It’s not unusual for one of the US presidential candidates to be unpopular, but this time both are spectacularly unpopular.
This may be the first election won by the less hated contestant. Each has devoted followers, but large numbers of voters have deep and relevant concerns about both of them.
Trump has been amusing, like a drunken uncle making a speech at a wedding reception. But he has relied on hurling childish insults at his opponents and has never given a single straight answer to any question, and instead of providing convincing details about policies, makes generalised, exaggerated promises, which he expects the public to accept without question.
Read: How Trump is leading America by the nose (Part I)
Everything will be “beautiful” and/or “amazing”. There’s never a shadow of doubt about anything, everything will work perfectly, because he says so. As he talks, he waves his little hands in strangely graceful, dainty gestures.
Although he has some specific criticisms of Hillary, these get lost among his exaggerations. Although he personally exhibits all the features we hate about politicians, he is proud of not technically being a politician. He insists on blaming Hillary for everything bad in America, an odd thing to say about an opponent as it implies that she is brilliant and powerful enough to singlehandedly do all these things.
Clinton is unlikeable and not in the least endearing, and when she tries to be warm it’s just creepy. She’s not really a “people person”, and much prefers reading and studying policies. She’s very well informed but can be clumsy. In the primaries she was very unappealing.
Read: Bill Clinton: ‘First Husband’ or ‘First Gentleman’?
Her speeches are often shrill and far too loud and strident. She has a most irritating habit of walking around on the stage, a rictus of glee fixed on her face, pointing vacuously to random people in the audience as if profoundly thrilled to find them present. Many people feel she is untrustworthy, and unfortunately she had the misfortune of getting involved in a number of unfortunate and controversial dealings.
Ineffective and distracted
At the start of the debate Trump was unusually calm and mild-mannered. For the first time he had switched from a flaming red tie to a bright blue one. He was also far less orange than usual, though still sporting the large pale panda patches where his goggles shelter him from the spray tan.
His hair was paler and almost looked normal from some angles. However, Hillary soon got under his skin and he naturally took the bait, becoming increasingly ineffective and distracted. He became like an eager puppy, trying to rush off in all directions at once. Soon he was looking very uncomfortable and crestfallen. He started sniffing deeply and sipping a lot of water. For a man who regularly criticises others for lack of stamina, he didn’t seem to have much himself.
Read: How Trump is leading America by the nose (Part II)
He later whined that there had been problems with his microphone, although nobody noticed anything. But our Donald never admits any error and never apologises. Though many people worry about his emotional instability, he emphasised that he has “a winning temperament”. Though he usually uses short words and simple sentences, he managed to deny that he is “braggadocious” (braggadocio = a braggart).
Where are his tax returns?
Trump was unable to complete any rational argument. He also hadn’t bothered to do his homework and preparation, and probably thought he could get away with making it all up as he went along. In his responses to her challenges he accidentally admitted more than he needed to, and when she suggested he may not have paid taxes at all for a long time, his proud response was, “That makes me smart.” When she reminded him how often he has used bankruptcy for his own profit, he crowed, “This is business.” And instead of letting his errors fade away, he kept on revisiting them, blaming other people.
He tries to present himself as an advocate for change, though he’s never changed anything – except for changing the topic when he doesn’t want to, or is unable to answer a question. This brings us to his tax returns, something he’s very cagey about. He’s the first candidate since Nixon who hasn’t made them public, leading most people to assume that he’s hiding something.
Read: Trump: Make America beautiful again
Is he perhaps not as rich as he claims? Perhaps he’s not as generous to charities as he claims. How high are his debts, and to whom does he owe money? He’s superbly contradictory and claims he can’t release them till his tax audit is complete. But he then goes on to say he’s audited almost every year and vows to release all documents as long as Hillary releases the 30,000 emails she allegedly deleted. I fail to understand how anyone can produce emails that were deleted when even the FBI could not recover them?
Trump furthermore kept on rudely, but ineffectively, interrupting her. In a
masterpiece of hypocrisy, he blatantly stated that he might at some point raise
the matter of Bill Clinton’s affairs – then congratulated himself on being
subtle about the matter. About as subtle as a tsunami!
won this debate by a large margin, but the election will undoubtedly remain
interesting, with Trump’s adoring supporters ready to back him every inch of
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Professor MA Simpson is Health24's CyberShrink. A South African psychiatrist, he qualified in medicine and in psychiatry in Britain. He has been a senior academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries. Read more of his columns.