First Presidential Debate: A Pantomime on the Moral Decline of American Politics…

Kang and Kodos

As the interest and hype started to build around the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I decided to conduct a little experiment based on the mythology of sorts surrounding the very first televised presidential debate: which had been between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

Famously, in that particular debate, the general opinion is that Nixon came across far better than his younger rival did as far as those listening via radio were concerned: but people who watched the televised debate, on the other hand, came away with the opposite perception.

It suggested that while Nixon may have sounded more appealing or convincing, Kennedy came across much better when you saw the two men stood on a stage (Kennedy won that election – in case you didn’t know that: however, Kennedy got shot in the face and Nixon got to hang out with David Frost, so I’m not sure who really won in the end).

So I decided I would avoid the televised coverage and listen to the Clinton/Trump debate on the radio instead: to see who would sound better, sound more convincing and seem to have the more potent arguments. Given that I already pretty much despise both candidates, I figured I might as well take it all lightly.

Interestingly, listening to the radio coverage, it was Hillary who came across better.

She sounded more composed and presidential: and even if she was lying through her teeth on a number of points, the fact is that she sounded like someone who had her act together. Trump, on the other hand, often sounded flustered, struggled with vocabulary (as he often does) and often mis-worded his sentences and failed to properly make the points he was trying to make.



Clinton sounded more convincing on the economy. Trump should’ve been able to sound way better than Hillary on foreign policy – given Hillary’s monstrous track record – but didn’t quite capitalise on that better hand as effectively as he should have.

However, when he did accuse Hillary of having overseen the birth and rise of ‘ISIS’, Hillary looked hopeless and simply accused him of lying, and then muttered something along the lines of ‘you should read my book and look at my website – all the facts are there‘.

Trump could’ve absolutely crucified her on that subject, but seemed to not do so. Instead, he fixated on why America should’ve fully stolen all the Iraqi oil – which completely undermined the high ground he should’ve had and made him sound like Dick Cheney‘s drinking buddy.

When I later caught some of the television coverage, things changed a little.

Now that I could look at the two candidates, it seemed like Trump – as bumbling and misfiring as he often is – had an air of sincerity about him that Hillary lacked. He looked like someone who knew what he wanted to say, but wasn’t very good at saying it in the most coherent or potent ways.

But he looked like someone with conviction, at least (which isn’t necessarily a good thing in itself: after all, you can have total conviction in a misguided idea).

Hillary, on the other hand, looked like an actress playing a part (albeit, a very wooden actress playing a very tedious part): a consummate professional, but with no substance or real conviction.

It also became clear from body language and facial expressions that she was bitter towards her opponent and intent on going on the attack from the outset: Trump, on the other hand, seemed more tired and fed up of Hillary Clinton than vindictive.

Her attacks on him were more personal: his on her were more political and based on her record.

Trump seemed like someone who was misguided or wrong about a number of things, and right about a few other things: but too inarticulate and heavy handed to properly accentuate his positives. Hillary, on the other hand, didn’t seem right or wrong about anything at all, but came across like a stand-in android perfectly programmed with all the correct poise, tone and expression; but essentially possessing no real substance or conviction other than to make sure the other guy looked bad.

Watching these two choices trying to sell themselves – essentially an idiot celebrity and a Sith Lord – I started to wonder if most Americans would happily take either John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon over either of these two.

Is there a lesson to be extracted from all this?

Not really.

Just perhaps that – as Nixon/Kennedy already demonstrated – there are differences between hearing and seeing the candidates. This is probably made all the more so by the fact so much of their dialogue was hot air and pantomime: which makes radio very difficult to glean anything from, whereas at least on television you could glean a lot from faces.

It is clear, anyhow, that there is no ‘winning’ for the American people in this presidential election, no matter the outcome: whichever candidate they end up with, they have essentially lost already.

Which, for someone like me watching with a certain detachment, makes what comes now little more than a crude pantomime depicting the moral decline of the American political system.

S. Awan

Independent journalist. Pariah. Believer in human rights, human dignity and liberty. Musician. Substandard Jedi. All-round failure. And future ghost.


  1. I just saw the response now. I think it’s common sense that millionaires are not funding or plotting with the deep state because they simply do not have the resources to do so. The deep state is WAY out of their price range. I spoke specifically about “disgustingly rich” people, which means billionaires, or people who have hundreds of millions. And yes, they did not “earn” those honestly in any sense of the world. In today’s world, a few mill, or maybe 20 or 30 million, is a lot of money, but it’s still not disgustingly rich. It actually gets used up REAL fast considering the rising cost of living.

    I did say that some people managed to actually live very well through talent and hard work, but they will never be billionaires or hundred millionaires from that. Millionaires or several 6 figures, of course, but even that is rare. Most talented and hard working people will never become millionaires, despite the fact that they may be even more talented and hardworking.

    Are there millionaires who are humble and truly earned their money? Yes they do exist, they are not unicorns. The more prevalent millionaire, unfortunately, are the ones who got theirs by serving the true .01% very faithfully, and have no sympathy for the majority for are suffering. Not all servant classes are doomed to live in desperation and squalor.

  2. When Hillary mentioned Trump stiffing his contractors and he said that’s “Just business” I gasped. When he said he was “smart” for not paying taxes I gasped again. Two jugular hits showing US in a small way, who this guy really is.

    • Fair point. For the record, I’m not saying I like Trump – just that I don’t like Hillary either, and Trump is making Hillary’s task very easy for her.

  3. M Semets idea of the elite being a cancer destroying the world strikes me as a valid one. They do indeed seem to act contrary to the benefit of others just like cancer cells. Which isn’t really surprising. I was just reading about some research which has been done that indicates that people with more money than others tend to stop thinking ethically and morally for the greater good. They are far more likely to make selfish and greedy decisions which will have deterimental effects on others than people with little money. The poor have a greater sense of right and wrong than the rich. Which goes a long way to explaining the level of damage being done today on the poor, on the environment, and on nations with coveted resources. So basically, since both Trump and Clinton can be considered rich one really shouldn’t expect them to make any decisions that will be morally or ethically in favour of the majority of the global population.

    Returning to M Semets analogy, of cancer cells, and what the cure might be. It strikes me that although some form of social chemo is required, as with most tumors though (and lets face it the rich who have more wealth than the rest of the global population can be considered a tumor) we need to surgically remove it before we can successfully treat the problem. In other words we need to change the whole system from one that allows this accummulation of wealth at the expense of others. We also need to address the issue of the value of money and its association with power. Democracy is a joke when we allow it to concentrate power in a select few who can be easily influenced by money.

    There are many warning signs out there at the moment that the global economy is on the precipice of the greatest ever collapse. If this is true you can guarantee that the likes of Trump and Cllinton are at the centre of delivering the solution to it. Which we can guess correctly will involve more concentration of power and wealth centrally, or on the select few. When what we need to do if such an event does occur is to grasp the opportunity with both hands to make the changes that we need. The problem however is that the majority of the population, at least in the west, are already too far along the problem, reaction, solution conditioning to realise that we can find our own solutions, ones that will benefit the many rather than the few.

    • I agree with what most of that – very well said. I would slightly differ on one point: I don’t think the accumulation of wealth (or the idea of some people being very rich when other people are poor) is the problem. The problem more squarely – as you note – is the presence of money and the wealthy in politics. In other words, I would be ok with there being extremely wealthy people who’ve done very well for themselves – but the line is where that wealth takes control of the political system and begins to dictate the course of society or government.
      The removal of vast moneyed interests from politics is where much of the solution lies: but the demonisation of wealth itself – which you find in a lot of alt-media or anti-establishment dialogue – seems silly to me and ultimately futile.

      • I would have to disagree with you about wealth being “demonized” in our society, it is actually lionized and admired. Also, since when was extreme wealth earned honestly, if at all? It’s one thing to live well when you have talent and hard work, but to become a billionaire from it? Do you honestly believe earning has anything to do with it? This isn’t a communist question, but a common sense one. Seriously. Name one disgustingly rich person or family who “earned” it, and no–raping, pillaging, patent and trademark enforcement, and writing fucked up contracts and using the national military to enforce resource grabs in foreign countries don’t count. Working as middle men between the masses and the corrupt upper crust and serving as comprador elites don’t count as earning with clean hands either. Yes, I understand that the politicking required to convince poor people to die in foreign countries to secure resources does take skill, time, and hard work, but that’s a perversion of “earning”, wouldn’t you say? I hear raping and stealing burns A LOT of calories. How did the royal family become rich? Were they just more enterprising than everybody else? Or do they deserve all those public subsidies because people allowed themselves to be conditioned that some people are just inherently better than them, so it’s their own damn fault that some people grew rich off their backs?

        The source of the wealth is not a futile or silly question. Also, let’s be frank here…if you went out of your way to set things up to accumulate vast amounts of wealth, you would have the type of personality to ensure that the factors that produced your wealth would continue into perpetuity, and that means meddling in government to rig the game to their favor. Are very wealthy people satisfied with simply accumulating money and staying out of politics? History shows this is never the case. Extreme wealth is accumulated either through political means, or through other shady activities. It’s the human aspect of “more more more”. I understand you have an aversion to communist or socialist politics, but these are important questions that demand real answers. And yes, make no mistake–the ability to accumulate wealth is due to the political system in place. Why are some activities valued over others? Why is it ok to charge for this but not for that? Why do we think garbage men and teachers are overpaid at the high 5 figures, but bankers are underpaid at the low 6 figures?

        Let’s also admit the obvious…moneyed interests grew their wealth PRECISELY by being involved in politics. Is it really possible to grow your wealth exponentially by never getting involved with politics? Is there even such a thing as a super rich person who has never gotten involved in politics at all? I think unicorns are more realistic than the self made rich person who always stayed out of politics, and I’m not alone with this assessment. It’s not just a hunch on my end, there’s a lot of evidence that points to confirming it as well.

        • Wow, M, I’m flinching.
          Seriously though, when I said wealth was being demonised, I didn’t mean in society but specifically in a lot of alt-media. And I take everything you’ve said, but it depends on the definition of wealthy. I mean millionaires are ‘wealthy’, but it doesn’t mean everyone who’s a millionaire is plotting in shadow government. If you’re talking about billionaires, then that’s maybe where it changes.

  4. Interesting, your perceptions. To me, Hillary came across as a professional, and someone who could run the most important country in the world. Trump came across as a bumbling amateur, who so often simply repeated his campaign slogans. But yes, indeed, sad, sad, sad that THESE are the choices!

    • I agree that Hillary came across as a professional; but she is a career politics professional, so it should be relatively easy. How she comes across is also aided tremendously by how rambling and amateurish Trump is, which is why, in some ways, Trump is helping her immeasurably.
      But yes, totally sad that these two are the best America could be given: and it makes me wonder, all the more, what a Bernie Sanders vs Trump debate would’ve looked like.

  5. Watching the debates, I envisioned the Deep State apparatchiks and RAND Corp employees, laughing their asses off. I imagine that flushing the American nation state down the toilet is just fun and games for the likes of them. They are the human embodiment of a political auto immune disorder.

    • ‘Political auto immune disorder’ – you have a knack for the scathing word-play, M.

      • I thought about it for a long time…these “people” are supposed to preserve the health of the state and society, not attack its members (as in normal everyday citizens) through secret experiments, psyops, disinformation, surveillance, and the like. These deep state actors are nothing more than highly compensated sheepherders, who frankly, have become cancerous immune cells of the body politic. In an auto-immune disease, the immune cells start to attack the rest of the body, and it will be a matter of time before the body ultimately fails. That’s where I see the American nation state (and maybe the EU) at this point. Given where I live, this is not a good development. Perhaps these cancerous cells think they can live on despite the death of the host body…the HeLa cells (cervical cancer cells extracted from Henrietta Lacks in the 1940’s or 50’s) are still alive in test tubes and labs today, long after their original owner passed on.

        Ultimately, my impression of these people is that they are a sickness upon society. Maybe they didn’t start out that way, but they are definitely a sickness now. They measure their intelligence, skill, and efficacy by their ability to manipulate and distract. Forget innovation or creating something that would truly benefit humankind, it’s all about amassing power and making everyone your bitch. Because what higher calling is there in the world than to make sure that everyone knows their place to never challenge your supremacy?

        I don’t know if “aggressive chemo” is the answer to this sickness. Whatever the solution is, it can’t come soon enough if society wants to save itself.

        • Brilliant stuff, M. Also, the point you make about everyone knowing their place and never challenging the supremacy: the WikiLeaks releases very much suggest that Bernie Sanders was threatened (with *what* is unclear) by the DNC establishment to step aside and not contest the electoral fraud and rigging.
          The cancer analogy is definitely apt; I also think a Mafia analogy fits the criteria too – a massive criminal enterprise that won’t tolerate intrusion onto its turf or any jeopardizing of its operations or assets.

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