Where we are — in hell, I think

Last night I watched two carbon-based life forms, the male theoretically human, on a stage pretending to be talking to engaged citizens. One of them said had no trouble demonstrating she mean business to a recalcitrant Vladimir Putin; the other thought she should be put in jail and would be were he elected president. Charles Pierce:

Thus was democracy rendered a shambles, once again, by a vulgar talking yam who speaks for far too many of his fellow citizens. And let us pause in our chortling to remember that, to a substantial percentage of the people in the country, this event was absolutely the balls. For a considerable number of them, it was an orgasmic celebration of the impeachment interruptus in which, they believe, Bill Clinton beat the rap.

In short, Trump may have managed throughout the night to stop Republicans from running away into the night, screaming. They still may abandon him, but they’ll slip silently away in the darkness, like deserters from the Confederate army heading for the hills. On Sunday night, he solidified his base the only way that his base can be solidified—with bullying, bluster, and an amazing ability not to know dick about so many of the important issues of the day. And he left us all with one amazing, indelible moment.

And Clinton?

She’ll never be quick. You will always come up with snappier comebacks from your sofa than she will on the stage. But she presses, presses, presses, and, given her opponent in this great sucking mire of an election, that is the perfect approach to take. If the best that can be said for your opponent is that, on this night, he was insane, but manageable, then dogged and determined, and simply knowing what you’re talking about, goes a long, long way.

She also said something about arming the Kurds. Why? Has she been reading nothing but Christopher Hitchens’ old Slate columns in the last eight years?

Let me once more make a positive endorsement. Should Hillary Clinton win and the Congress remain in the talon grip of the GOP, we will see a reprise of Barack Obama’s last four years: government by executive order, paid vacations for a legislative branch that would rather pay its share of taxes than return to their districts with a record of endorsing a Clinton initiative. Liberals worrying about what she and plutocrats chortled about in paid speeches needn’t; even if she endorsed legislation calling for the exhumation of Ronald Wilson Reagan for the purpose of his installation in a cadaver synod the Republicans wouldn’t budge.

But should Hillary Clinton win, the Environmental Protection Agency is safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will have competent leadership. The executive branch will fix what it legally can with the Affordable Care Act. I’m afraid that in foreign policy – the one place where a president’s ambitions can run untrammeled – she will pursue such hooey as Arming the Kurds and Sending a Message to Vladimir Putin. The quasi war in Yemen continues.

In short, Clinton believes in government: a robust federal government that ensures equal protection under the law and, for better and increasingly worse, enforces American interests abroad. I wish Bernie Sanders had been the nominee. Clinton would be a competent hack for the next four years. Competence means preserving a system from encroachment. In other times she would be the conservative consensus choice — as indeed she is compared to Sanders. Donald Trump is not the revolutionary. The party he theoretically heads has been populated by sans-culottes since January 1981. It’s hard for anyone not living in the United States — I don’t intend condescension — to understand how the GOP and its putative Democratic opposition since Ronald Wilson Reagan have perverted the idea of government: a sloth-like, cumbersome, unwieldy but reliable federal government to whose courts our citizens turn for equal protection under the law and whose seniors get Social Security payments once a month, hurricane or not, like clockwork. That’s how government is supposed to work. Taciturn, glamour-free, and meticulous about greasing the machinery — a Clinton administration.

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