Washington,DC - Donald Trump (Republican candidate for president) will debate Hillary Clinton (Democratic candidate for president) on Monday, 26 October.
It may be the most watched TV show in history (100 million projected viewers) rivaling Super Bowl figures.
And most eyes will be on Trump, perhaps the most reviled major U.S. political figure in modern history.
And we all know Trump. Bullying, bombastic, bigoted, racist, male chauvinist. He sneers at cripples; mocks menstruating females; endorses torture; believes that “blue lives” (police) matter more than black; is hostile to immigrants of all variety, but particularly illegal immigrant Hispanics described as replete with rapists—as well as taking jobs from honest U.S. citizens. He has mastered personal disrespect, throwing many Republican opponents off stride with comments about “little Marco” (Florida senator Marco Rubio) and “lying” Ted Cruz (Texas senator) while implying Cruz’s father was connected with JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. He implied former Hewitt Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was ugly and said former Florida governor Jeb Bush “lacked energy.” Perhaps most egregious (in my not-so-humble opinion) was his statement that he preferred heroes not to have surrendered—referring to Senator John McCain shot down over Vietnam, imprisoned for years and tortured repeatedly. Trump, who never served a day in uniform, isn’t qualified to shine McCain’s boots.
Enough for the U.S./Canadian/Western world liberal chattering class to conclude he is a despicable individual who would destroy the U.S. economy domestically and endanger foreign relations with every country worthy of mention.
And yet, he stands a respectable chance of being elected president.
Partly because Hillary Clinton is so poor a candidate in her own right. A congenital liar with a mediocre substantive record, persistent health questions, and running on a political platform anathema to conservative, Caucasian males, she is deemed almost as untrustworthy as Trump. She has maintained such feeble status despite backing by all major media (except Fox television).
But while Trump is all that he is depicted, it may prove irrelevant. He is not stupid. Although he may not have all the billions he has trumpeted, he is doubtless astute and canny. He can turn on a dime (and has); this debate with its massive audience will provide a perfect forum.
In the past, we have demonized leaders and found them not demonic. One recalls how Stephen Harper was going to transform Canada into a socially conservative state, reversing all Liberal advances. Instead, he governed as a rather dull leader, dutiful father (who walked his son to school), hockey fan (who wrote a book on Canada’s national sport), and never removed his shirt in public.
Personally, I remember Robert Welch, founder of the anticommunist John Birch Society, whose charges against prominent figures and wild proposals attracted fusillades of media criticism. He spoke at a university. I attended, anticipating him to appear with satanic horns and tail. Instead, he was reasonable, rational, and not at all what media depicted.
One could expect Donald Trump to present an innocuous image: concerned about massive illegal immigration; promising to restore jobs to lower-middle class workers lost by failed trade agreements; and rejecting foreign commitments that don’t directly benefit the United States.
Viewers could conclude that media (already highly distrusted) have generated unwarranted hostility—and vote accordingly.