She did that.
She needed to avoid getting baited by Donald Trump.
She did that.
She needed to respond forcefully to the two things that she knows are seen in the polling research – that more than a few Americans believe she participated in an effort to discredit or shame her husband Bill Clinton’s paramours, and that she is (at best) dishonest and (at worst) a crook.
She didn’t do that.
Trump needed, even for 90 minutes, to look and sound presidential.
He didn’t do that.
He needed to hold onto his core, many of whom were deserting him – even before the tape on which he brags of sexual assault behaviour came out recently.
He did that.
There were many things that happened in that not-so-great U.S. presidential debate on Sunday evening that people are now talking about. For me, there were two things:
- TV is pictures. I always advise watching debates with the sound off. And what you would have seen, over and over, was an angry, hulking man, literally stalking a woman. It was stunning to me.
- Trump is a fascist. He is. I have resisted calling him that for months. To me, it is one of the most serious charges you can make about a person. It is something not to be done lightly – principally because, done too often, it minimizes the suffering of the actual victims of fascism.
But, on Sunday night, Trump promised – not once, but twice – to imprison Clinton. His campaign manager tried to spin his words later, calling them “a quip.” But they were no quip. He meant them. He would do what fascists do – unilaterally throw his opponents in a cage.
I found the debate deeply unsettling for those two reasons. You may have your own.
But I feel that we have arrived at a very dangerous place, as we head toward the Nov. 8 American presidential election.
Clinton is going to win, perhaps in a landslide.
Trump is going to lose.
But his malignant spirit will not soon disappear. It will hang like a shadow over America, Canada’s greatest ally.
Trump has appealed, expertly, to the worst in people. He has created division and disunity in a way that no one foresaw.
The 2016 presidential campaign will end in a month. But the ugliness will persist long after that.
The beast has been woken from its slumber.
Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator.