Before last night’s second Presidential debate I was one of those who believed that Republican candidate Donald Trump should step aside and let Vice-Presidential candidate Mike Pence lead the Republican ticket. Like many others the sensational leaked videotape of Trump’s lurid and lewd remarks of over a decade ago convinced me that he had become unelectable. Also, Pence’s excellence performance in the Vice-Presidential debate earlier in the week had markedly elevated his status.
Before the debate Trump had already apologized for his remarks on the tape but the question was number one on the agenda of the so-called Town Hall type debate. Trump again apologized for the language on the tape and did not try to deny what he said. Still, I did not think he did a good job. In the first place he did not address the issue of whether the lewd remarks caught on the tape were an isolated incident or whether they represented a pattern of misogynistic and womanizing behavior on his part.
He claimed that it was “locker-room” talk but he did say on the tape that he did try to seduce a married woman who declined his advances. He also claimed that his “star” status allowed him to have his way with women even to the point of groping their private parts. That’s more than talk. The tape revealed him as a confirmed and proud “womanizer” who would use his wealth, power, and celebrity to have his way with weak, vulnerable, or ambitious women.
Nevertheless, he went forward and seemed to try to deflect the question by talking about the atrocities committed by ISIS in the Middle East. I think I know what he was trying to say here even though he did a bad job. I believe that he was trying to say that his admitted sexual misconduct was a minor sin compared to some of the atrocities perpetrated in the world today, especially against women in the Middle East and Africa by Moslem fanatics. That is certainly true but he did not do a good job of drawing the connection.
He could have said that Hillary Clinton’s support of the “Arab Spring” during her term as Secretary of State was a disaster for women in many parts of the world. In Egypt her policies allowed the Moslem Brotherhood to take over the country and launch a brutal persecution of Christians in which untold numbers of women were brutally raped and murdered. In Libya her support of the rebels led not only to the overthrow of Libya’s dictator but ultimately to the resulting chaos in which the loss of four American lives in the Embassy was only the tip of the iceberg. It is hard to say how many women have suffered as a result of our support of the rebels in Libya.
In Syria today the Obama administration’s support of rebels has contributed to the warfare that has exiled millions. If Clinton can take credit for killing Osama bin Laden, she ought to share some of the blame for the expansion of ISIS into Syria. Trump raised a good point when he claimed that she didn’t even know who the rebels were that she blindly supported in Syria. By now it is clear that many of the rebels are using our arms to oppress, rape, and murder women.
I thought that Trump did a better job in defending himself when he compared his own behavior with that of Clinton’s husband. Why did Clinton and her well educated supporters believe that Bill Clinton was fit or qualified to be President of the USA despite his sexual predatory behavior when he was Governor of Arkansas? Why do the same people who excused Clinton’s private abuse of women as President, now demand that Trump exit the race?
Surprisingly, many commentators after the debate concluded that Trump had won the debate. Even hardcore liberals on CNN had to admit that Trump had given a strong performance. One even argued that his strong performance would keep him in the race, something that would ultimately benefit Clinton. Personally, I thought Clinton gave her standard “C” performance, and that Trump avoided disaster and improved his grade to C+.
Finally, I believe that they both could have made better use of the Town Hall format. The questions asked by the audience participants were largely inoffensive and easy to answer but neither candidate seemed willing to engage the people asking the questions. They all looked like simple, ordinary Americans. Sometimes, Clinton would walk over to face the questioner but rarely answered the question. These are the people who Trump claims to represent but he also showed little empathy or concern for them. Just imagine if he had said to the man wearing the red sweater, “I like your sweater.”