Books, Pop Culture and Political Humor from J.D. Rhoades, best-selling author, attorney, and award-winning newspaper columnist.
"Like [Lee] Child, Rhoades dishes out one airtight action scene after another, mixing in just enough character-building moments and holding our interest in a full cast of nicely developed supporting players."-Booklist
So the first presidential debate has come and gone, and pretty much everyone who’s not actually on Donald Trump’s payroll agrees, however grudgingly, that Hillary Clinton won the evening.
Trump’s been doing better lately in the polls, I suspect largely because campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has, against all odds, managed to keep him from doing things like attacking the families of dead war heroes and mocking the disabled.
We did get a taste of the Trump we all know and loathe when he responded to reports that Clinton was inviting fellow billionaire and frequent Trump critic Mark Cuban to the debate by tweeting that he might invite Bill Clinton’s former mistress, Gennifer Flowers, to sit in the front row as well.
Because attempting to humiliate a woman by rubbing her nose in an affair her husband had 25 years ago is completely justified by having someone who’s criticized your business acumen sit in at your debate. They’re exactly the same thing, can’t you see?
Fortunately, cooler heads in the campaign seem to have prevailed, and soon they were frantically denying that the candidate had said what he’d said, despite the evidence to the contrary in black and white. As we shall see, this has become a pattern for the Trump folks.
But there was no way to keep the real Trump under wraps for a full 90 minutes, especially since Hillary Clinton appears to have been devoting a good part of her debate prep into figuring ways to push The Donald’s buttons.
And push them she did. For a good chunk of the debate, Hillary Clinton played Donald Trump like a cheap banjo.
As the whole Mark Cuban thing revealed, the quickest way to make Donald Trump overreact is to question his business practices. So Clinton brought up the number of contractors that Trump has stiffed, including one in the audience, to which Trump, the candidate who claims to be on the side of working Americans, snarled “maybe he didn’t do a good job.”
She suggested that the reason Trump didn’t want to release his tax returns is because they showed that, unlike most Americans, he didn’t pay any taxes. “That makes me smart,” Trump shot back.
Here’s a tip: Suggesting that “smart people don’t pay taxes” is an opinion you should probably keep to yourself if you want the votes of those who do.
Then he responded to Clinton’s claim that Trump had publicly rooted for the housing crisis because he’d said that Americans losing their homes would be a great way for him to pick up cheap property. He didn’t try to deny it, but instead snapped “that’s called business.” I seem to remember the phrase “it’s just business” coming from the mouth of another character. It was Michael Corleone in “The Godfather.”
Clinton really managed to lead Trump down the garden path and into a flowerbed full of bear traps by forcing him to deny saying things that, as we previously noted, have been well-documented, such as the canard that he was against the Iraq War.
(“The record says otherwise,” observed moderator Lester Holt, thus enraging the Trumpkins as only someone telling the provable truth can do.)
He also denied saying that he thought climate change was a hoax perpetrated by China, at which point, copies of his tweet saying exactly that spread across the Internet faster than an Instagram of a naked Kardashian.
Finally, Clinton nailed Trump on his sexism and misogyny by bringing up the case of Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe who the then-50-year-old Trump publicly shamed by trotting the then-19-year-old to the gym to work out in front of reporters, telling them “she loves to eat” and calling her “Miss Piggy.”
Confronted with the story of his cruelty to a teenage girl, Trump was reduced to sputtering “where did you find this?” over and over like a husband in a divorce case being presented with his credit card receipts from the Midnight Bunny Ranch.
And since Donald Trump can never, ever, let anything go, he took to the airwaves the next day to insist that he was completely justified in humiliating a young woman less than half his age because she was, you know, really getting fat.
With the first debate behind him, Donald Trump has vowed to “hit harder” in his next meeting with Secretary Clinton. The man who’s been married three times, each time to the mistress he’d been carrying on an affair with while married to the previous spouse, the man who’s bragged in print about his dalliances with married women, is thinking maybe it’s time to bring up “Bill’s women.”
Yes, I’m sure being an even bigger creep, liar and hypocrite will win American hearts and minds. To quote another debate (and election) winning Democrat: Please proceed, Mr. Trump.