THE journalist in me played with several catchy headline phrases ahead of Tuesday’s US Presidential Election. But the one I liked and used most was: Will the Don trump the Dame?
A month ago, veteran interviewer Larry King came up with his own bit of safe advice to American voters. He said in an ad on Russia Today (RT) advertising the station’s Election Day coverage: “If you want a businessman to run the economy, Donald Trump is your man. But if you want someone with experience, then it’s Hillary Clinton!”
But the line from that ad that stuck with me most was when Larry reminded co-host news anchor Ed Shultz that “Hillary Clinton is the favourite. But favourites lose!”
Larry the King again caught both my ears when he told his co-host Ameera David Tuesday at the start of RT’s Election Night coverage from its Washington Studio: “Nobody ever knows what will be the results – not the pundits, not the pollsters, not the press, not the politicians. Only the person casting that vote in the booth decides.”
And when she asked Larry for his view on Trump’s chances King — who knows Trump well and has interviewed every US President since Richard Nixon — responded: “Win or lose, Donald Trump is America’s 2016 Man of the Year.”
I followed the lead-up to the early results on BBC and Al Jazeera (AJ). The trends had been very clear that Trump had closed-in on Clinton much more than the Democrats admitted. I didn’t like the idea, but the signs were there that The Republican Don could trump The Democratic Dame.
DONALD THE DEMON!
Trump brutally eliminated all his Republican opponents. He also bashed the American media as hard as he did ‘Crooked Hillary’. He never withdrew his comments about groping women, never backed-down on his promise to “build that wall”, or changed his mind about “banning Muslims” from entering America. He insisted NATO was “costing America too much” and the Europeans should “start paying their way”. And he rejected the Clinton camp’s claim that he was “in bed with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin”.
The Republican candidate was called everything from a race-baiting dog-whistler to a father with eyes on his daughter. First Lady Michelle Obama said he was the last man American women should want to see in the White House. A week ahead of the election, it was disclosed he was accused of raping a 13-year-old and due in court in December.
Trump was declared a danger to the world, not someone to have his finger on a nuclear button. President Obama said he was indeed a threat to world peace and security.
The Clinton camp, backed by Obama, blamed Moscow for not only hacking the Democratic camp’s e-mails, but also seeking to influence the election results by making them available to Wikileaks. Trump not only rejected the ridiculous assertion, but said the hacking could also have been done by “someone lying on a bed anywhere in America — and weighing 400 pounds.”
But never mind all of the above, everything pointed to Americans warming-up to Trump all along because many liked what he was saying. He was a self-described “smart” billionaire who admittedly evades taxes. He flew around in his gold-plated jet, but also appealed to the average white American who needed someone to blame for their declining economic and social fortunes.
Trump blamed Obama, Muslims and Mexicans – and that sounded good enough to also draw the secret ‘Rednecks’ and declared ‘Ku Klux Klansmen’ out to support him. Many Americans quietly supported Trump and lied to the pollsters, others simply remained silent — until Election Day.
The Republican nominee benefitted greatly from Clinton’s waning popularity, especially after the exposures from the first round of the FBI-sponsored e-mail scandal. Then came the Wikileaks e-mails confirming she was probably not as truthful as she insisted — and maybe not as straight either.
THE ‘BERNIE’ FACTOR
And then came the Bernie Sanders factor.
The moment it became known that the Democratic political hierarchy had rigged the selection process against Sanders, Clinton started losing trust and support in the ‘Bernie’ camp. Youth, students, women, progressives, trade unions, minorities and others who supported Sanders pledged, very early, they would not support Clinton — and would prefer to stay home than help her beat Trump.
Sanders was eventually forced by the Democratic Party’s political plutocracy to endorse Clinton, but he did so without a smile – and to the loud disapproval of most of his 13 million supporters across America.
It was never quite clear that Americans did not want to build a Clinton presidential dynasty akin to the Kennedy and Bush clans – until the Clinton Foundation’s ‘Pay to Play’ scheme was unveiled.
And then came the more recent, most-damning revelation in the Wikileaks e-mails: that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton knew that the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar were funding ISIS, the group holding the world to ransom in terror.
Earlier, Mrs Clinton had also boasted on TV, almost taking personal responsibility for the death of Muammar Gadaffi, saying: “We came, we saw, he died!”
But the Clinton campaign was clearly more interested in ‘Demonizing the Donald’ than in gathering all available Democratic forces behind the first woman candidate for US President. At times the Clinton campaign even sounded cockily sure that her win was a sealed, done deal.
As it turned out, Trump stayed his course and kept the focus on ‘Crooked Hillary’ in ways that resulted in him taking the lead from the very first early results on Tuesday night – and never looking back.
And now for the Trump presidency… Europe is worried about the future of NATO. Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, even Turkey – are all worried. The Muslim Mayor of London will now have to lift the travel ban imposed on Trump entering the British capital.
The case involving the 13-year-old disappeared a few days ahead of Voting Day. Now, Trump will be in a position to “build that wall”, impose heavy customs tariffs on “American cars made in Mexico”, “renew or dump NAFTA”, “stop the TTIP”, “ban Muslims”, “send Mexicans home”, “make NATO pay to play” and put his finger in the trigger of all America’s nuclear buttons.
ART OF THE POSSIBLE
The Democrats are suffering from shock and awe! Wall Street has the jitters! Establishment America is astonished! Establishment America picked the wrong mule to race against the white elephant. Now the elephant has slain the donkey.
But Tuesday’s US election also proved, yet again, that politics is the art of the possible.
Nobody gave Donald Trump a chance when he started off, but on his way to the White House, he mowed-down every Republican or Democratic tree or stump in his path.
Americans did on Tuesday what voters have been increasingly doing around the world of late – they rejected the establishment. The establishment demonized Trump, but those blaming the system for their daily plight always embrace the most anti-establishment candidate. Those wanting regime change always support those who advocate that change quickest and loudest, irrespective of ability to deliver.
Americans voted Trump in as President. But Americans also voted against Hillary Clinton for her recently-exposed indiscretions and the resulting mistrust – and that included the millions who stayed home, as promised, after Sanders was ‘Berned-out’ of the nomination process by the rigging Clinton Democrats.
President-elect Trump will soon change his language. He will be forced to become much-more-stately in his public expressions, as he transforms into the next new Uncle Sam. He will have to face Russia and China, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Syria and Iraq, North and South Korea, the European Union and Brexit, Canada and Mexico.
But The Don’s severe trumping of The Dame on Tuesday has once again confirmed that, just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, deification and demonization have absolutely no place in the real politics of electing governments for people and country.