This was the moment the American right has been salivating over for 25 years . . . someone stood on a stage and leveled all the charges at Hillary Clinton, to her face, and called her a liar, and glowered and swaggered while doing it.
And it fell flat.
It went nowhere.
She was calm, composed, even cool, under pressure. She didn’t break down. She didn’t fall to pieces. She didn’t dissolve into a puddle of tears.
Josh Marshall is spot on:
The whole debate, rancid and intense, felt like an ordeal to live through just watching it on TV.
I don’t think we can discuss this debate as citizens, take stock of it as a country, without noting that this is certainly the first time one candidate has openly threatened to jail the other candidate. Trump said openly that he would instruct the Justice Department to open a new investigation of Clinton and that he’d make sure it ended with her imprisonment.
That’s something we expect it kleptocracies and thin democracies where electoral defeat can mean exile, imprisonment or death.
Such a ferocious claim, one that puts our whole constitutional order on its head, is not something that can be easily undone. That’s the ranting threat of a would-be strongman and dictator The threat itself is like a bell that can’t be un-rung. Through the course of what was often an ugly debate, I was thinking a lot of the destructiveness of this entire campaign, virtually all of which stems from Trump’s transgressive, norm-demolishing behavior. It’s a topic we’ll have to return to in the ed blog and one the country is going to need to wrestle with. None of this is going to disappear after November 8th. These are slashing wounds to the country’s political fabric that will at best leave tremendous scar tissue we’ll still see for decades.
It was vile. Not because of Hillary Clinton who remains an ordinary politician in almost every sense – with all that status implies. No, it was vile because Donald Trump is vile, because the American right has long since surrendered its ethics and standards, because the American right has long since given up truth and honesty and instead has played an amoral game whose only yardstick is who won the election, right or wrong; who outshouted who; who got the highest ratings.
Donald Trump, glowering, swaggering, striding around the stage, trying to physically intimidate Hillary, was every bit the bully, the abuser, the loud mouthed asshole. His behavior is vile, degrading and shameful.