Op-ed: The downward trajectory

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, October 8, 2016 3:14pm
  • Opinion

Shouldn’t we be coming up with a catchy slogan to capture what lies ahead before the big campaign wrap-up on Election Day? How about “Onward and Downward,” or perhaps “The Worst Is Yet to Come”? It might be hard to believe, but it’s entirely possible things will get even more ugly, more grotesque, before we finally get to select to be president one of two candidates. The two range somewhere between dreary and embarrassing. Who knows what insults to our system will stain the remaining days?

Actually, we do know what’s coming up: the remaining debates, two more chances for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to display their qualifications and character, or lack thereof. This next one is a so-called town hall, where we pretend that “real people” have any input whatsoever. That’s as opposed to “unreal people” — the politicians, the pundits, the consultants, the oligarchs, those who really determine who runs our nation into the ground.

Will Donald Trump undo the damage Hillary did to him the first time around, and the damage he did to himself in the days following? Excitement is at a fever pitch. That was hardly the case for the vice-presidential debate. Who was the winner of the Tim Kaine-Mike Pence borefest? Actually, it was Major League Baseball, which mercifully provided an exciting alternative viewing option. The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles with a home run. The debate, on the other hand, was ho-hum. The consensus, by the way, was that Mike Pence was the winner. Kaine, Hillary’s guy, seemed strident as he tried to nail Pence to the many outrages of the Trumpster. The Penster managed to have amnesia about all of them, which is remarkable. Now, the two of them once again disappear into their warm buckets of vice-presidential oblivion while the two principals hog the spotlight.

Donald Trump’s latest piggishness included his physical impression of Hillary Clinton’s stumble when she fell ill during September 11 ceremonies. His performance brought to mind his mocking of a disabled reporter, so many disgusting appearances ago. And the latest Clinton blunder comes not from Hillary, but from Bill Clinton, aka The Loose Cannon. There he was, speaking in Flint, Michigan, when Obamacare came up. What he said was definitely off the reservation: “So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world.” “Craziest thing in the world” is not exactly the message that Hillary, President Barack Obama and the Democrats have been peddling these many years about the Affordable Care Act. It is the one that the Republicans relentlessly have, and we can be sure that his words will be featured in the GOP ads that will pollute our TV screens in the days ahead.

If you haven’t already, make it a point to see the video of President Obama impatiently yelling at Bill Clinton to end his tarmac schmoozing in Israel so that Air Force One could wing its way back to Washington. Given Clinton’s tendency these days to open mouth and insert foot, it would not be a surprise if some Hillary staffers were wishing that the plane would have taken off without him.

The campaign flight has less than a month to go. Instead of soaring, the souring of the American people will finally culminate with the vote, those who decide that they’re not too disgusted to stay away. The biggest motivation is the fear that those who are enthusiastic enough to cast their ballots will be the “Deplorables.” If they manage to elect Donald Trump due to Hillary Clinton malaise, we will find out just how low we have yet to go.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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