I’m morbidly fascinated by the rhetorical mud being slung between Democrats and Republicans these days. How exhilarating to hear Hillary Clinton labeled “unstable” by Donald Trump, who is himself called “bat(bleep)-crazy” by a fellow billionaire and Hillaryite, Mark Cuban.
Breathtaking to hear the former secretary of state, who presided over the first massacre of a U.S. ambassador in 40 years, say, “It’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because someone got under his very thin skin,” then listen to a fervent Trumpeter named Alex Jones call Clinton and her husband “organized criminals … and there’s a lot of death around them.”
Of course, depending upon whom you support, the other guy’s rhetoric is slanderous (or, in Trump’s case, terroristic threats and an invitation to assassination) while your team’s comments are legitimate political discourse. I cannot tell you how many times I see otherwise intelligent individuals — at least they seemed that way before Mark Zuckerberg got to them — completely lose any sense of objectivity and become zombie-like cheerleaders for their standard-bearer.
That sickens me, people, and I’m sure I sicken you with my refusal to “make America great again” or be “with her.” Those of us who agonize and refuse to pick a side are looked upon with disdain by both the jubilant folks shaking the shards of that shattered glass ceiling out of their hair, and the true “murricans” who think Hillary’s Social Security number starts and ends with “666.”
This week, though, I actually do need to take a side. It has nothing to do with whom will get my vote, because that has been changing positions as regularly as one of those balls that dance merrily over the Wimbledon net. This week, I need to peel back the layers of rhetoric and excuses about the “lesser of two evils” and focus deliberately and clinically on why Trump is a horror show of a human being.
And of course, here comes the disclaimer. I despise Clinton, whose character has been shown to be so low that it could slither under a pregnant ant and still leave space. She is a liar, who lies with expert calm and nonchalance, a woman who would not be able to pass a lie-detector test because she is too smart to convince herself that what comes out of her mouth is the truth.
She lies when she doesn’t have to, as she does in the rare interviews she grants sycophantic journalists; she lies when cornered; she lies when she smiles and says she cares about our children (and the unborn ones shake their tiny, hidden heads); lies when she implies that it was a right-wing conspiracy that tainted her husband’s legacy, and not his penis; lies when she says she wants to be my president.
She despises people like me, who see through her facade of empathy. The one thing she doesn’t lie about is her ambition, which is impossible to dissimulate and hangs in the air before our eyes like a banner screaming, “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar!”
No, I do not like Hillary Rodham Clinton, and I do not respect her, and I will not welcome her into the White House. She’s competent and qualified, but so is Elizabeth Warren, and so is Bernie Sanders, and so is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and so was Teddy Kennedy, and they are all the antithesis of what I believe our country needs to remain strong and whole, honorable and viable.
That was the disclaimer. Now comes the point of this column, nearly 600 words in:
Donald Trump is a mediocre man, and he is someone who does not deserve, even as a default, to sit in the White House. It is long past the time to start talking about the Supreme Court and generations to come, and having a president who will sign legislation that a presumably Republican Congress would put in front of him.
People, think back to what this man suggested when he was talking about the Second Amendment. I know that the media have had a great tendency to blow Trump’s comments out of proportion, and the dust-up about Megyn Kelly’s blood and the cruel comments about Muslim terrorists and Mexican rapists can, if we are pushed to the wall, be swallowed like bitter bile and then forgotten as we set our eyes on the prize.
I truly do believe that Trump does not understand the consequences of his words, and that his brain is not fully engaged before he opens his mouth. This is the thing that has enchanted so many of those who were tired of the “establishment” and encourages them to circle the protective wagons when he’s criticized.
But, my friends, you cannot circle the wagons when your candidate, inadvertently as I believe it to have been, makes reference to a final solution for addressing gun-control differences. I watched as that blond twit on CNN who thinks she’s clever and regurgitates Trump talking points every night actually tried to excuse his Second Amendment comments as being misunderstood. Here are the words he spoke: “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. … Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
No thinking human being can misunderstand that. Trump tried to say he was inviting people to vote as a bloc against Clinton, but the only way she gets to pick a judge, presumably for the Supreme Court, is if she already is president. So voting will be irrelevant at that point.
At this point, I suppose it’s too much to change the hearts and minds of those who are in the Never Hillary camp. I wouldn’t want to. In fact, I’d be sick at the thought that anything I said would persuade someone to vote for her.
All I ask is that you supporters of “The Donald” stop dipping your brains in formaldehyde and acknowledge that the candidate has crossed the line of decency. Hold him up to judgment. Make him accountable for his thoughtless, reckless, supremely unpresidential words. Don’t act like the robotic prostitutes on cable television who excuse his failings. This time, he’s gone too far.
And if you don’t acknowledge it, so have you.
Christine Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may email her at [email protected].