Point of View Columns

Autopsy of a Debate – What Hillary Should Have Said

In the aftermath of the first presidential debate of 2016 there is no end of commentary, spinning, more commentary and yet more spinning. Upon reflection in the bright light of the day, it would seem fair to say that if Hillary Clinton’s goal was to shake, rattle and roll Donald Trump then she definitely succeeded. If Donald Trump wanted to engrave his “Crooked Hillary” slogan into the consciousness of America, he was clearly waiting for the second debate to do so. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton left some money on the table as there were a few things that she should have said:

1. Presidential Look
When asked about his contention that Hillary Clinton did not look presidential, Trump said that she didn’t look presidential and didn’t have the stamina to be president. Hillary should have said:

“Donald, all 44 presidents of the United States have been male, 43 presidents have been white males. So I can understand why, from that limited perspective, a woman cannot look presidential. But I ask you to look around the world and through world history – Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and Angela Merkel have all been successful leaders of their countries, and the citizens of those countries thought they looked quite presidential. And, by the way, since you seem to like Russia so much, have you ever heard of Catherine the Great?”

2. It’s Just Business
When Hillary mentioned his not paying contractors and employees, Trump said it was “just business”. Hillary should have said:

Donald, you say that you are a successful businessman, but most successful businessmen pay their bills, they pay their contractors and they most certainly pay their employees. Certainly there are disputes over performance and delivery of service in business, but you have had a unique capacity to attract litigation while putting small business people out of business and leaving entire communities worse off because your business practices – all anyone has to do is to ask the citizens of Atlantic City.

And, by the way Donald was it just business to operate Trump University, which was never a legal university? Was it just business to recruit the students, actually the customers, of your fake university and tell them to max out their credit cards to learn the “secrets” of your success, secrets which turned out to be little more than rehashed versions of your same old, tired speeches?

Tell the American people Donald, is this kind of business the American people can expect from you if you should, heaven forbid, ever sit in the Oval Office.”

3. It is Smart Not to Pay Taxes

When Hillary suggested that the reason that Trump is not releasing his taxes because he does not pay federal income taxes, Trump stated that this made him smart. Hillary did mention that this would mean that he had paid zero dollars in support of troops, veterans, etc. Hillary could have also said:

“So Donald, I guess that since most Americans do pay their federal taxes, that means that most of us aren’t as smart as you. I guess that means that, by your definition, if Americans were as smart as you, we could end up with a tax noncompliance crisis just like Greece. Is that how you want to make America great again Donald? Do you really want to make America like Greece?”

4. Being a Birther is a Good Thing
Donald Trump actually said that he did Barack Obama did Barack Obama a favor in “forcing” him to show his birth certificate. Here is what Hillary should have said:

“Donald, you will never cease to amaze the American people. Do you think that we don’t realize that during your lifetime, during which there have been twelve presidents, there has never been a question about the birth certificate of the eleven white presidents, only the one black president?

Do you think that the American people don’t realize that during your primary campaign, you never, never, never asked to see the Ted Cruz birth certificate even though everyone knows that he was born in Canada? Is it because you like Ted Cruz so much, or just that Ted Cruz is not black?

Maybe you are not as smart as the American people after all”

That’s what Hillary should have said….and hopefully may still say in the next two debates.

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Point of View Columns

Are Women Missing in Action?

It is time to stop thinking that the spectacle of the Teapublican Party lurching ever farther to the right is a momentary phase that will soon be corrected by more moderate factions within that party and within this country. And while the cold blue flame of hatred for the very existence of Barack Obama in the White House may have fueled the initial conflagration, the fire has spread through a forest of policy issues, incinerating everything in sight. For an example we need look no further than the undeclared war on women that is now in full view.

During the past year we have witnessed the right wing of the right wing make the eradication of Planned Parenthood an article of faith during the Teapublican presidential campaign. That would be the same Planned Parenthood that provides millions of women with affordable health care that would otherwise simply not receive. While less than 5% of Planned Parenthood’s services have anything to do with the termination of pregnancies, the holy warriors of the right are demanding the death of this provider of vital services for women and girls – without any thought of accommodation or compromise.

Numerous local and state legislatures have engaged in the hideous charade of protecting the rights of the accused while redefining and restructuring the definition of rape. The results of this gerrymandering of the borders of sexual conduct will only make it more difficult for female victims of sexual abuse and rape to obtain justice. And the clear result (and the intent of the proponents of these changes) is that even more women will remain in the silent shadows of shame and fear knowing that Teapublican justice for women in just a hologram and not really there.

We have seen Saint Santorum and his fake apostles rail against contraception because it enables people to “engage in sexual behavior that they shouldn’t be doing”. It would be bad enough if this latter day Savonarola was content with controlling the sex lives of men and women. What is clear from his comments and those of his believers is that women should accept pregnancy that is the result of rape as a “gift from God” and that abolishing contraception will return women to their rightful childbearing, obedient and disenfranchised status.

As you are reading this the Teapublican majority in the United State House of Representatives blocked the attempt to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. This Act has been deemed responsible for reducing domestic violence rates by 58% since it was initially passed (with almost unanimous bipartisan support) in 1994 (how times have changed). That there could be any political philosophy that argues against preventing rape and violence against women is obscene. That the sewage-filled mainstream of American politics can seriously discuss denying health care to women and referring to pregnancies that are the result of rape as “gifts from God” is blasphemous and monstrous.

There is one thing missing from this sad and dismal landscape. Where are the female warriors who are leading the hand to hand battle to wrest the self-righteous standard from the clutches of the self-appointed wardens of women?

Where is the Queen Boudicca or Golda Meir or Harriet Tubman or Benazir Bhutto?
It is difficult for me to imagine Margaret Thatcher or Carrie Nation or Mary McLeod Bethune standing by in muted protest while the rights of women were being sacked and pillaged in broad daylight. Perhaps the successful struggles for the rights of women have left the movement tired and satisfied. Perhaps there has been a feeling that rights, once obtained, could never be taken back.

Frederick Douglass correctly stated that power concedes nothing without demand. The companion thought is that rights are never retained without power. And certainly, the history of humanity shows that the rights of women have never been freely accepted or granted. And so, the Teapublican assault on women should not have been a surprise.

Nevertheless, the “muted protest” of women is puzzling in the extreme. The Teapublican agenda regarding women is clear in its steel-toed strategy, kicking women back into line and into the 19th century. Misogynist and sexist thoughts that could not be openly spoken in the public arena a few years ago are now part of the public policy debate.

On this Planet Earth nothing is promised, nothing is guaranteed and nothing is forever. Women and men who believe that the rights of women are firmly embedded in the rights of all humanity need to wake up as the Teapublican fires threaten to burn down the forest of rights that it has taken so long to establish and preserve.

Remember November 6th!

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