What can I say? She was dressed for surgery, and she cleanly removed his very last chance to get back into this race.
Then again, by choosing "suspense" over democracy, he assisted brilliantly.
So here are the morning-after-the-debate questions I woke up with. They're all for Donald Trump, because Hillary Clinton just had an okay-boring, Hippocratic kind of night: she did no harm to herself or her opponent.
1. Last night, both Trump and his surrogates were loaded for bear about the issue of sexual assault in America, to the point of flying in a panel of Bill Clinton’s long-running accusers; expressing outrage at the media for not showering their old allegations with new coverage, and so forth. But prior to the Access Hollywood audio tape's landing him in the deep end of the jacuzzi, had Trump, at any point in his campaign, highlighted the issue of sexual assault? Had he even mentioned it? (Mexican rapists don’t count.)
2. On that hastily-convened panel of anti-Clintonistas, there were three women (Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones) who had made direct claims against Bill Clinton. But a fourth woman, Kathleen Shelton, was present because Hillary Clinton had, as a twenty-something court-appointed lawyer, successfully defended the man who raped Shelton when she was twelve. It’s easy to understand why Shelton hates Hillary Clinton. But from the Trump campaign’s perspective, exactly what was she doing there? What anti-Hillary blow does she strike? Are lawyers who defend men accused of assaulting women to be morally equated with the men themselves? Is Trump planning to rewrite the rules of the criminal-defense bar? Should women defense lawyers not take on sex-crime cases, or just advocate poorly for their clients? What’s the idea there?
I know that in a scrupulously logic-free campaign, such points are laughably arcane. But last night, it did look as if Team Trump had just sort of tossed Shelton into a generalized sexual-assault salad to be thrown in Hillary Clinton’s face. If so, that strikes me as a whole new, more calculated magnitude of gross — much more gross than the “banter" in the Access Hollywood locker room on wheels.
3. As for Willey, Broaddrick and Jones: what exactly is Trump alleging that Hillary Clinton herself did to each of these individuals relative to each of their very different claims?
Yes, yes, I know, she "enabled" years of Bill's sexcapades and plainly guaranteed his political survival of them, in part by participating in the general discrediting of "other women" whom she had to have considered at least somewhat credible. This is not grounds for nomination to the Feminist Hall of Fame. For some people, it is grounds for disqualification from the presidency -- or additional grounds, since few such people like anything else about Hillary Clinton, either. But for the rest of us, ninety-five per cent of this stuff speaks to the character of the former president, and not the (likely) future president. And one hundred per cent of it is gum that has Already Been Chewed.
So: Even at this very late date, if there is something that is truly new, specific, and Hillary-centric to add to the previously published chapters of this sad saga, let's hear it. Otherwise, could we please get back to our plans to get the African-Americans and the Hispanics out of hell?
4. Leaving the sexual-predator portion of our program: How does Trump know that Hillary has hate in her heart? Was that declaration — along with branding his opponent to be the devil — some kind of semantic shout-out to evangelical Christians? If so, I would be curious to know how it landed. The evangelicals I’ve encountered over the years have usually been very eager to emphasize that no matter how harshly they might condemn people for certain actions, no one but God can really know what is in another person’s heart. So the Biblical bent of Trump’s most personal attacks struck me as odd.
5. Whether or not Trump is really as rich as he says he is, can this man not afford an antihistamine?
Even though this blog is called Knickertwist, I did not envision commentary that actually centered upon a presidential candidate’s actual handicapping of his odds of getting into various women’s pants. Yet here I am typing such commentary, and in my very first post. Ah, 2016! Good times!
Who ever would have thought that Access Hollywood would launch the October Surprise?
Clearly, Nancy O’Dellgate is a disaster for the candidacy of Donald Trump and for the Republican Party, some voices in which are now calling for that candidacy to end. But however bad this development is for the GOP as a whole, it does serve a handy immediate purpose for what might be termed the Ayotte wing of the party: those profiles in courage who have been twisting themselves in knots since the primaries, trying to achieve distance from Trump without disavowing him. (Of course, there are enough of these pretzels, from House Speaker Paul Ryan on down, to form a new division of Frito-Lay. But no one has contorted more excruciatingly or cravenly than Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, so in my book, it’s her wing.)
What does this latest Ewwww from the Donald do for the Ayottians?
For a good many days now, it has been obvious that Trump is going to lose this election.
Even if Hillary Clinton had not risen from her sickbed to cudgel him senseless with half her brain in the first debate...and even if he hadn’t then proceeded to unspool a string of gaping stupidities `a la body-shaming the Latina ex-beauty queen….Clinton would still have a tremendous advantage in terms of money and organization going into the home stretch, and that alone would have made things very competitive. But she did cudgel. He did unspool. That money and organization are all still there, probably bigger than before…and all of that makes things seem pretty darn decided. If it ain’t over until the fat lady sings, it feels quite safe enough for fat ladies across America to be crowing already.
Here’s the thing, though: Since the first debate, Trump has been going about the business of losing in such an ambient, tsunami-at-the-nuclear-power-plant way as to make his endorsers fear the rising levels of toxicity in their own political blood. Once Hillary had put the 9/11 pneumonia swoon behind her, the distancing-versus-disavowal question had clearly settled itself on the side of disavowal. Yet, up until revelations of Trump’s “locker room banter” with Bush 43’s anchor-cousin Billy, it was hard to see how to go about it.
After all, none of these people could express upset that Trump is a racist, xenophobic, trade-trashing, tax-weaseling, NATO-bashing, Putin-smooching, planet-pissing-on jackass; everybody has known this all along. So how to cut and run?
Enter Access Hollywood, with the final straw: He’s a creepy misogynist into his mic! For all you out there who thought the dog/slob/pig/fat-Machado/Megyn-Kelly’s-menstruation references were just for show, here is proof positive that Donald Trump is really, truly gross about women!
“That’s the deal breaker?” you may well ask. “He wants to ban Muslims, build a wall, and renegotiate our franchise deal with NATO — but being verbally crude about a few females is the unpardonable sin?"
Not, God knows, that I remotely condone that crudeness. I don't even like frat-boy talk from frat boys, let alone harassment giggles from predators. It’s just that for me, a scandal is not a scandal if it exposes nothing new. If Mike Pence were to be heard making such utterances, that would be a shocker. Donald Trump? I, for one, would have felt almost disoriented if he had not duly scrutinized and summarized the gluteal, mammary and vaginal properties of any woman in his vicinity.
This October Surprise is no surprise. But for any Ayotte worth her pretzel-salt , it could be a silver lining.