Sunday, October 09, 2016

Sunday's Trump-Clinton debate

I'll try to refrain from theater criticism over Sunday night's Presidential debate. Except to say that Trump's pacing around with a fierce scowl will play well with the White Power crowd, who can identify with that kind of mean-prison-guard image.

My favorite part of the debate was this from Hillary (Aaron Blake, Everything that was said at the second Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton debate, highlighted Washington Post 10/09/2016):

QUESTION: Good evening. Perhaps the most important aspect of this election is the Supreme Court justice. What would you prioritize as the most important aspect of selecting a Supreme Court justice?

RADDATZ: We begin with your two minutes, Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Thank you. Well, you're right. This is one of the most important issues in this election. I want to appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real-life experience, who have not just been in a big law firm and maybe clerked for a judge and then gotten on the bench, but, you know, maybe they tried some more cases, they actually understand what people are up against.

Because I think the current court has gone in the wrong direction. And so I would want to see the Supreme Court reverse Citizens United and get dark, unaccountable money out of our politics. Donald doesn't agree with that.

I would like the Supreme Court to understand that voting rights are still a big problem in many parts of our country, that we don't always do everything we can to make it possible for people of color and older people and young people to be able to exercise their franchise. I want a Supreme Court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose, and I want a Supreme Court that will stick with marriage equality.

Now, Donald has put forth the names of some people that he would consider. And among the ones that he has suggested are people who would reverse Roe v. Wade and reverse marriage equality. I think that would be a terrible mistake and would take us backwards.

I want a Supreme Court that doesn't always side with corporate interests. I want a Supreme Court that understands because you're wealthy and you can give more money to something doesn't mean you have any more rights or should have any more rights than anybody else.

So I have very clear views about what I want to see to kind of change the balance on the Supreme Court. And I regret deeply that the Senate has not done its job and they have not permitted a vote on the person that President Obama, a highly qualified person, they've not given him a vote to be able to be have the full complement of nine Supreme Court justices. I think that was a dereliction of duty.

I hope that they will see their way to doing it, but if I am so fortunate enough as to be president, I will immediately move to make sure that we fill that, we have nine justices that get to work on behalf of our people. [my emphasis]
Wow! How many years, decades now have the Dems been mealy-mouthing about "no litmus tests" while the Republicans have been outsourcing judicial selection to the rightwing Federalist Society? Overturning Citizens United, supporting voting rights, abortion rights, even same-sex marriage and not "always" siding with corporate interests: sounds like a decent litmus-test checklist for 2017 to me!

For me, the worst thing about the centrality of the melodrama in these debates is that on war-and-peace issues, the moderators largely give them a free pass. Trump sounded like he had practiced trying to sound dovish on Iraq and Libya, but all he did was to illustrate how discombobulated his hawk-dove stance is. Assuming we can call mindless bloviating a "stance."

But Hillary talked about Russia in Cold-War-bogeyman terms. And she said explicitly that she intended to set up both safe areas and no-fly zones inside Syria and made it sound like it was specifically to provoke a confrontation with Russia. She talked about how she didn't want more US ground troops there- except for Special Forces, which she mentioned are already operating there. I wonder how many voters are aware that US not-ground-troops-but-Special-Forces are fighting in the Syrian civil war right now on the side of dubious allies? Even though it's not even officially a secret.

And she said specifically she wanted to escalate support to Kurdish separatists, which to me instantly means trouble with Turkey, who is not only a NATO ally but is Angela Merkel's real plan to solve (?) the refugee problem, i.e., have Turkey take them. Which Turkey, of course, can pretty much decide at any moment they will stop doing if, say, their NATO ally the United States boosts support for Kurdish separatists who want a piece of Turkey for themselves.

If we had actual journalists at work at these debates, they might have asked a probing question or two about that stuff. Sadly, I'm not the least bit surprised that they didn't.

Also, it sounded like stereotypical "banana republic" stuff for Trump to talk about how he wanted to put Hillary in jail.

On the other hand, I'm not at all comfortable with the de facto immunity from legal accountability that is assumed for Presidents and other senior government officials. Like in Valerie Plane's outing as a CIA officer, for instance. Several senior Nixon Administration figures did time for criminal acts in office. And that wonderful moderate Jerry Ford who picked Rummy Rumsfeld for his chief of staff considered that Nixon himself needed to be covered from legal liability by a pardon. Now the political and media establishments are in agreement that all a President needs as a free pass to break the law is a cooperative opinion from some depraved character like John Yoo in the Office of Legal Counsel to write an official opinion that it's okay.

This is not a good thing. Think of what President Trump would do with that.

But none of this makes the Clinton pseudoscandals any less fraudulent, of course. And speaking of Nixon official that did time, I was reminded again tonight about John Dean's prediction that Obama's Republican FBI Director was likely to do political mischief with the e-mails hoopla. Although at this point none of that mischief is likely to make a difference in the outcome.

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