TEHRAN, Oct. 19 (Press Shia) – For outside observers (and probably those inside), the 2016 presidential campaign is reflective of a degeneration of US political morality and lack of common sense courtesy of the candidates who are competing for the highest office in the country.
Usually, in the presidential election year in the United States, a controversial news event about a candidate is released in October to influence public opinion and the outcome of the election. As it takes place a few weeks before the election it can have a greater possible influence on the decisions of potential voters. However, it seems the October surprise has never been so much implicated with moral and sexual scandals as the recent debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. For outside observers (and probably those inside), the 2016 presidential campaign is reflective of a degeneration of US political morality and lack of common sense courtesy of the candidates who are competing for the highest office in the country.
Over the past 15 months in the presidential run, Trump’s campaign has been full of controversies with women. However, with the recent tape scandal less than a month to go until Election Day, a growing number of influential Republicans have demanded that he withdraw from the race. His running mate Mike Pence has stated that he is offended by Trump’s bragging about sexual assaults and the former Republican US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice described him as someone who lacks ‘dignity’ and ‘stature’ to run in the US presidential election. On the same day WikiLeaks released transcripts of private speeches by Hillary Clinton, which provided evidence that she is pro-open-trade and sympathetic to Wall Street interests though in public she claims otherwise. Though Trump’s ridiculing Clinton’s reference to Abraham Lincoln in defense of her Wall Street speeches brought applause and laughter from the audience, Clinton’s scandal attracted far less attention in the mainstream media compared with that of Trump’s.
The second presidential debate was overshadowed by personal charges, each side accusing the other of inappropriate behavior. Trump held a news conference shortly before the debate with three women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment in the past, where Juanita Broaddrick, declared, “Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me, and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there is any comparison. “In return Hillary Clinton gives a series of examples where Trump has failed to apologize for his past behavior and comments.
Beside Trump’s personal scandal (which was extensively covered by the mainstream media) his remarks on US flawed foreign policy in the Middle East and particularly Daesh (ISIS), were less emphasized and dismissed as an attempt to distract public opinion from the personal scandal. When asked by Anderson Cooper (CNN) about his inappropriate language on tape, Trump answered saying,
“Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker room talk, and it’s one of those things […]. I don’t like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS, Russia is killing ISIS, and Iran is killing ISIS […]. And those three have now lined up because of our weak foreign policy.
I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved. She had a chance to do something with Syria. They had a chance. And that was the line. And she didn’t.”
For many observers around the world the 2016 presidential debate is reflective of the degeneration of US political morality. While the tape shows Trump bragging about things that presidential candidates (let alone others) are not supposed to even contemplate, the issue is not unprecedented in US history. In fact, almost since the founding of the United States moral scandals have been persistent among American presidents. Many if not most presidents stand accused of sexual misconduct and even crimes, from Thomas Jefferson to Dwight D. Eisenhower and from the hero worshipped J.F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton. Interestingly, despite his highly publicized affair with Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton’s popularity rating reached its highest point at 73% after his impeachment proceedings in 1998 and 1999. He had a popularity rating of 36% in the middle of 1993.
The missing point amid the leading media institutions’ campaign chaos is the way images are being constructed and engineered: as if the conflict is between the evil Trump and the good Clinton. While the popular conception, largely shaped by the media, views Trump as a senseless, racist misogynist who if elected, would pose a major threat to the world’s security, Clinton has a history in foreign policy and a great deal of blood on her hands to prove it. Anyway, given the recent scandals and the history of the candidates, with either Trump or Clinton in office, the slightest hope of a sane and sober president to run the United States has disappeared: with a candidate who calls women ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals’ on the one hand, and on the other hand one who laughs and jokes about her administration’s criminal policies on the fall of Libya’s Gaddafi, by saying, “We came. We saw. He died.” It seems, the world will witness an even more hawkish and unreasonable foreign policy from the United States.
Zeinab Ghasemi has done her PhD in North American Studies in Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran.
The article was first published here.