Editorial: Political bomb hit pre-debate
The political bomb that dropped over the weekend did not, as many expected, explode at Sunday night’s second debate between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Rather it hit Friday night with the release of a video in which Trump speaks lewdly and openly about his boorish behavior with women.
Those comments, extensively covered by the media, caused dozens of Republican leaders to drop their support of their party’s candidate. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan publicly disinvited Trump to a Saturday political event in Wisconsin, and even former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, ditched Trump saying he couldn’t condone his behavior any longer.
In short, the pre-debate shenanigans overwhelmed the actual debate, which, by our assessment will be judged more of a draw than the first debate — but only because Trump was more forceful, focused and knowledgeable than he was in the first debate, which was widely declared a disaster for his campaign. While his performance was better in the second debate, he was still outrageous, insulting, again relied on debunked criticisms of Clinton and rarely answered a question directly. And, as always, he was rude, self-effusive and dismissive. Clinton’s answers were more to the point, but she stumbled on a few and, once again, did not deliver the knockout punch she should have.
But it may not matter. Trump’s own words might do him in.
As an example of the outrage his comments about women sparked in that video hosted by presidential cousin Billy Bush, here is the essence of Sunday’s editorial by the Salt Lake City Deseret News, normally a religiously conservative publication that is owned by the Mormon Church:
“For 80 years, the Deseret News has not entered into the troubled waters of presidential endorsement. We are neutral on matters of partisan politics. We do, however, feel a duty to speak clearly on issues that affect the well-being and morals of the nation.
“Accordingly, today we call on Donald Trump to step down from his pursuit of the American presidency.
“In democratic elections, ideas have consequences, leadership matters and character counts.
“The idea that women secretly welcome the unbridled and aggressive sexual advances of powerful men has led to the mistreatment, sorrow and subjugation of countless women for far too much of human history.
“The notion that strength emanates from harsh, divisive and unbending rhetorical flourish mistakenly equates leadership with craven intimidation.
“The belief that the party and the platform matter more than the character of the candidate ignores the wisdom of the ages that, ‘when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.’ (Proverbs 29:2)… History affirms that leaders’ examples either elevate or demean the lives of those being led. When choosing the ostensible leader of the free world, the American electorate requires the clear assurance that their chosen candidate will consistently put the well-being of others ahead of his or her own personal gratification. The most recent revelations of Trump’s lewdness disturb us not only because of his vulgar objectification of women, but also because they poignantly confirm Trump’s inability to self-govern.
“What oozes from this audio is evil. We hear a married man give smooth, smug and self-congratulatory permission to his intense impulses, allowing them to outweigh the most modest sense of decency, fidelity and commitment. And although it speaks volumes about sexual morality, it goes to the heart of all ethical behavior. Trump’s banter belies a willingness to use and discard other human beings at will. That characteristic is the essence of a despot….
“We prefer to stand for something rather than against someone. But this is one of those rare moments where it is necessary to take a clear stand against the hucksterism, misogyny, narcissism and latent despotism that infect the Trump campaign…”
That’s harsh. And when a conservative newspaper in a conservative state calls the Republican candidate’s behavior “the essence of a despot,” you have to believe that Republican is in trouble.
Angelo S. Lynn