Neither presidential candidate is fit to be the leader of the so-called free world. Both have skeletons falling out from multiple closets and are just about the most unpopular candidates in US history. Rather than debate serious issues of concern to voters, they focus on slandering the other while their respective campaigns are shoveling up as much factual and fabricated dirt as they can unearth. Sheer disgust is the overriding emotion of many observers on the outside looking in.
In a perfect world, next month’s vote should be cancelled and US President Barack Obama asked to stay on for another year — this can’t happen of course. There is no such precedent and without doubt voter fatigue would quickly set in.
American presidents aren’t required to be perfect models of propriety; after all, they are politicians, not men of the cloth. The very least, once in office they are expected to be reasonably decent role models capable of garnering respect from the population as well as foreign governments they seek to influence. For example, Obama was forgiven for having smoked pot in his young days and former US president Bill Clinton, although subjected to an impeachment process for lying under oath about his dalliance with an intern, succeeded in retaining his popularity. The trouble with the current rivals is that in different ways they are way beyond the pale. In terms of lacking, sadly old fashioned, personal dignity and decorum, one is worse than the other. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s female accusers are suddenly emerging from the woodwork in droves.
In light of the leaked recording of his despicable ‘locker room’ conversation with Billy Bush (George W. Bush’s cousin), their credibility has been bolstered by words out of the candidate’s own mouth. He writes them off as being fame-seeking liars who aren’t aesthetically up to his lofty standards — a defence ‘the basket of deplorables’ has conveniently swallowed. Yet, one is left to wonder what — or perhaps who, prompted NBC — to release the tape after 11 years and why the alleged abused women waited until just weeks before the ballot to publicise their stories? Notably senior members of the Bush family have jumped ship to declare their intention to give Hillary their vote.
The media has been devoting great swathes of air time to Trump to increase their ratings, while at the same time being consistently disparaging. Allegations made in the alternative press with regard to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s personal life never enter the mainstream. As Caitlin Flanagan notes in the Washington Post, “when [Bill] Clinton was confronting serious accusations of abuse, the country had a different attitude toward women who came forward with unverified [and often unverifiable] accounts of sexual assault. Clinton’s inner circle was able to dismiss the women... as crazies or trailer trash.”
Trump invited three of those women to the last debate in hopes of knocking Hilary off balance — a low even for him.
The Republican hierarchy is ultimately responsible for the current fiasco that’s dented America’s image, as well as Hillary’s descent into tit-for-tat muck-raking. What were they thinking when they anointed a loud-mouthed, vulgar showman, former casino owner as their candidate? Why would they even imagine a person like that would have an unblemished record? And how can evangelical Christians possibly reconcile their values with their support of Trump, whose conservative principles and religious leanings are contrived, just like his sudden empathy with the struggling working class? His donning of peaked caps and being seen relishing pizza does not make this billionaire one of them. One Christian preacher is scaring his following with hellfire and brimstone if they fail to vote for Trump.
Nevertheless, despite his character-failings, Trump’s characterisation of Clinton as ‘Crooked Hillary’ — isn’t that far off the mark. She’s been dogged by scandal after scandal for decades and her misrepresentation of why the US consulate in Benghazi was attacked and allegations that she funnelled weapons from Libya to extremists, should have been sufficient for the Democratic establishment to release its hand without the revelations of her illegal personal server and the thousands of missing emails. She voted for the invasion of Iraq, was instrumental in bringing down Muammar Gaddafi with disastrous consequences and cuddled the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt against the will of the people. On Syria, her policy is almost identical to Obama’s except that she would impose no-fly zones, she says, but how those would be achieved without incurring direct confrontation between the American and Russian militaries she’s yet to specify.
Ultimately, November 8 is a fight between the establishment/Wall Street/neocons and crazed racist, misogynist, mobs who’ve been brainwashed into believing Hillary was spawned by Lucifer. The liberal media is signalling a sure win for Clinton but that might be premature. The fat man is still singing and so are the roughly 40 per cent of Americans who support him with slavish fervour. Polls are notoriously wrong and it’s worth remembering that the deciding factor will be turn-out. Clinton’s backers are overwhelmingly unenthusiastic. Trump’s mobs are surging with passion; so it would be wrong to rule him out just yet. If there were ever a time that Americans were right to feel ashamed, that time is now.
Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.