“There’s an episode of the dystopian TV series Black Mirror in which terrorists force the British prime minister to fuck a pig on live television. As people gather to gawk at the spectacle, rambunctious prurience gives way to funereal sadness; the humiliation soils everyone who watches it,” writes Michelle Goldberg in ‘Hillary Clinton Was a Model of Grace and Poise Throughout a Disgusting Ordeal.’ (Slate)
That’s what it felt like going into the second presidential debate on Sunday. Before it even started, Donald Trump had held a press conference with three women who’ve accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault and one woman, Kathy Shelton, who loathes Hillary Clinton because, as a young attorney, Clinton was assigned to defend Shelton’s indigent alleged rapist. Apparently hoping to get under Clinton’s skin, Trump put the women in the debate audience, and his campaign signaled that he intended to go nuclear on the Clintons’ marriage. In the moments before the debate started, the camera panned the members of the two candidates’ families, their faces strained and sad. There was a sense that something unprecedented and unspeakable was about to happen.
Clinton, despite rumors to the contrary, is a human being. She had to speak fluently about policy while being flayed for her husband’s sins before an audience of tens of millions. She had to appear unruffled while Trump, stewing and pacing, loomed behind her, physically menacing her with his bulk. He threatened to have her imprisoned if elected; she betrayed not a hint of rage or shock. She made, I think, a strategic decision not to fully engage with him, even if that meant letting some of his outrageous assertions hang there unchallenged. To me, she seemed a model of grace and poise, smiling through a disgusting ordeal….
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Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace
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Please read about my journey through then out of the religious right and Republican Party.