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Really. The Hilary versus the Donald. Has there ever been a more dispiriting spectacle than these two individuals presenting themselves before 100 million viewers as viable candidates for what is believed to be the world’s most important and powerful job? Well, yes – every previous election campaign for the last fifty years springs to mind. But this one still caps them in its stunning efflorescence of blabbering mediocrity. The Hilary started off with a remarkable appearance of competence that revealed her as another run-of-the-mill Democrat, ablaze with high ideals appealing to a vaunted ‘middle class’, yet no more certain of how these lofty goals were to be achieved than her opponent was of how his plans to aid the wealthy made it clear how the neo-trickle-down effect would work. For his part, the Donald began by assuring us he wanted ‘Secretary Clinton’ – as she now was – to be comfortable and happy. After all, she was just a woman. He was Trump the Proud – albeit with a nasal drip that sounded as if he’s just snorted a hefty line of cocaine. Unfortunately, and doubtless contrary to the advice of his advisers, he allowed the Hilary to press his well-known and easy buttons. And, equally unfortunately, she decided that pressing them was her objective in this so-called debate. Unsurprisingly, a free-for-all ensued, with both candidates displaying little more than how unsuited they each were for the world’s most important job. The Hilary avoided answering issues like why she had deleted 33,000 e-mails from her improper server – and largely because the Donald’s bullish responses to her taunts blinded him to questions worth pursuing. Pundits understandably excoriated him for bragging that his avoidance of income tax was ‘smart’, without taking into account the fact that everyone similarly burdened with taxes, no matter how slight, would agree that it was smart. The host, or beleaguered question-master, tied insinuating some relevant queries – ‘Why don’t you release your tax returns?’ – but the combatants had grown too belligerent to pay attention. The Donald tried to point out that the Secretary – no doubt a demeaning title in his world – had once raised the issue of where Obama had been born during her fight for the White House, yet he raised it in terms assuming viewers and listeners knew the names of principals involved. We did not, largely, but by then no one cared. It seemed clear that here were two thoroughly distasteful people, neither of whom ought to attain any prominent public position, less still the one they aspired to.

The question I most wanted answered, listening to the Donald’s oft-repeated slogan, was one of when exactly it was that America could have been considered ‘great’. Was it during the Korean War?  The coup d’etat in Iran overthrowing nascent democracy there? The Vietnam War? The invasions of Grenada, Panama et al? CIA coups in Chile, Nicaragua and elsewhere in the region? Afghanistan? Iraq? Libya? Or now the debacle in Syria? When was this greatness, and of what did it consist? The Donald’s answers to this question would have been as enlightening as the Hilary’s answers to why her new bold plans had not been at least partially implemented over the past thirty-odd years of her political career. Yet it was all the ringmaster could do to keep the slug-fest on its scheduled course to where the final issues weren’t dealt with either.

Ah, America, we aliens think. What became of your great idea? What are we to make of a nation that can only produce these two sad wretches as its potential leaders? Perhaps we should be frightened? As it is, though, we are merely bored by watching your decline and fall – as we were by watching that of every empire once so gripped by hubris and so willfully ignorant of which way the wind always blows.

The only undeniably true thing said last night was, uncharacteristically, by the Trump: no more dire and pressing an issue exists for this world than the existence and proliferation of atmomic eeapons. Unlike global warming, this is two buttons pressed and – zap! That’s all, folks. Like a thief in the nuclear night, all human aspirations vanish forever. What more pressing an issue could we want anyone posing as a world leader to face and solve?


Paul William Roberts

P.S. And talking about political liars, what of British foreign secretary Boris Johnston’s meeting with the Turkish leader, whom he recently called “a terrific wankerer very fond of goats…”?