PoliticsCan Someone Explain How Donald Trump Is the Trustworthy One?
Tonight, expect more outright lies.
Remember in 2004 when Howard Dean lost all political momentum and possibility his bid for the White House after a single YAWWWWW! went awry in Iowa? Ah, the good old days in American politics, when no one was punched in the face and we got a funny GIF out of it. That's certainly not the case anymore. Today, one of the two nominees for the presidency can stand in the middle of Manhattan's 5th Avenue and shoot someone and his supporters wouldn't care.
It shows how radically far we've drifted from legitimate debate. Indeed, this election has, above all else, exposed the underbelly of American disillusionment. Ever since Trump announced his candidacy for presidency with the first racist salvo of his many campaign promises, the landscape of American politics has receded to a series of insults we'd come to expect if both Martin Shkreli and Paula Dean were inhaling nitrogen dioxide.
What's recently happened to our political system—and what will almost certainly be on display at tonight's debate at Hofstra University, where WiFi is said to be going for $200—is that we've hit an inflection point in the way we interpret what it means to be an American, as well as a vocal bigot, which many credible journalists, such as Times two-time Pulitzer-prize winning writer Nicholas Kristof, have investigated.
Much of this has to do with the ubiquitousness of extreme political blogs and social media outlets becoming the daily news fix for millions of Americans. Outlets such as the Drudge Report and Breitbart have clogged the major arteries of a segment of the American public's mind so much that our language has been manipulated to the point that we oftentimes speak past each other with no common ground. We've witnessed and possibly even took part in these debates with friends, family members, and stranger for the past 15 months, from the inane (Skittles) to the, well, also inane (why a Gold-Star mother didn't speak to a convention crowd).
Yet, these debates we Americans squabble over each week seem to me less shocking than the fact that, according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Donald Trump is viewed by likely voters to be more honest than Hillary Clinton by a ten-point margin.
Let that sink in. The former Secretary of State and first lady is hardly a saint, but is Clinton's credibility really ten points less than a man who, just to name a few instances:
Spent the past five years leading a charge to undermine the country's first black president with categorically false claims that he wasn't born in America, that he was/is a Muslim (while also insinuating how this is a bad thing)?
Abused a charitable foundation for personal and political profit?
Continually refuses to release his tax returns because they would paint him in a bad light?
Is still in the midst of an ongoing trial for deceiving thousands of victims in a massive fraud scandal (also known as Trump University)?
Who literally made a central theme of his best-selling book about his propensity to lie?
And who has insisted at his rallies that "places like Afghanistan are safer than some of our inner cities?"
Again, this is the candidate that's currently seen as more trustworthy.
And after the Republicans tried to pin the email scandal on Bengazi, a non-partisan Congressional report in June 2016 found no new evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya. Zero. None. Nevertheless, Republicans still couldn't put the issue to rest, as they continue berating her with the matter. The result? According to a poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson, half of all Trump supporters believe the disproved notion that Mrs. Clinton knew the 2012 Benghazi attacks were going to happen before they did, and subsequently chose not to act. And that is exactly how the sleaziest man in America has come to be viewed as more honest than a woman who's dedicated her life to public service. It's a belief predicated on a lie.
For those in the GOP who are still livid over Clinton's email use during her time as Secretary of State, do you really not remember the presidency of George W. Bush? And I'm not even talking about Iraq, the worst foreign policy decision ever made by a president, and one that was built on a monstrous lie. Rather, I'm referring to the dozens of White House staffers (including Karl Rove) who improperly used email accounts provided by the RNC, which were solely intended to be for political use only, thus evading public-record requirements. In essence, knowingly hiding information from the American people. Later, Rove and Co. reportedly went on to delete some 22 million emails, thus making the same mistakes Clinton did. So where were the millions spent on a Senate investigation back then? And the public outcry? And, if we're fair, the intense media scrutiny? Did Matt Drudge take that week off?
And here we are, on the morning of the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump, faced with perhaps the most qualified candidate for president we've had in history, and a businessman who, just in the past week, knowingly lied in public at least 87 times.