What last night’s US presidential debate told usby Andrew Stuttaford / October 10, 2016 / Leave a comment
The most significant words in last night’s US presidential debate came right towards the end, and they will have ended any hopes in what passes for the Republican leadership that Donald Trump might somehow magically, marvellously just go away.
The two candidates were asked to pick out something that they respected about the other. Hillary Clinton replied that the talents of Trump’s “incredibly able and devoted” children “[say] a lot about Donald” (implication: there was nothing she respected about The Donald himself). Trump framed his response as a compliment to Clinton, but, as usual, he was really talking about himself:
“I will say this about Hillary… she does fight hard and she doesn’t quit and she doesn’t give up and I consider that to be a very good trait.”
It was never likely that Trump, a man unable to contemplate losing at anything, would stand down and it was never certain what would happen if he did, but with that observation he made it clear that, despite the worst week or so that any Republican or Democratic nominee for the presidency has ever endured, The Donald will plug on.
Following as it did a press conference (of sorts) that Trump had arranged for a number of women who had allegedly been seriously wronged by one Clinton or the other, expectations were that the debate would be a roughhouse. And, from the moment that the two contestants declined to shake hands at the bout’s beginning, expectations were not disappointed. The commentariat, a prim lot in America, were duly appalled. I, on the other hand, enjoyed it immensely. Titus Andronicus beats Hamlet any day.
Neither candidate made any attempt to conceal their mutual disdain, but in case any viewers hadn’t got the message, Trump described Clinton as incompetent, the devil, married to a bad man, in hock to special interests and as someone with “tremendous hate in her heart,” someone—his inner authoritarian never far away—he appeared to believe should be jailed over those errant emails. And, oh yes, Clinton is a liar.