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Thursday, October 20, 2016

What Trump should have told Chris Wallace when he was asked if he would accept election result

In the third and last US Presidential debate today early morning, Indian time, I thought Donald Trump performed much better than the previous two debates.

He was calmer, he didn't interrupt Hillary Clinton or the moderator (Chris Wallace) as often he did on the previous two occasions; and he seemed to be more focused and prepared. He seemed to be putting Hillary on the defensive on quite a few occasions.

The Republican presidential hopeful's trump card has always been that Hillary has experience, but it's a bad experience. Another is that Hillary only talks, never does or gets anything done.

Trump has no experience, and, therefore, has no baggage. People who are backing Trump are the ones who are willing to take the gamble to entrust the leadership of the US to someone who is not an original politician; and the hope is that he will fare differently, taking America out of the current problems.

But all the ground Trump seemed to be gaining finally, he lost with one answer: his refusal to say that he will accept the verdict of the election.

It was a very dangerous statement. I am sure Trump and even the audience didn't immediately get the full implications of that. What he said sounded more like what we are used to hearing in nations where democracy hasn't really taken root or in nations ruled authoritarian rulers.

Trump's pronouncement (like a few earlier too) didn't fit into the image of America the world has. In fact, his non-commitment has turned out to be the only real highlight of the debate. The rest of the debate was all on predictable lines.

For the record, here is the transcript of the relevant portions, which I am sure will go down in history.

Chris Wallace: ".... Your running mate Governor Pence pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, will absolutely accept the result of this election. Today your daughter Ivanka said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely, sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of the selection?"

Trump:  "I will look at it at the time. I'm not looking anything now I will look at it at the time. What I've seen, what I've seen it so bad. First of all the media is so dishonest  ..... "

Wallace: "But, sir."

Trump: " .... We will find out on November eighth but I think they’re going to see through it. ... "

Wallace: "But sir, there is a tradition in this country, in fact one of the prides of this country, is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign, that the loser concedes to the winner, not saying that you are necessarily going to be the you loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country, are you saying that you are not prepared now to commit to that principle?"

Trump: "What I'm saying now is I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense, okay?"

Of course, Trump isn't categorically saying that he won't accept the verdict.

However, he could have said something on these lines:

I am sure I won't have to make a concessions speech because I won't be the loser. It's Hillary who will have to. But since you asked the question, even though it's been a rigged election, I will make the same commitment that I will absolutely accept the result of the election. That's a great American tradition that I will honour.

If Trump had said this, he would have gained a few undecided voters, who knows may be even a few Democrat supporters sitting on the fence. He wouldn't have lost anything. And Wallace wouldn't have had to ask the more pointed supplementary question.

But then, that wouldn't have been Trump -- the aggressive, unpredictable, wildcard politician, who has progressed this far.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Trump dream of mending a broken America

Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again
If you have been following Donald Trump's campaign speeches, you wouldn't find anything extraordinarily new in this book. However, the book elaborates on some of the pet themes of this realty mogul and reality star.

Trump's premise is that America resembles a Third World country. Everything is broken. But not beyond repair. And he alone can fix it.

His arguments are superficial; and often unidirectional. On the face of it, some of the things he talks about seem to make sense, but when you are talking of a huge, multicultural nation like the US, its Presidential aspirant can't have blinkers. He needs to have a holistic and a macro view of different aspects of the nation.

Somewhere towards the latter half of the book I began getting the feeling that he has just one solution: create more and more business opportunities for people. So create more and more hotels, resorts, malls etc etc. even if heritage structures or whatever have to be broken down.

That way, he will bring in more jobs, and prosperity. His route to fixing America is only via more and more dollars. Not surprising, because, he is basically a businessman. And, I doubt if he has any interest in or understanding of any other facet of a multicultural society.

At the same time, he says somewhere in the book, that getting rich is no guarantee to becoming happy. He talks of American values, which are not elaborated. And, there is somewhere a disconnect.

The book is more about his dreams, of mending a broken country. But the full, long road map isn't there. Just elect him as the next President of the US. That's all. Leave the rest to him.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Hillary Clinton gains from Donald Trump's errors

The expectations ahead of the second US Presidential Debate that took place today was akin to one ahead of soap operas. Much of the blame must be taken by the Republican nominee Donald Trump.

It all began with the 2005 video tape that surfaced on Friday, in which Trump bragged about how his celebrity status allowed him to grope and make other sexual advances to women. That this 11 year-old tape should come to light only a few days before the debate and less than a month ahead of the poll, is more than mere coincidence. Also, it's not the first time presidential candidates have had to face ghosts from the past at the most wrong time. It's politics that a democracy gives room for.

Understandably, there was huge uproar. Trump was forced to apologize. Anyone else would have sought this unseemly distraction to end there. But not Trump. At the end of the apology, he made it plain clear that the topic would be discussed in the coming days, and signed off sounding a bit ominous, see you at Sunday's debate.

Trump then turned his focus on Bill Clinton. He got four women who have accused Bill Clinton of transgressions, on stage before the press, a couple of hours before the debate. And according to Washington Post and NBC News, there was a plan to get the four women to confront Bill just as they were to walk in for the debate. But the whole plan was nixed.

As expected, Trump raised the topic during the debate. but Hillary, who was well prepared, refused to take the bait, and steered clear of this non-topic, and focused on current topics of importance to the public.

Trump had come to the debate so much on the defensive and in negative territory, it was pretty easy game for Hillary. She knew Trump was already messing things up further; and she had to only ensure that she didn't make any mistakes. There was no need for her to push Trump deeper into the mess.

It was a dead pan performance by Hillary. She didn't score any major points; and there were no knockout punches. But thanks to Trump's conduct, Hillary seemed to be the winner today, without making winning strokes.

As I write this, it's the day after in the US; and news is breaking that House Speaker Paul Ryan has declared that he will not support Trump. But he hasn't withdrawn his endorsement. Things are so bad, that running mate Mike Pence has had to declare that he hasn't still quit the race.

Polls are showing that Hillary is gaining now. It will be too difficult for Trump to close the gap or even overtake, unless there is a miracle.