Unprecedented filth in second presidential debate

Analysis: It was not a precise effort between two snipers; this was no careful dance. This was a knife fight between two polarizing figures, and the loser of the night was American politics.

October 10, 2016 05:51
3 minute read.

Emotions run high at second presidential debate

Emotions run high at second presidential debate


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WASHINGTON – There was no bottom in sight during the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Sunday night, which was certainly the ugliest event in modern American political history.

It was less of a debate and more of a brawl, featuring threats of criminal indictment and accusations of rape, sexual assault, incitement of violence, corruption and racism. The candidates questioned each other’s sanity and engaged in virtually no policy debate of substance whatsoever.

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With his campaign exploding before the nation’s eyes after the release of a video that showed him bragging about groping women, Trump had an opportunity to apologize.

He said he was embarrassed but declined to say he was sorry. “This was locker-room talk,” he asserted.

Then, he targeted the first female presidential nominee of a major party for her husband’s transgressions and brought some of his accusers to the debate as guests. Trump accused her of being an enabler and said she has “tremendous hatred in her heart.”

Trump threatened his political rival with imprisonment should he be elected – a dictatorial threat that sent chills through the US media, which struggled to contextualize his warning amid a torrent of other tawdry insults.

He managed to yell at Clinton and call her a liar to her face – red meat for his supporters, who believe the Democratic candidate belongs behind bars. This was his alt-Right staff – Steve Bannon of Breitbart.com is now his campaign CEO – taking over his campaign.

But whether this strategy will attract new voters is unclear.

His back up against the wall, Trump initiated the most vicious personal attacks against Clinton, who responded by quoting back to him a series of offensive comments he has made throughout his campaign, which have targeted veterans and Gold Star families, Mexican immigrants and Muslims.

Clinton accused Trump of offending women, but she also said the 2005 tape released on Friday was symptomatic of a mind-set that leads Trump to insult virtually every group that is not white men. She called him a danger to the country and the republic itself; warned that he is temperamentally and morally unfit for the office of the presidency; and claimed that his campaign was bleeding support at a rapid clip.

“What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women,” Clinton said of the tape. “It represents exactly who he is.”

Under assault from Trump with no holds barred, Clinton managed to keep her cool – she declined to interrupt him, and limited her responses to facial expressions.

Trump admitted he has not paid federal income taxes; claimed that the Syrian city of Aleppo had “basically already fallen” to the forces of President Bashar Assad; and said he hasn’t consulted with his own vice presidential running mate on his foreign policy recently.

There were few options for Clinton, who cannot escape the image of the consummate Washington insider. Keeping her cool required her to absorb some of the ugliest attacks ever lobbed on the stage of an American presidential debate.

In doing so, she missed several opportunities to defend herself and launched less-effective counterattacks.

At this sort of “debate,” the winning party is judged by how much blood he or she draws. It has nothing to do with policy to make America great again or to keep it great as is. The entire event was about the character assassination of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The result was not a precise effort between two snipers; this was no careful dance. This was a knife fight between two polarizing figures, and the loser of the night was American politics.

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