St Louis, MO: The second US Presidential debate took place at a University named for the father of the American nation, the original patriot, the man who freed the US from British tyranny and helped build the foundations of the world’s most powerful nation. On the stage were the two people aiming to become the 44th person to take the office inaugurated by George Washington, and they talked about… Pussy.
Yes, 227 years since the first US President took office, the man aiming to be his successor had to defend himself over comments he’d made essentially endorsing sexual assault. To be fair to Trump, he didn’t do a terrible job. He did apologise (badly) but he then moved on quickly; never dwell on a point that makes you look weak. For her part, Clinton didn’t exactly go in hard on the sex tape. She has largely stayed above the personal insults that form the bedrock of Trump’s campaign (and, seemingly, very existence), though one supposes she doesn’t want to fall foul of the old adage that if you are debating an idiot it is foolish to allow yourself to be dragged down to their level, they will only beat you with experience.
Compared to the first debate, which was about as even as a fight between a bald eagle and a polio-stricken mouse, this was a far more robust contest. Trump looked more prepared, and significantly more composed. Despite a town hall format that is only really good for amusing screenshots making the candidates look like they’re crooning to one another, both participants did what they needed to do. Trump righted a campaign that has spent two weeks looking more and more like Leonardo Di Caprio drowns at the end of it, while Clinton essentially stood pat, because at this point her strategy is basically making her own points and then waiting for her opponent to immolate himself on the pyre of his own stupidity.
Where Trump did win was on the email scandal. He knows this plays well with the public, and that Clinton is still very weak on the issue; she’s never come up with a good line against it. At the debate, he managed to use it to rebut Clinton’s obviously rehearsed attack on him for never apologising to the many people he has offended during this campaign. What Trump also managed was to provide us with was a rare glimpse into what his potential administration may do, as he announced he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate (and jail) his opponent for the office of President.
This is not without precedent in global politics mind you; many world leaders have used their political power to jail those who oppose them. Vladimir Putin, Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chavez, the list goes on. But do you know what those guys all have in common? They’re all winners. None of them ever lost an election, they’ve always had the support of their people. Why shouldn’t the Donald emulate those guys? Sure, it may require an example of executive overreach unparalleled in American history, but if that’s what it takes to win and keep winning then Trump should follow in the footsteps of the masters.
It’s not hard to imagine that George Washington, watching on from his mansions of rest, must be somewhat restless at the prospect of an inhabitant of his office exploiting the powers he sought to constrain throughout his term of his office. It became clear that Trump, though this debate was a success for him, is hardly a man to defend the benign influence of good laws under a free government, and that is likely what Clinton will exploit until the next time they go toe-to-toe.