Thursday, October 13, 2016

More Political Angst

“You’d be in jail.” The second presidential debate of 2016 occurred recently. Donald Trump was, is, and continues to be, scary.

Bill Clinton spent thirty or so minutes alone with the Attorney General within days – or even hours, perhaps – of his wife’s case being ruled on by the AG's FBI. When asked about it, he said that they were just were exchanging pleasantries; engaging in social talk. This is to take us – the voters, the populous, those without access to the Attorney General’s private plane – for idiots. It is to be blind, or, as is often said, ‘tone deaf’ about the perceived meaning(s) of one’s actions. It is to have no understanding at all why I may think the purpose of the visit was to influence the FBI’s ruling. If the visit truly were purely social, even if true, to have paid it at the time he did was to demonstrate in spades his tone deafness. Any adult human being, especially a politician, even though retired, ought to know more about the perception of his actions than demonstrated here. ( Of course, maybe he was just being disingenuous … you think? )

It was about Abe Lincoln’s persuasive powers gathering support for the thirteenth amendment, seen in a movie ( or a play ). “It was a Master Class in presidential leadership.” This is Mrs Clinton’s turn at pulling wool. While it may have been a Master Class, this was her answer to the question if it is OK for a politician to have a public position on issues and a different private position. She was alleged to have reassured a group of Wall Street executives that was her situation. This is quite different from using different arguments to different groups. Her response is also a non-answer to a real question.

But … the United States not only survived but thrived under the leadership of the tone-deaf Bill Clinton. We may, or may not, do the same under less-than-candid Hillary. I suspect we would.

I am afraid, however, and I worry about survival of our democracy, when considering the alternative to Hillary. I’ve written of this before … a prayer, a poem

The vicious chanting of ‘Jail Hillary’ at Trump rallies is haunting. The mob mentality that, in the face of so many investigations that have found nothing criminal, that wants to see any human being, let alone a candidate for President of the United States, locked up, and pine for it in the way the chant expresses, scares me. And, rather than trying to tone this hostility down, Trump encourages it.

And Trump told her, as heard by my own ears, that if he were President, “You’d be in jail.” This is not the way our democracy works; this is not the rule of law; the President has much influence, but does not possess the power to lock people up. When Richard Nixon tried to get his attorney general to do a different-but-similar thing, his Attorney General had the decency, and the guts, to resign. ( For those of you perhaps too young to remember, Nixon himself ultimately resigned the presidency when faced with his own impeachment. ) That Trump would promise such a thing, on national TV, with a huge audience, alarms me. A lot. Such a public threat to lock up political adversaries strikes at the very heart of our system of government … the rule of law and the separation of powers. It is the way of dictators, both two-bit and more successful ones.

We could survive the lies of Hillary Clinton; we could not survive dismantling the heart our democracy by Donald Trump.

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