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US election: Does character override everything else?

| Updated: October 21, 2017 06:34:32


US election: Does character override everything else?

Donald Trump's second presidential debate this past Sunday night (October 09) could have been far worse. In the end, the debate was not the dramatic cataclysm that everyone was bracing for. Prior to the debate, for 72 hours, the world news was dominated by Trump's vile comments caught on tape in 2005, about a television personality, Nancy O'Dell. The unaired tape revealed his candid conversation about O'Dell and others in explicit sexual terms. He also boasted about groping women and how women let him get away with such conducts because of his celebrity status. At the time, Donald was a married man and tried to cheat on his wife Melania by actively pursuing O'Dell, a married woman. The disclosure came from the Washington Post this past Friday. 
The timing couldn't be any worse, especially when women in general are upset about the outcome of UN Secretary-General Selection process. With seven capable women whose names were being tossed around for months as a possible successor of outgoing Ban Ki-moon, the male dominated UN chose a male candidate instead of a female. It has become clear that none of the women were really seriously considered for the position. Following that, Donald Trump's sexist remarks and portrayal of women as mere sex objects have added insult to injury, and women are raising the age-old issue of gender equality in every field, including high places. They are feeling vulnerable about progress and about their place in society. Women across America are now furious with Trump all over again - is there any hope for him to win the presidential race on November 08?
The presidential debate took place at 9:00 pm (US EST). Many parents, anticipating a mudslinging type of a debate put their children to bed early because they didn't want them to see any of it. By now, everyone knows what was said by Donald in that audio tape while on a bus with a TV host named Billy Bush. I, for one, am relieved that the much hyped anticipation about character assassination by both candidates, and the fall of Donald Trump didn't happen on Sunday night on live TV to the disappointment of many. For the first twenty minutes, the issue of Donald Trump's tape and Bill Clinton's liaisons with other women before and during his White House years came up. Hillary simply avoided answering the question by quoting what her friend Michelle Obama once told her: 'When they go low, you rise high.' As for Donald, he said, it was 'locker room talk' that he has apologised for to his family, and that he has respect for women. That was the end of the discussion about the verbal banter and sexually aggressive comments caught on tape. It didn't really put a tailspin to the debate. The candidates moved on to answer questions set forth by the undecided voters who were chosen by the Gallup Organisation in the Saint Louis area. Donald started with how he is going to destroy ISIS; Hillary answered the questions that were asked of her. 
However, during this presidential campaign, the political decorum has been destroyed for the first time in many years, and Trump is singularly responsible for doing so. The Republican establishment has been trampled upon, as the pro-Donald faction of the voters registered their distaste for the traditional GOP.
In all fairness to Donald Trump, he is not the first nor will he be the last US presidential candidate whose name is associated with scandal. In 1988, the Democratic frontrunner Gary Hart withdrew his candidacy after the tawdry story detailing his dalliance with a model named Donna Rice was published in the Miami Herald. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton's married lives proved less than blissful. Their respective wives were devastated to discover they were having affairs with White House secretaries, interns and other young women. Some of them, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton, maintained the public front of a married couple. The White House presidential aids usually kept the indiscretions of the presidents under wrap; with Bill Clinton, it became public knowledge on the national as well as the global stage.
Is character or policy more important in a presidential candidate? The character and the private lives of the presidential candidates and presidents are put under the microscope because the public wants to see the best of us in them as the leader of the country. The Gary Hart private love story started a new era in political journalism where a presidential candidate's 'character' is deemed to be the ultimate measure to assess his/her ability and fitness to serve the nation as its leader. Any realm of the candidate's existence, private or public, is fair game for reporters, analysts and opinion writers.
We feel disappointed when political candidates show weakness just like ordinary human beings by giving into temptations and forgetting their marriage vows. There are hundreds and thousands of married men everywhere who are flirting with or hitting on other married women. In Donald Trump's case, an eleven-year-old tape making obscene remarks about a married woman's body part matters because he is a presidential candidate. At the time Donald was a 59-year-old man with daughters and a pregnant wife. The reference to women's body parts in such vulgar way is not simply acceptable from someone who wants to be the president. It seems like people like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump never got over their adolescent fantasies about women and as married men they both have displayed extremely perverse behaviour by choosing to carry on rendezvous with other women. Their actions have humiliated their wives, embarrassed their families and disappointed the American public and especially the women voters. These two boys never grew into men and hardly learned to respect women. 
Donald has married three times and two of his wives are former models. He has been around gorgeous-looking women for many years as he was involved with several beauty pageants. Instead of appreciating beautiful women, he has demeaned them every chance he got including former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado for 'gaining massive amount of weight.' He then called her 'Miss Piggy' and 'Miss Housekeeping' for being a Latina. Donald regularly refers to women in offensive term and has displayed sexist behaviour in dealing with them and feels no remorse. He makes crude jokes about women that are very sexual in nature and falls under harassment. When challenged, he laughs off the questions by saying he doesn't have 'time for political correctness.'
Though people by now are used to Donald's sleaziness, this particular revelation about the audio recording has upset people of every gender because he degraded an entire sex by mocking them. His party members had called for his resignation; it had no impact because he has little or no sense of decency. It appears he doesn't know the difference between virtue and vice. 
Right after the debate, within minutes, his Vice Presidential pick Mike Pence twitted to claim he was proud to support Donald Trump. Only on Friday, after the story of the offensive tape broke, he refused to support Donald and offered to pray for his family instead at this difficult time. Politicians everywhere are multi-faced; the voters do take their pious pronouncements with a grain of salt. 
Only less than four weeks away, this presidential race has by far been the most talked-about one around the world. Right from the get-go, Donald has outraged people with his insensitive and ugly remarks. He attacked women, minority (Mexicans, Muslims, and Latinos in general), the disabled, and the immigrants. He called them things that no presidential candidate ever came close to calling. But he is still here fighting for the most coveted position in the US. In this sense, he is unlike any other presidential candidate. 
Donald Trump's new tape has done irrevocable damage to his chances of winning the presidency. Hillary is leading 46-35 in the latest polls, with a double-digit lead. 
Trump has broken every rule in the book with his comments about women and possibly his treatment of women. Most Republicans believe in a core set of conservative ideals and they want to see a president who upholds family values, can be a role model and respects women. When his own VP candidate sternly rebukes him for his offensive comments about a married woman who was a TV host and refuses to back him on this, what else is needed to make it clear that Trump is not the president America is looking for? The October 09 town hall-type debate proved beyond doubt that a volatile Trump was not ready to back down. Donald Trump's karma has come back to haunt him. We all know the adage, 'what goes around, comes around.'
Abraham Lincoln will be remembered for abolishing slavery, for his honesty and wisdom. If elected, what will Donald Trump be remembered for? Since my coming to the US in the fall of 1978, I have seen six presidents. Jimmy Carter would be remembered for being a straight shooter from the Plains, Georgia and for dealing with the Iranian revolution. Ronald Reagan and Bush Senior would be remembered for bringing the Soviet Union as we knew it to an end. Skipping Bill Clinton, Bush Jr. would be remembered for invading Iraq. In the most likely scenario of Donald Trump losing to Hillary Clinton, would mark this race as the most talked-about presidential race in American history. The founding fathers in their wildest dream hadn't imagined such a turn of events for choosing the leader of the free world.
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