Being the scattered, late-night thoughts of a Canadian upon watching a video of the Second Presidential Debate Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, after a long and happy day driving and walking in autumnal Gatineau with my sweetie. (I'd have done better to put off the viewing until tomorrow, but that promises to be a double-shift, with close to 750 kilometres on the road.)
Going much against the mainstream, I thought the first debate between these deplorable candidates of a broken democratic facade of empire was more or less a draw. Despite the sniffing, it was my opinion that Trump managed to sound reasonably presidential, which (yes) was his low bar to clear. Clinton performed more or less as expected, but was unable to hide her fundamental contempt for her opponent well enough to sway any of his followers to her side, nor to convince the former Bernie Sanders adherents to actually make it out to vote at all come election day.
But tonight's round came after the release of this video (one, I confess, I didn't bother to watch until just before I typed this sentence):
And all America went crazy. One half because they took a pathological liar at his word — "And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything, grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything." — and determined that he was admitting to being a serial sexual assaulter (and let's face it: he sure as hell wasn't denying it), while the other half was shocked (shocked!) that he used such crude language as, er, "pussy".
And for several days, as a powerful hurricane devastated Haiti and threatened much of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States of America, and as the world's two nuclear super-powers huffed and puffed ever-closer to all-out military confrontation in Syria, the press and the blogosphere were going nuclear themselves taking the words of a Beta Male bragging as signs of the immanent decline of Western civilization.
(And the third half was split between hoarding fatalistic pop-corn and packing camper-vans full freeze-dried meals in hopes of riding out the coming apocalypse somewhere in northern Quebec. But I digress.)
And so it was that I came home from a frankly delightful day out with my sweetie, enjoying the autumn colours in the Gatineau hills and wandering the street (yes, street, singular) of Wakefield, Quebec, and settled in to see what I'd missed.
And it started out as a shit show indeed. Brian Mulroney telling John Turner that "you sir, had a choice!" had nothing on The Donald repeatedly calling Hillary a "liar".
And of course the first questions had to do with Trump's tape. And he responded pretty convincingly. It was "locker-room banter," he said, and he stuck to that line. He was sorry he'd said it, but it was jokey stuff and he really respects women (he respects everyone! said the man who first came to fame humiliating "apprentices" on (inter)national television and then telling all but one of them that, "You're fired!"), and anyway, Bill Clinton actually did worse things than Donald joked about and Hillary got a real rapist off as a lawyer and then laughed about it ...
It was a presidential debate as the pre-fight antics at a World Wide Wrestling bout.
But once that was out of the way, shit (as they say) sort of got real. And it sort of didn't.
I was rather shocked to find that Trump made more sense on the situation on Syria than did Hillary. He said the target should be ISIS and that he would work with Iran and Russia (and even Syria) to destroy ISIS, no matter than he had just spent minutes talking about how bad Iraq and Russia were. Whereas Hillary spent a lot of time <>strike>Red-baiting Russia-baiting trump, pretty much out-and-out saying that the Donald is a Putin stooge.
And it went on and on and on ...
No knock-out blow came, but what struck me was how well Trump parried the blows Clinton (and her advisers, no doubt) must have intended as hay-makers.
Attacked for taking advantage of tax loop-holes, Trump said in effect, Of course I did! I'd have been an idiot not too. And so did all of Hillary's rich friends and contributors. And the difference, he claims is that he doesn't owe any rich people but himself, and he's willing to pay more taxes. (He also said he's going to cut business taxes, but no one really expects these people to be consistent, do they?)
Anyway, I've only watched the thing once, I didn't take notes, and had no intention of typing up a fucking synopsis.
My initial take-away, is that Trump has not only survived his Pussygate, but come away stronger. And that if he keeps focused on Hillary's ties to big money, and her support for the various failed wars the US is involved in, he might still win this thing.
And as a foreigner, I think that might (just might!) make the world a (very) slightly safer place than it would be under a Clinton presidency.
But really, no good outcome is possible from this shit-show. Whatever happens, the American experiment in republican democracy is coming to a close. The future is a failing empire that might take the whole world down with it, or a bloody interregnum of indefinate power-struggle as the waters rise in warming world. (Some of those Chinese civil wars lasted a god damned century.)
Anyway, as I said, my first thoughts; what say you?