Saturday, October 1, 2016

Can't Believe I Watched The Whole Thing

My latest newspaper column:
These moments happen in life. You’re faced with a challenge up to which you fear you might not be. You call upon all of your strength and resolve, looking for something within yourself you’re not sure is there. On such occasions, you convince yourself there’s no choice but to go forward, take whatever comes. It’s the right thing. It’s life. We do what we must. 
So I watched the debate. 
Turns out a lifetime of accusations of everything from murder to fidelity has prepared Hillary Clinton for the likes of Donald Trump. I was wrong to think he could rattle her. Compared to his annoyance, her (mostly) calm was impressive.  It goes without saying, of course, that his supporters wouldn’t change their minds if he’d danced naked singing “I am the Walrus.” Nor could she have done anything to put off her committed voters. Our predictable opposing opinions don’t matter, though: the question is how “undecideds” were affected, along with those who’ve said they wouldn’t pay attention until the first debate. What did they make of it? More importantly: are people who’ve not yet made up their minds (hard to believe) the sort who’d truth-check the lies Trump told? To recognize how alarmingly unsuited he is for the presidency, even as it was there for the observing. 
Will they make the effort to discover that, though he denied it straight up, he really did say climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese? (His actual words: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.") Rather than accept his pretense, will they confirm that his only public comment before the Iraq invasion, when asked if he was for it, was, “Yeah, I guess so.” Or that the first public record of him stating his opposition was in 2004, well after the fact, when the calamity was apparent to everyone not named Bush or Cheney or employed by right-wing media. Will they gape at his claim of a non-existent endorsement by ICE? Or at his bass-ackwards concept of Chinese money and piggy banks? (But he understands finance!) 
Mr. Trump got a whoop from somewhere in the crowd when he non-sequitured that he’d release his tax returns when Hillary released those deleted emails. (How does one release deleted emails?) Secretary Clinton reminded him that being audited is a phony excuse for not releasing his taxes, suggesting the obvious: they must hold embarrassing information. Like not paying any. About which he bragged. After bemoaning deficits and crumbling infrastructure, things the rest of us pay for, because we’re citizens. Interviewed after the debate, he baldly denied that he’d said, mere moments earlier, that not paying taxes made him “smart.” 
Scorekeepers counted interruptions: Fifty-one times he interrupted her. Seventeen times she interrupted him. (Seventeen too many, if you ask me; but, under the circumstances, remarkably restrained.) 
The lies, though. If Hillary, like all politicians, has been known to stretch or fudge the truth in her favor, and if she’s occasionally had a “bullets in Bosnia” moment, Donald’s lies are a lifestyle choice. In the debate, the matchup wasn’t even close.  
The careful observer might intuit that there is much about Donald Trump that bothers me. But his lies are something truly unnatural. He repeats them when shown to be false. He denies statements that are on the record, continuously. What can it mean? Does he think so little of his supporters that he assumes they won’t notice, or care; or that they like him best when he’s lying? Does he believe that as words pass his lips, no matter how demonstrably false, they metamorphose into truth, because he’s The Donald? Whatever the explanation, “normal” isn’t on the list. 
In claiming his temperament is the best thing about him, “by far,” he did say one true thing. As an example, ex post debato, his campaign pointed to the fact that the serial adulterer hadn’t mentioned Hillary Clinton’s husband’s infidelities, demonstrating a keel most even. Amazing! No, at the debate we saw his true temperament: peckish, rude, repetitive, limacine, prevaricating, unprepared, thin-skinned in ways no president should be. And there’s thisBy his own words, that’s the best part of him. So, yikes. 
[Image source]


  1. I'm sure that more than a couple of Trump's supporters will puzzle over your suggestion that his temperament resembles a limousine.

    His supporters, those that know, really do not care about his lies. It has more to do with their hero bashing the establishment with some misogyny for seasoning. I find this passage from the Culture File feature in the October Atlantic, "Donald Trump, Sex Pistol - The punk-rock appeal of the GOP nominee", to be on-target:

    "There are nights when Trump, in his supreme orange confidence, is quite simply the worst stand-up comedian in the world, crashing and burning, really bombing, but fiercely applauded because with every misfiring bit and linguistic collapse he is sticking it to the enemy: the critics, the ironists, the middlebrows, the gentle teasers, the ideologues of taste, them. His people love to see this, to feel this happen. For the early punk bands, not being able to play their instruments was a mark of virtue—a blow against the elites, the puffy-haired technocrats with their pointless 12-minute guitar solos."

  2. Dr. Strangelove . . . what a delightful post. That last sentence: brilliant!!

    You must marry me at once.

  3. Alas, Anonymous, I am taken and cannot! But thank you for the thought.

  4. Nice to know this blog is useful. If not a source of insightful political commentary, then as a digital yenta.


  5. In an attempt to cover both alternative music and the debate recap...

    Try Courtney Barrnett (The artist also known as 'Corrnetto Barrnetto') from the season finale of the last season of SNL. Skip the yenta...There's some shit you just can't unhear. The CB3 KEXP performance is tight as well.

    So, now then, how did the debate go? Well, someone stole "The Great Pumpkins'" teleprompter and it went down hill from there. We all know how it went, even "Team Orange" knows. Rather than listen to Chris Mathews gloat, I tuned into FOX just as it ended to catch the initial response. I watched FOX till dinner time the next day (I did watch Morning Joe, but that was my only time away from FOX. For nearly 24 hours.)

    They were doing their best to trash Hillarys' performance and pump up 'Agent Orange's Warm Flatulence." Lame excuses for Trump and who could forget the Hannity money shot. It ended as fast as it started, because neither Hannity or Princess Cucurbita could find his wee wee. Mr. Drumpf is sending people to investigate. Hannity really really really seems to adore the legendary fall squash.

    For those that did not watch the debate, this is for you. If you want the deep nuances most people miss? This video is you. If you watch FOX and can only be less than 3 minutes away from a bathroom? This video is for you. It's only 3 minutes or so. This video is for you as well.

    The celebrity Family Feud skit is good too if you want a laugh.


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