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Monday, September 19, 2016

If We Believe the Worst About the Candidates

In this most bizarre and unfortunate election year, it behooves us all to try for some perspective. Many of us have lost friends, whether online or in what I gather is now called “meat space,” due to someone’s indignant inability to accept disagreement about the major party candidates. The following is a mental exercise that may or may not shed some light on the problem.

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that every claim and accusation made against both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is true. And let me immediately make a caveat I will repeat at intervals: I am NOT saying that any or all of these claims and accusations are in fact true, and I do not personally believe all of them. (I have no intention of saying which I find credible to any extent.)

Another caveat: I’ll almost certainly miss items in one or both lists. Feel free to supplement them in the comments.

Also: I’m leaving out actual political positions, which are in themselves enough to inspire passion both for or against either candidate.

First, Donald Trump. Various sources assert the following (which, again, I am NOT stating to be fact):
--He is a racist as regards blacks, Hispanics, and (if we ignore that Muslims are not a race) Muslims.
--He is a sexist.
--He mocks the disabled.
--He insults military heroes.
--He has encouraged people to doubt that Barack Obama was born in the U.S., as opposed to Kenya.
--He has made creepy suggestions of incestuous yearnings toward at least one daughter.
--He has grossly exaggerated his wealth and his track record of business success.
--He has made a habit of cheating people with whom he has business dealings, ruining some of them financially.
--His Trump University was an expensive scam.
--He understands little or nothing about our constitutional system, the role of Congress, or the nature of judges’ jobs.
--He has an extremely short attention span, a volatile temper, and a minimal verbal filter.
--He compulsively counter-punches when he feels attacked.
--He is a pathological narcissist.
--He encourages his supporters to physically attack protesters.
--He has suggested that his supporters might want to assassinate Hillary Clinton.
--He is a demagogue who hopes to become a dictator.
--He changes his positions frequently on short notice, and cannot be counted on to cleave to any he has presented.

Next, Hillary Clinton. Again, various sources make the following claims (which, once again, I am NOT endorsing):
--She has serious health challenges that affect her stamina, her comprehension, and her memory, and have left her easily confused about important matters. She has recently directed her staff, or allowed her staff, to lie about the reason for her collapse at the 9-11 memorial.
--She used her position as Secretary of State to sell government access and favors to various foreign and domestic figures. One of those sales involved turning over a quarter of the US supply of uranium to the Russians. Others benefited Islamic regimes who are less than fully friendly to the U.S.
--She grossly misjudged the results of deposing Libyan President Qaddafi, among other events.
--For reasons of her own or for no reason, she reduced the security of the embassy and other US installations in Libya despite multiple pleas to strengthen them.
--She lied to the American public and to the grieving loved ones of those killed in Benghazi as a result of her decisions.
--In order to conceal the influence-peddling mentioned above, she defied multiple warnings and used a private and vulnerable email server for years. This use included the knowing transmittal of classified material. Her server was very likely hacked by foreign governments. The information thus exposed may have contributed to the deaths of one or more Americans and/or American intelligence assets.
--She lied repeatedly about various matters connected to her email server and emails.
--She destroyed thousands of emails and refused to turn over others to federal authorities. Some of these emails concerned State Department business, but she lied about their contents.
--A few years after her husband Bill Clinton’s presidency, she was complicit in former Clinton advisor Sandy Berger’s theft of unique original classified documents from a National Archives reading room, documents that were never recovered.
--During her run for the presidency in 2007 and 2008, she used various surrogates to spread rumors that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and cast doubt about whether he was a Muslim rather than a Christian.
--She and Bill conspired to murder a series of people who posed some threat to them or stood in their way in some manner, including attorney Don Adams, former U.N. General Assembly President John Ashe, attorney Gandy Baugh, Admiral Jeremy Boorda, former DNC Chairman and Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, influential Texan James Bunch, informant Eric Butera, journalist Danny Casolaro, human rights activist Berta Caceres, retired Director of Central Intelligence William Colby, alleged lover (of Bill’s) Suzanne Coleman, reporter L.J. Davis, filmmaker David Drye, DNC fundraiser Daniel A. Dutko, attorney and fundraiser Hershell Friday, Deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, . . . The list goes on, with the most recent additions including Julian Assange’s attorney John Jones and attorney Shawn Lucas (representing Bernie Sanders’ supporters in a fraud action against the DNC).

Phew.

From this exhaustive list – which, I once again repeat, I do not claim to be true – we can draw the following conclusions:
--If more than a small fraction of either lists is in fact true, we are so screwed. Or, to cling to some ray of hope, it is time for the members of the Electoral College, once chosen in the November election, to step up and save the country by casting their votes for someone else, as they have the power to do (though whether those votes would count is unclear and may vary by state of origin). Any likely electors should be caucusing now to consider the possibilities.
--Your friends or former friends who support the candidate you oppose probably believe at least some of these claims about the candidate you support. The sources on which you rely have not convinced them otherwise, because they and you trust different sources.

--Finally, an assessment with which others may differ: if every one of these claims about both candidates were in fact true (which – one more time – I am not asserting), I would consider Hillary Clinton to be, by a fairly close margin, an even worse choice than Donald Trump. God help us all.