Even before the third presidential debate made Donald Trump’s refusal to abide by the election outcome the election’s central question, conservatives are already preparing a defense of sorts. Trump’s wild ravings about the rigged election, they insisted, were hardly any different from complaints by various liberals about the 2000 election. This has become a nearly consensus talking point on the right, as it conveniently united both the pro- and anti-Trump factions within the Republican Party in their belief that Trump has done nothing worse than what the hated Al Gore did. “Democrats forget everything that they’ve been saying on their blogs, in their newspapers, in their magazines over the past 16 years,” cries television blowhard Joe Scarborough. “This holier-than-thou attitude, this is the first time that anyone has suggested the election is not a sacrosanct process, it’s a joke! So you guys bathe in that hypocrisy if you want to.”
Hours after the world first heard Donald Trump and Billy Bush gabbing about sexual assault on an Access Hollywood bus, Republican strategist Ana Navarro shut down fellow CNN panelist Scottie Nell Hughes, who complained that her daughter was being subjected to Navarro’s liberal use of the word “pussy.”
After forcing Republicans to spend the last two weeks discussing whether they’d vote for a sexual predator, Donald Trump found a way to make the next 19 days even more nightmarish for his party. Immediately after the debate, Republicans were already being asked whether they intend to uphold our democratic process or potentially foment insurrection along with their nominee.
Hillary Clinton has used all three presidential debates to make the case that Donald Trump is unfit for office. Trump has proven himself unable to recognize this strategy, or to learn from his failures, or to change his behavior in any way. All three followed the same pattern. Trump began the debate by projecting something approximate to a normal Republican — which is to say, an angry reactionary within normal bounds.
Things were initially pretty cordial between the two presidential candidates during the third and final debate on Wednesday in Las Vegas. The gloves came off, though, during the final hour and there was some name-calling, eye-rolling, and plenty of interrupting. But perhaps the most notable line came courtesy of Donald Trump, who interrupted Hillary Clinton during her answer to a question about Social Security and Medicare with this: “Such a nasty woman.”
Donald Trump has repeatedly warned that the election is “rigged,” insinuated that hordes of African-Americans and illegal immigrants will steal the election through illegal ballots, and urged his supporters to monitor “certain areas.” Many observers have denounced these paranoid warnings as dangerous and corrosive to democratic politics. But Washington Observer columnist Tim Carney calls these warnings liberal hypocrisy, because Democrats disputed the legitimacy of the 2000 election:
A belief in the connection between personal morality and fitness for office used to be a bedrock of Republican politics. It undergirded the crusade to impeach Bill Clinton, and also supplied the primary theme for George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, which promised to restore “honor and dignity” to the presidency. Five years ago, white evangelical Protestants were the most heavily Republican voting bloc in the country, and also its most moralistic. Only 30 percent of them believed that “an elected official can behave ethically even if they have committed transgressions in their personal life.”
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