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John Zaring: Off come the wheels!

Posted: October 1, 2016 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 1, 2016 2:00 a.m.

On Monday night at Hofstra University, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump started strong in his debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and for a solid 20 minutes or so even managed to look presidential.

Before a record TV audience of over 80 million, Trump smacked Clinton hard on her evolving trade positions, and for the DNC’s rough treatment of her vanquished primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Except for the occasional chuckle, Clinton appeared content to let The Donald have the floor. She just bided her time, responding calmly and unemotionally, and only when necessary.

As the first half hour ended and moderator Lester Holt of NBC began to press both candidates on the issues, a nervous sniffle and wheeze developed which, as Trump became more and more agitated, led to face scrunching and mugging.
Clinton knew Trump couldn’t keep it together for 90 minutes, and he didn’t disappoint her.

Before long, Clinton started dropping red meat at his feet, and like a dumb and hungry lion he pounced, locked his jaws and wouldn’t let go.

With “let Trump be Trump” fully unleashed, before long he was spinning himself into intricate patterns with the same amazing skill that the fictional spider Charlotte used in building her famous web. In the process, his obvious lack of knowledge was laid bare for all to see.

At least, for anyone who isn’t ingloriously reveling in Trump’s “basket of deplorables.”

That’s when the far more politically experienced Clinton began pummeling Trump with his own words, which Trump, of course, claimed were false.

Not surprisingly, he couldn’t refrain from interrupting his opponent with mumbled protests and denials, getting more and more agitated as she basically ignored him.

Political fact-checkers across America spent the days that followed juxtaposing his debate denials against the mountains of audio and video clips, straight-up quotes and on-the-internet Tweets proving to anyone who cares to listen that Trump is a liar. A voracious, reckless and ego-driven liar.

The wheels started to come off at Hofstra and kept coming off as this week wore on. He threatened – as he did toward the end of the debate – to start attacking Clinton for her husband’s infidelities, but ultimately left it to Rudy “I cheated on my wife too” Guiliani to do his dirty work.

That is, until Friday around 5 a.m., when he launched a series of nutty Tweets, including one that tipped off his hordes of fans to possible sex tapes featuring the Miss Universe he once derided as “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” (because of her Venezuelan heritage).

It was predictable, of course, and almost sad to watch. Really sad, quite honestly, if you respect the presidency and believe seeking the office is serious business.

Republicans – real, actual conservatives, not the angry old white bigots who registered as Republicans to vote for Heir Trump in the primaries – must be kicking themselves for not taking him seriously a year ago when the Trump Train left gold-plated Trump Station.

Let’s be honest: John Kasich would be kicking Hillary’s butt right now.

The question I am forced to ask is … does Trump really want to be president?

In my opinion, the answer must be a flat and emphatic no. Otherwise, why would he be behaving this way, why turn off those suburban women you so desperately need to vote for you by introducing sex tapes into the political ether (yes, he did that)?

Why even keep yakking about the one-time Miss Universe from Venezuela, keeping her relevant and booked on every talk show? Why remind people that they used to sympathize with Hillary when Bill dragged her into the mud?

Why? Why? Why?!

Since the debate, Republicans like George H. W. Bush, who was knocked out of office after one term by Hillary’s husband Bill, and conservative-leaning editorial boards all across America have been flocking to Clinton.

USA Today newspaper, owned by the uber-conservative Gannett Company, ran a front-page editorial that screamed, “Trump is unfit to serve as president.” Even the leading newspapers in blood-red Phoenix, Arizona, and Dallas, Texas, have endorsed Clinton.

Hillary Clinton has issues, and she is far from perfect. The Rational Center has identified some of her flaws in prior columns.

But, folks, it is no longer acceptable to pretend that Donald Trump is even in her league. He just isn’t. He is a mess. He is, I think, a threat to our country, our way of life, our humanity. And no, this isn’t just hyperbole.

And those of you who love Gary Johnson? Nope, sorry, he’s played the “oops” game one time (or maybe five times) too many.

I could have lived with Mitt Romney (and boy, he must be kicking himself for not running), Jeb Bush or even Marco Rubio, and Kasich would have had my endorsement.

But Trump? This man falls short in so many ways, and if you can’t see that by now, if the preponderance of evidence hasn’t yet convinced you that this time, just this one time, you can’t support this Republican nominee for president, than you deserve a seat in that damn basket.

Supporting Trump is deplorable.

John Zaring’s columns are called too conservative by liberals and too liberal by conservatives — thus his claim to “The Rational Center.” A Democrat and resident of the SCV since 2000, he is a founding member of the Hart District’s WiSH Education Foundation and has served on the district’s Advisory Committee for five years. He lives in Castaic.




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