Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Donald Trump’s Fall and Rise

A before and after look at the second debate—and the latest campaign controversy.

Before the Debate:

Two sensational revelations regarding the 2016 presidential candidates surfaced on Friday, ahead of last night’s second Trump-Clinton debate. One involved Clinton, the other Trump. Each revelation had the potential of affecting the outcome of the race.

Regarding Clinton, the revelation was the latest batch of WikiLeaks disclosures. It included excerpts of her speeches before Wall Street audiences, which she had refused to make public. Now we know why. They show her making nice-nice with her billionaire benefactors—no surprise there. After all, they paid her a standard fee of $225,000 per speech, for 92 speeches between 2013 and 2015, earning her $21.6 million in less than two years. How many of us could resist being nice-nice to nice people like that?

But the excerpts from her speeches also show her saying she is for “open borders,” which will not endear her to the majority of American voters. They show her admitting she often has a private position on issues (one satisfactory to her benefactors) different from her public position on those issues, which does nothing to repair her reputation as a liar (though it could not have come as a surprise to her benefactors, who are used to paying off two-faced politicians).

These and other revelations were potentially damning to Clinton’s chances in a deadlocked race, so the leftist media did what it had to do under the circumstances: it ignored the Clinton revelations and went unhinged on the Trump “revelation.” As a result, about the only place in the mainstream media where you will find discussion of the Clinton speeches is Fox News. Thankfully, as many people watch that cable news network as watch its two competitors combined, that is, the Clinton News Network (CNN) and MSDNC.

Stop the presses! Trump is a misogynist!

Trump’s career as a misogynist is an open book and has been discounted by his supporters in their dedication to bringing down the elitist politicians who have brought America itself down to its present state. But with the two major candidates pulling even in the voodoo polls, the leftist media had no choice but to make the most of the latest revelation. This was a dirty-boy conversation from 11 years ago, between Trump and a cousin of George W. and Jeb Bush. And so this is the first presidential election in which words like “pussy” are now part of the mainstream political conversation. Ah, progress in America.

Friends of mine know that I am no fan, at all, of Ted Cruz. But he is the only person I’ve seen so far, before the second debate, who has stated the obvious. He tweeted: “NBC had tape 11 yrs.  Apprentice producer says they have more & worse. So why not release in 2015? In March? Why wait till October? #MSMBias”

Indeed. Before, and particularly in the first debate, Trump had been his own worst enemy, responding like a narcissist with the spotlight turned on him rather than going on the offense against Clinton. But this time it is clearly an effort by the media to bring down the presidential candidate of a major party. And so we have the unhinged around-the-clock exclamations about how Trump’s locker-room banter from 11 years ago threatens the pristine virtue of America.

As the saying goes, “Give me a break!”

Presidents like Kennedy and Clinton did more than talk about groping women, they practiced it—and worse. But now people who voted for, or defended, these Presidents—and other politicians like the woman-killing Ted Kennedy—can strike poses of shock and horror at Trump’s words.  Politically correct philanderers and models of progressive sexual attitudes like Arnold Schwarzenegger can refuse to endorse the scoundrel. Politics is indeed a hothouse of fertilizer for hypocrisy.

The question is whether the mainstream media can have its way in this most exceptional electoral cycle. A Politico-Morning Consult poll, the first scientific survey to gauge voters’ immediate reactions to Trump’s comments, and taken on the Saturday after the revelation of Trump’s conversation, shows that even under the nonstop media barrage, just 12 percent of Republicans—and 13 percent of female Republicans—think that Trump should end his campaign, as urged by the never-Trumpers. And as a warning to GOP politicians like senators Ayotte and McCain, “Less than a third of voters are willing to give greater consideration to a candidate who un-endorses Trump.”

Stay tuned. The second debate is nearing.

After the Debate:

Hillary Clinton will always be able to out-point Donald Trump on policy matters. That is the advantage of being a politician for more than 30 years. “Slick Willie” has now been supplanted by slick Hillary. But most Americans expected that.

The difference in this debate, however, is that Trump fought back with passion, limiting her advantage with both zingers and policy contrasts. His policy positions are muddled, but hers are disingenuous at best. And with the possible exception of college and high-school debate contests, debates are rarely won on points. They are won with passion and—especially in the case of presidential debates—how you motivate your backers. And here Trump won the debate hands-down.

My viewing partner and I let our yells of joy and high-fived each other when Trump said if he is elected, there will be a thorough investigation of her email misdeeds and lies, and Clinton may well end up in jail. I suspect that reaction was happening in households and meetings all across the nation, as it did in the debate audience.The jail part will never happen, but millions of Trump’s followers and wannabe-followers are appalled by the collusion between the director of the FBI and the Obama-Clinton clique. I did not see anything in the debate that will motivate her followers in the same way.

For millions of viewers, this was probably the first they had heard of the WikiLeaks disclosures of Clinton’s speeches since discussion of that had been blacklisted by the leftist mainstream news media. We really don’t know if Trump’s support has been eroding since the first debate since we have only the word of the media and the voodoo polls on that, but if it was true, I expect the erosion will now stop and the race tighten again. So much will depend on economic news, foreign-policy setbacks, and any further WikiLeaks disclosures in the final month of this campaign.

Above all, we must remember that the election is mostly bread and circuses to distract us from issues that aren’t being discussed—the disposition of over $150 trillion in sovereign state debt, the largest bubble in the history of the world; how our own $20 trillion in debt is exploding at a rate that is unsustainable; the role of the Deep State in making the concept of “democracy” a joke; and how the neocons’ (Hillary included) policy of perpetual war is threatening us not only with national bankruptcy but the risk of a nuclear World War III. As Mark Twain or Emma Goldman said (take your pick as to who the real author was), “If voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”

David Franke was a founder of the conservative movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He is currently writing his magnum opus on the trajectory of conservatism and American politics during his lifetime.



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