he believed and repeated this flagrant lie for years shows he is stupid and /or grossly dishonest. But his supporters are so prejudice that no evidence of their idol’s wickedness or idiocy will shake them. There are many people with deeply entrenched prejudices. They find Trump’s toxic rhetoric deeply appealing. He scapegoats everyone but himself.
Trump is an immature egomaniac. He names things after himself: Trump Tower, trump steaks and the ill-fated Trump university. Only dictators name universities after themselves in their own lifetime.
Trump appeals to isolationism. He blames trade with China and not billionaires like himself for impoverishing Americans. How can the US prosper without Chinese commerce? That is not explained.
Trump wants to tear up the deal with Iran. He also wants to disengage from Middle Eastern conflicts. These are mutually exclusive goals.
Donald J Trump is extremely deceitful. Most people are embarrassed when the are exposed as saying something untruthful. He has no shame. He will shrug if off. For him the facts are neither here or there. He can make it up.
Hillary make make some misstep. She has ”misspoken” before about coming under sniper fire in Bosnia in the 1990s. She could come across as over rehearsed. Hillary Rodham Clinton has many scandals of her own relating to funding. The Justice Department’s report into her excoriated her for her serial dishonesties. She seems wooden and bland. Her heart is not in her oratory.
Hillary Clinton’s over prepared style might contrast badly with Trump extemporaneous outbursts. Hillary may be wooden but at least she has studied the situation.
Trump is a rodeo clown. He is a red neck millionaire on speed. He is malicious and has insulted the disabled. He is foully insulting to people who ask him probing questions.
The Christian fundamentalists are exposed for the bigots there are. Trump did not previously pretend to share their agenda. All of a sudden this braggart says ” no one knows more about the Bible than me.” He was pro abortion and is now against it. He still backs gay marriage he says but that does not deter many Christian extremists. If these people are really ethical and consistent they would swear off him for his bad language and his vulgar insults. He is on his third wife so he does not share the family values worldview. But they long since overlooked Newt Gingrich’s adultery.
Trump says that Hillary is abominable. He used to donate to her campaigns! He once regarded her as a friend. He has amnesia when it suits him. He claimed he was against the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan. He expressed admiration for Putin who is a war criminal. He called for outright torture and then backed down on that one. He is also a chicken hawk. He draft dodged but is now a war monger.
Trump has had many business failures despite his much vaunted business acumen.
He often contradicts himself. He was going to expel 11 000 000 undocumented workers even if they had done nothing wrong in decades. That policy was jettisoned. He was going to bar all Muslims from entering the USA. That was unworkable. How about diplomats? He said he would let in the Mayor of London.
For Trump this is a win-win situation. Even if he is wiped out in the election he has garnered more publicity for his brand than he could have dreamt of. He is a reality TV star. He always courts controversy. He does this by extreme emotion and cruel invective. His diatribe against Muslims and Hispanics appeal to more people than it repels. He is as wicked as can be.
Expect some verbal pyrotechnics. Much though I loathe Hillary for her advocacy for crimes against the Palestinians she is a far better candidate than Trump. It is hard to know what to expect from Trump as he is wildly inconsistent. Whatever he does it will not be benign.