Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Final Days of Donald Trump

Until a few weeks ago, historians of the US presidency were fixed on Donald Trump’s meteoric and unpredictable rise.  Now they will have to focus on his meteoric and unpredictable descent.  October 7, 2016 will be remembered as the day Donald Trump effectively lost the election when his contemptuous, disgusting view of women, though well known years ago, came fully into public view with the release of a video that captured his “extremely lewd” (Washington Post) words.  Trump’s retreat—an apology that made the laughable claim that “everyone who knows me” knows he is really not a misogynist—was a charade, since everyone knows Trump never really apologizes.

Now the Republican Party chorus line of Trump supporters is again in a pickle: Do we or don’t we dump Trump?  Can we dump Trump?  (Almost certainly not.)  As of October 9, 44 Republican members of Congress, governors, and former officials had disavowed their previous endorsement of him, and a few even called for Trump to step down in favor of Mike Pence (who said he felt “offended” by Trump’s remarks but, incredulously, hoped the second debate would “show what is in his heart”).  House speaker Paul Ryan was so “sickened” that he disinvited Trump from a campaign event in Wisconsin; Pence refused to attend in Trump’s place.  But most Republican leaders rolled their eyes and, as on previous occasions when Trump has said stupid, ugly things, continued by their silence to support him.

The second presidential debate thus took on new drama.  Would Hillary Clinton shake Trump’s hand?  (She didn’t when they took the stage, but did at the end.)  Could the town-hall style debate focus meaningfully on any topic other than his attitude toward women?  (It did.)  Would he try to refocus the debate on Bill Clinton’s affairs?  (He tried.)  Pity the moderators.

The Trump video is the second gift he has handed to Hillary Clinton.  The first one was his candidacy: Had the Republicans put anyone other than Trump (or Ted Cruz) up for the presidency, I believe Hillary would have lost the election.  Now the video, a second gift not only because of its damaging contents, but also because it hit the press at exactly the same time as some very damaging WikiLeaks emails that reveal Clinton’s coziness with Wall Street, which paid her very well to reassure bankers and corporate leaders of her support of free trade deals and their self-regulation.  She is recorded making a distinction between her public and private views—and her private views turn out to be anything but progressive. But the Trump video stole the headlines, and was the first topic in the second debate.

Notes on the Second Debate

Only by taking into account Trump’s near-impossible situation might we say that he did better than expected.  But in fact he was his usual self: unrepentant, repetitive, and consistently unwilling to give direct answers to questions.  He tried to hold Clinton responsible for just about every problem, from inner-city poverty and crime to chaos in the Middle East and even his ability to use the tax regulations to avoid paying federal taxes.  His best moments were attacking her on the private emails and her unfortunate remark to donors about Trump’s support by “deplorables.”  His worst moments were his dismissal of moderator Anderson Cooper’s question that suggested Trump was guilty of “sexual assault” by insisting the video merely showed “locker room talk” (he used that phrase four times); his baffling shift from the video to boasting that he will “knock the hell out of ISIS”; and his promise that if elected he would appoint a special prosecutor on Clinton’s emails, telling her “You’d be in jail.”

Clinton held her ground when criticized.  She showed poise, patience, and precision, and repeatedly stressed her 30-plus years of public service, particularly on behalf of women, children, and minorities.  Clinton’s strategy on the infamous video, well advised in my view, was not to “pile on,” though the first question on a president’s “appropriate behavior” did lead her to say—after Trump made his usual proclamation that “nobody has more respect for women”—that the video “represents exactly who he is,” a man who “insults, ranks, and embarrasses women.”

Public and foreign policy issues did get some attention, though nothing new emerged in the well-known positions of the candidates.  Obamacare, immigration, taxes, Syria, the next Supreme Court nominee, and energy were discussed.  Trump did raise eyebrows when he disagreed with Pence, who has urged further US military action in Syria, and when he again defended Russia, suggesting that perhaps no hacking at all had occurred and that Russia and Bashir al-Assad are simply engaged in “killing ISIS.”  (But then Trump said, “I know nothing about Russia,” which is surely correct.)  And when debating energy policy, Trump claimed “EPA is putting the energy companies out of business,” which must be news to Exxon-Mobil et al., whereas Clinton offered a plan for transitioning to clean energy, relying more on natural gas and coal now but focusing on fighting climate change.

Nothing in the second debate suggests a change in the trend to Clinton nationwide.  Trump’s supporters will not flee his sinking ship, but Clinton will probably make further gains among minorities, women, and independents.  His long history of misogyny has caught up with him, and I cannot imagine that anything might happen to change that reality between now and election day.

More articles by:

Mel Gurtov is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, Editor-in-Chief of Asian Perspective, an international affairs quarterly and blogs at In the Human Interest.

October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail