CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 5, 2016 — Now that the warmup to our political “Wrestlemania” is virtually over, it’s time to brace for the main event. If you thought the undercard was fun, the feature will be even better.
When it will the show begin? How long will it be before we are sick of hearing about it? Will the talking heads ever shut up?
Because Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both have high negatives, the media will do everything in its power to heat-up controversy and facilitate a mud-fest; it will serve up the mud with relish.
For many people, President Barack Obama wore thin very quickly. This was largely because of his aversion to the truth. But truth will be in even shorter supply this year.
Donald Trump, whom his detractors consider a crude and narcissistic vulgarian, may morph into a more “presidential” personality, but he remains a caricature of himself. In the event that doesn’t change, we will quickly tire of his mugging for the cameras.
Hillary Clinton has been around so long that she already has more baggage than you can fit in Air Force One. Her followers, like Trump’s, will speak, see and hear no evil about her, but the record is there, and the every lie, gaffe and act of petty corruption will be duly recorded for posterity.
In his own way, Trump may be more personable than Clinton. He’s inartfully open in the way of a child who’s never been told “no,” while Clinton has erected barriers within barriers to avoid revealing anything authentic about herself. We know with certainty only that she is lying the moment she opens her mouth.
Case in point: She said at a town hall in March “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
When confronted with that statement earlier this week while campaigning in West Virginia, the former first lady responded that she was taken out of context. Indeed. It’s trivially true that any time we’re quoted, the quote is out of context. But no matter how many times you read her comment, it is virtually impossible to see how she was misunderstood, in or out of “context.”
Later in the week, during a CNN interview, Clinton responded to a question about Donald Trump’s attacks on her saying, “I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation in the way they behave.”
That comment brought an immediate rebuke from Native Americans and others over the reference to a “reservation,” a reminder of how ridiculous this political silly season is going to get. In Hillary’s defense, there was no malice in the statement. She was just using a trite, old idiom whose history we largely forget, and she was more likely referring to Bill Clinton than to Sitting Bull.
Hillary issued a phony clarification of her comment, which she said was a reference to other Republicans with whom she has had differences in the past. Maybe so, but it still reminds us of her husband’s numerous transgressions with women and, more grievous in her eyes, the fact that he got caught.
The problem for Clinton is that even her most avid supporters know precisely what she means with her lies and gaffes, and there is no way for her to cover for herself without their assistance.
Trump, on the other hand, will enshrine himself in the “Joe Biden Gaffer’s Hall of Fame.” But he adjusts to his miscues more quickly and with more conviction than his Democratic opponent, doing a better job of judo-flipping them back on his opponents.
All of this will be entertaining at first, but after seven months, it will be as demoralizing as a 7-month Jerry Lewis movie marathon.
In November we can take a collective breath and be thankful that, at long last, it’s finally over. But it won’t be. The controversies will continue, and we are in for four long years of Washington mud-slinging, grandstanding and overheated rhetoric to rival anything we have seen so far.
As Karen Carpenter once sang so beautifully, “We’ve only just begun.”
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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