Monday, October 10, 2016

In-between Lines

I didn't really watch the presidential debates this year, mainly because it's probably bad for my blood pressure. I do read parts of the transcript, and a couple of things jumped out at me from the second debate.

First, a digression. If you're of a certain age, you might remember Bill Clinton's impeachment. He famously said, "it depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is," which makes the expression "splitting hairs" seem unexaggerated in contrast. Of course he was lying, if not in words then in spirit, but it's important for now to recognize how fine he was trying to be. He knew exactly where the line between the truth and falsehood lie, and skated up as close as he possibly could to it.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, said in the debate, "nobody has more respect for women than I do," literally just seconds after apologizing what he said had been embarrassingly bad judgement. (I'm paraphrasing, but yes, he used those words.) This is curious. How can he possibly think nobody has more respect for women? He clearly recognizes that only "stars" like him get to treat women like that, so wouldn't normal people have more respect for women? The other explanation, which is more plausible once you observe his speech pattern, is that he lied. He knows he doesn't respect women, and he knows that you know it, but he just doesn't care if the words that come out of his mouth are true or false.

I don't intend to judge whether Clinton or Trump is worse, just noting a difference.

On the subject of Russian involvement in Syria, the moderators cited Mike Pence as saying that:
provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and that if Russia continues to be involved in air strikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.
to which Trump responded, "He and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree. I disagree."

Let that sink in for a moment. He couldn't stop talking about Syria and ISIS like it's the most important thing, but he hasn't spoken to his VP candidate about how to deal with Russian involvement? Anybody who pays the least bit of attention to Syria will know that the Russians are a major player, and no solution is possible without dealing with Russia. Yet the Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates have not spoken about Russians in Syria?!

We're talking about a basic policy position regarding Assad and Russia, not some minor policy detail. They haven't spoken about it, even though ISIS appears to be a top foreign policy concern, or at least an area he hopes to hit Hillary Clinton on. He openly praised Vladimir Putin as a "strong" leader, so it's clearly not because he lacks respect for the Russian. So how could they not have discussed how to deal with Assad and his Russian puppet master, leading to an embarrassingly public disagreement?

The mind boggles. There really hasn't been a presidential candidate this unprepared for office in living memory.

At this point, I think it'd be best if the third and final debate could be hosted by Nickelodeon, consisting entirely of slime and physical challenges.

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