Ok, that’s the title of a novel by Hunter S. Thompson, but it describes World War III the third presidential debate.
The headline coming out of the debate has to be that Donald Trump refused to say that he would accept the election result if he lost. Basically, he said when Chris Wallace asked him a second time, that people should just “stay tuned”.
This has never happened before. Consider our history: George Washington was the center of gravity in American political life from 1775 all the way to 1796. He was our first president. People asked: What would happen to the republic when Washington went home? They worried that we were being held together by a single person, not by a system of laws, because the laws hadn’t yet had a chance to put their roots down into the political system. At that point, America was a government of men, and then John Adams became the second president. There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, that when Adams took the oath of office, he stood aside to let Washington lead them out of the chamber. Washington turned to Adams, and said: “after you Mr. President.”
That simple act of respect established the preeminence of the presidency and the peaceful transfer of presidential power.
In 2016, who is qualified to lead the country? Could it be a guy that disrespects one of our bedrock traditions?
Wallace asked if Trump will go along with the election result, Trump answers by saying the election is rigged. Clinton says Trump always claims things are rigged if they don’t go his way. Her observing that Trump said he lost the Emmy because the contest was rigged was a thing of beauty.
Hillary Clinton won tonight and won the first debate. The second debate was a draw. At this stage in the campaign, people expect the candidates to be knowledgeable and prepared for the debate, but it devolved into the same kind of hair pulling show as debate II. Trump saying near the end of the debate that Clinton shouldn’t have even been allowed to run (who should have disallowed her?) was a crazy moment.
Overall, Clinton was solid steel, coated in platinum. Trump, of course, was Bakelite.
Chris Wallace was by far the best of the moderators, at least for the first hour, although he had a slight right wing bias. It went south after that, and he had a hard time keeping the candidates on track.
It was very difficult to fact-check either candidate, but again, Trump stood out, denying things we all knew to be true. Long-time blog reader FVK had a thought:
The Trump excuses reminded me of the old John Lovitz routine on SNL. When a new excuse for his screw-ups came to him, he’d say, “yeah, that’s the ticket!” “I’m behind because election is rigged”.
John Lovitz had a character on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s called Tommy Flanagan, the pathological liar. Flanagan would tell outrageous whoppers, like claiming he was married to Morgan Fairchild, and thus had seen her naked “more than once.”
Doesn’t that sound like the GOP candidate we saw last night?
Whatever the debating points, Trump couldn’t get out of the way of the avalanche of wrong created by the Access Hollywood video, and his response to it.
That defined Trump 2016, and he did nothing in debate III to recover from it. Here is Trump’s avalanche of wrong: