Voters in the US will probably vote for the candidate they dislike the least. After the second debate between Trump and Clinton earlier this week, voters’ decisions haven’t been made easier. While Hillary Clinton won the first debate, I don’t think she was the victor in the second one.
This time, a more confident Trump had Clinton on the defensive for most of the one and a half hours, even telling her that she’d be in jail if he was in charge of the justice department – a reference to the Clinton email scandal.
Clinton seemed to struggle, repeatedly dodging why she deleted 33,000 emails from her secret server and failing to explain her secret speeches to the Wall Street community. In a statement after the debate, the Republicans or GOP (Grand Old Party) which I prefer to call them, said: “Hillary Clinton spent this debate running from the truth and proving she’s the poster child for a rigged system. The country is eager to break from a failed status quo that rewards D.C. insiders at the expense of ordinary Americans but that’s exactly what she is promising. Donald Trump rejected the politics of cronyism and made it clear he will bring strong leadership, prosperity and security to our country.”
My concern about the US presidential race is that it is taking place in the gutter.
When Trump entered the second debate, he was at a clear disadvantage. He’d just lost the support of several prominent Republicans after an eleven-year-old tape surfaced on which he had made vulgar and crude comments about women. The second debate was all about Trump successfully deflecting attention away from these remarks – and this he managed to do, by attacking Hillary’s husband. Trump said while he was embarrassed by the remarks he had made, he denied assaulting women, claiming that Bill Clinton had been “abusive” to women. Trump reminded the audience that the former president was impeached and lost his licence to practice law because he lied to Congress about his affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton didn’t respond to the attacks on her husband, apart from saying they were “inaccurate”.
It’s concerning that the US presidential debates have sunk to such a level. There are way more important issues that should be discussed. Fortunately, the entire debate wasn’t about Trump or Bill Clinton’s indiscretions.
An important issue around income tax came up when Trump accused Clinton of not supporting changes to the tax code during her 30 years of public office. Trump said it didn’t suit Clinton’s interests or those of her billionaire friends such as Warren Buffett and George Soros. Clinton hastily replied that it was amusing to hear from someone who hadn’t paid federal income taxes in decades talking about what he was going to do. “Donald always takes care of Donald, and people like Donald, and this would be a massive gift,” she said.
Trump also appeared to say that he wasn’t in close contact with Mike Pence, the Republican vice-presidential nominee. Asked about why Pence was suggesting that the US should strike Russian forces in Syria – something Trump himself has never endorsed – Trump said he wasn’t in agreement with his running mate. “He and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree,” Trump said.
At this stage, it is difficult to discern which of the presidential candidates is in the lead. Last weekend, it seemed that Trump might even bow out of the race following the release of that audio tape. However, writing on the Dow Jones website, Brett Arends says there are several points that the “Trump-is-toast” hysteria is overlooking.
Firstly, the people who think Trump should drop out are mostly those who thought he should never have been in the race in the first place. Also, there’s no hard evidence that ordinary Americans have been traumatised by the “Trump tapes”.
And Trump’s opponent isn’t without her own negatives, Arends writes.
There’s still a month to go before the US election and scandals involving both Trump and Clinton could surface. Most of us will be glad when it’s all over. I don’t remember a presidential race that has been quite so personal and so bitter.