Tonight the doyenne of deceit and the syncopated clock of Republicanism will debate in what is likely to be the most-watched television event ever staged. Over one hundred million people around the world are expected to be in the audience.
Most people will watch it the same way that many fans of NASCAR watch a race. Seeing the cars fly around the track is pretty boring but the tedium is too often relieved by spectacular crashes. People are eager to see cars spin out of control, pieces fly and flames erupt as other cars slam into the melee.
Tonight, people will be looking for the same sort of wrecks. Will Clinton succeed in getting under Trump’s skin causing a verbal eruption that could wreck his campaign? Will Trump keep his cool and let her bore the audience to death with so much bragging about her “accomplishments” as secretary of state that everyone glazes over? Will Clinton have another medical “incident” like she did at the 9/11 memorial that could destroy her campaign?
Nobody can predict what will happen. Nor can we predict how much the inbred liberal bias of Lester Holt will affect the questions he poses. What we can predict is an entirely entertaining ninety minutes that will affect both campaigns. There will be a lot of political posturing and possibly — just possibly — some debate on the SGO of the day.
(For those just joining us, SGO is the comprehensively useful acronym for s**t goin’ on, invented by my late pal and Navy SEAL Al Clark.)
There are conflicting reports about whether Gennifer Flowers — she of the twelve-year affair with Bubba back in the day — will attend at Trump’s invitation. The imagination blossoms with other people who could be invited.
For example, Trump could invite Billy Ray Dale, the central figure in the Travelgate scandal, to attend. For those who don’t remember, Mr. Dale was the head of the White House Travel Office, responsible for arranging press accommodations on Air Force One and press aircraft following behind it. In 1992, Hillary demanded that Dale and his staff be fired to make room for Clinton cronies from their Arkansas days. Not only was Mr. Dale fired, the law enforcers of the Clinton Justice Department had him indicted for fraud and embezzlement when Hillary demanded his removal.
Mr. Dale was subsequently tried in federal court, defended by my then law partner Steve Tabackman. After a three-week trial, Dale was acquitted of all charges after a brief jury deliberation.
If Trump invited Billy Ray to sit in the front row, Clinton would recognize him and maybe get thrown off her game. Trump could invite my pal Paul Bedard, who was the Washington Times White House reporter at the time Bubba appointed Hillary to generate a policy to reform healthcare. Paul broke the story about Hillary healthcare task force was violating a law barring the secret meetings she and her team were holding with liberal industry people (a government in the sunshine law called the Federal Advisory Committee Act). That story resulted in a lawsuit that broke up Hillary’s effort to nationalize healthcare. She’d recognize him as readily as she’d recognize Billy Ray, and she wouldn’t be comfortable.
While we’re letting our imaginations run with the idea, Trump could also invite Lebanese-Nigerian businessman Gilbert Chagoury in the absence of his late partner Marc Rich. Rich, then a fugitive from justice, was pardoned on Bubba’s last day in office, which even the New York Times called a “shocking abuse of presidential power.”
Rich, facing prosecution by Rudy Giuliani for Rich’s dealings with the ayatollahs’ Iran, Muammar Khadafy, Milosevic’s Yugoslavia, Kim Il Sung’s North Korea, Communist dictatorships in Cuba and the Soviet Union had earned him a spot on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. Rich fled to Switzerland. Bubba pardoned him after Rich’s wife donated $450,000 to the Clinton presidential library project during the preceding campaign.
Chagoury would be a good stand-in for Rich because a critical point would be made by his presence: the only thing that’s changed in Clintonworld in the past twenty-five years is that the Clinton presidential library is no longer the favored recipient of bribes and corrupt donations: the Clinton Foundation is the current recipient of payments from every despot, dictator, and shady character who wanted to buy Hillary while she was at State. As my pal and late-night radio host Jim Bohannon has said, she’s been bought and sold so many times she probably has a barcode on her butt.
Regardless of who’s in the front row of the audience, Holt will do his best to play to Clinton’s strengths and Trump’s weaknesses. But he can’t evade asking at least a few questions about current events.
If Holt asked the candidates if they would pardon Edward Snowden — the traitor who stole about one and a half million secret NSA documents and took them to Russia — that could put Hillary on the spot. Now that Oliver Stone has made a movie that reportedly portrays Snowden as a hero, Hillary couldn’t promise that she wouldn’t pardon him, but Trump sure could. For that reason, the question won’t be asked.
Holt will ask what the candidates’ plans are to defeat the Islamic State (he’ll call it “ISIL” like Obama does, to avoid using the term “Islamic” in the same paragraph as “terrorism”). Hillary will say she’ll confer with our Middle Eastern allies, naming Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and possibly others such as the UAE and Bahrain and get their help to defeat the bad guys. That, of course, is what Obama has done and he’s failed to get any significant help from them. ISIS is still very much in business.
Hillary has jeered that Trump’s secret strategy is that he has no strategy, and she’ll probably repeat that line. Trump could answer that he’ll fire the generals who’ve engineered the Obama strategy, hire a new bunch of Chiefs of Staff and get them to come up with a plan he will implement to defeat ISIS. That would be a pretty good answer if he uses it.
Clinton’s campaign indicated last week that she favors a “right” of everyone in the world to emigrate to the United States, a beyond-the-pale radical position that no one outside the New York Times’ editorial staff could support. Trump’s position on immigration has become muddied of late, his having backed off his “deportation force” idea to drive the millions of illegal aliens out of the country. But he’s not backed off the idea of “extreme vetting” for immigrants, whatever that means.
Holt could ask both candidates if they believe that everyone has a right to emigrate here, but he won’t.
Holt could ask if Clinton still wants the estate tax to rise to 65% for estates over $1 million, but he won’t. There’s no need in liberals’ minds for Clinton to have to defend a policy that would rob families of farms and businesses that have been theirs for generations.
Whatever Holt puts on the table, both candidates will use the forum to blast each other for everything from felonies to massive public fraud. Some of their shots at each other will hit the mark, others will miss and draw ire from the public and the press. Nevertheless, we’ll all be watching in the hope that Hillary’s car will careen off the track. It’s gonna be fun.