I love Donald Trump's presidential language:
The United States is a mess, the Middle East is a mess, NATO is a mess, and the Americans lose on everything.
But Mr. Trump, he has the great temperament, the winning temperament, and the stamina to steer this country out of all those messes! He can give us witness testimonials about what a wonderful guy he is, what beautiful businesses he has built (and bankrupted). Indeed, he is just the greatest.
Now that was important to include in a presidential debate, in case someone in the audience hadn't already learned that Donald thinks he's the greatest thing since grated cheese.
Ms. Clinton, on the other hand, doesn't have the right temperament, doesn't have any business ability, doesn't have judgment.
And luring the wealthy corporations to bring back their money to the United States would be beautiful, beautiful.
Now parse all that for me. Then ask yourselves if the media wouldn't have found such a language inappropriately fuzzy and inappropriately emotional had it come from the mouth of some other politician. Say, Hillary Clinton.
The whole debate was a hoot, a bit like the sound Hillary Clinton made when Donald Trump told us that she doesn't have the temperament, the judgment or the stamina to be the president of the United States. Perhaps that attack was based on the Republican code-book of always attacking your opponents at what their strengths are? Even if they are your own weaknesses?
So who won the debate? The general agreement is that Hillary Clinton did. I'm not quite sure what the basis of that judgment is, whether it is that she was better on facts* or future policies, or just the better debater, though I think that she won in all of those categories.
Two parts of the debate stuck to my mind:
First, Trump's insistence that Hillary Clinton, together with Barack Obama, created ISIS. That, by the way, caused some coffee to be spewed on my screen.
George Walker Bush would be the name that comes to mind if a particular American would be accused of enabling ISIS**, not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. It was our Georgie Porgie who poked a sleeping beehive with a stick and then ran away when the bees woke up. It was our Georgie Porgie who sent young Tea Party personnel over to Iraq to create a free market, it was our Georgie Porgie who destroyed the Iraqi army, without apparently knowing anything about the Shia-Sunni quarrels, and it was our Georgie Porgie who did all that without any understanding of what he got into.
To be quite honest, my research into ISIS, which I used for an earlier three-post series, taught me that the roots of ISIS are complicated, hard to eradicate and that it's quite possible that very few Western politicians really understand the size of the problem. But surely Trump's utterance serves as the most idiotic one ever.
Second, Trump's inability to properly counter Clinton's references to the way he had treated Alicia Machado, the Miss Universe of 1996. Trump loves judging women's bodies so much that he's been in the beauty pageant business for years.
The case of Ms. Machado was about her gaining weight during the year she was the ruling Miss Universe. According to Hillary Clinton, Trump's concern with that weight gain made him call Ms. Machado names:
"And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest -- he loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them -- and he called this woman 'Miss Piggy,' then he called her 'Miss Housekeeping' because she was Latina," Clinton had said.The point I want to make about all that is this: Trump knows that Clinton is accusing him of sexism and misogyny (with good evidence, I might add). So why didn't he prepare for something of this sort to come up in the debates? Is it because he didn't prepare for the debates at all, what with already being the greatest? Or is it because wimminfolk really do not matter in his mind?
To be completely fair, I should note that Trump did better in the first fifteen minutes or so, before his ramblings began. He also brought up one important issue, and that is the way the costs and benefits of globalization fall differently:
The costs of globalization have hit the American working classes much more than they have hit the middle classes or, goddess bless, the very rich (who largely benefit from globalization). Yet neither party has proposed anything that would truly work to compensate those workers who have lost their jobs in this country (especially in middle age, say), while others are enjoying cheaper foreign goods and services and firms increase their profits by locating abroad.
I credit Trump for stating the problem. His solutions to it are, however, gobbledygook. As are his solutions to most everything.
* Different sites check somewhat different assertions. Here are a few more fact check sites for you to peruse: CNN, USA Today, Politifact.
** The Syrian civil war might have happened even in the absence of the Iraq invasion, and regional and religious politics also pay the role. But it's also true that some within ISIS are fighting a grudge war against the West, with roots in the early crusades, and that those same theologians see both sides only in terms of religions. This does not negate the crucial and harmful role Western imperialism and greed for oil have had in creating the current situation. But no one person, not even Hillary Clinton!, can be seen as the architect of ISIS.