Tonight at 9pm, a thing will happen, the absurdity of which cannot be overstated. It is an event without precedent because no such set of circumstances has ever even been imagined, let alone come to pass.
Tonight at 9pm, Hillary Clinton must appear on camera in the same room with Donald Trump and attempt to act as though what ensues is something resembling a serious discussion of important issues between rivals for the highest office in the known universe.
Tonight at 9pm, a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State who has devoted her life to public service must stand next to a trust fund baby-man who has devoted his life to the crass pursuit of wealth, power, trophy wives and attention and pay passable lip service to the notion that there are actually Americans out there who are not just simple bigots for whom this choice is not clear.
Tonight at 9pm, a woman of unquestionable intelligence and unrivaled qualifications must stand next to Donald Trump on a stage that will too closely resemble the stages across which he paraded young women in bikinis to be ranked on a scale of one to ten based on the subjective deliciousness of their nubile bodies and, to a lesser extent, their ability to utter a combination of words that loosely resembled a sentence or two.
Tonight at 9pm we enter the Kabuki Theater of False Equivalence wherein Hillary Clinton, even now, even when her opponent is a Cheetos-colored caricature of villainy, must delicately thread a needle while walking a tightrope in order to appear confident but not bitchy, knowledgeable but not haughty, forceful but not shrill, tough but not cunty, “human” but not like she’s on the rag or something.
Tonight at 9pm, Hillary Rodham Clinton must appear as the very first contestant on the pilot episode of the most ill-conceived reality television show in the history of civilization—a sort of bizarro world, inside-out version of The Truman Show.
[Well, shit…this post just became something else. Excuse me while I go down this rabbit hole for a minute.]
In the 1998 Jim Carrey film, The Truman Show, an unwanted baby is adopted by a corporation and raised in captivity as the unwitting star of a reality show made hugely popular by the sick and sad voyeurism of a culture with nothing else on its mind; the universe that he knows nothing of revolves around him.
Almost twenty years later that very same culture has reverse engineered the scenario. We allowed ourselves to be so mindlessly entertained by so much vapid nonsense that a corporate con-man has managed to pour himself into the void that should have been occupied by our powers of discernment and critical thinking to become the knowing center of gravity in our universe.
We have turned all of the cameras on Trump, but Trump is nothing more than a cipher of our own making and so the cameras are immediately refracted back at us, making us sick and sad voyeurs of our own self-abasement and destruction.
And so this is the surreal fucking shitshow that Hillary Clinton must subject herself to at 9pm tonight—less debate than some kind of shitty post-reality meta performance art. Months ago, I started writing a post arguing that she should refuse to participate on these grounds, but what I found was a perfect Catch-22—i.e. the notion of anything resembling a debate with Donald Trump is farcical on its face, but showing up is the only way to demonstrate just how farcical it is.
Hillary Clinton must “debate” Donald Trump because of course. A woman was not going to rise to the presidency without one final, cosmically ultimate indignity. Honestly, it almost feels as though the perceived inevitability of her nomination might have subconsciously contributed to the willingness of Republicans to choose this black hole of a sick joke masquerading as a festering garbage person in a pedophile clown suit.
Anyone who says that anyone “won” the debate tonight is a worthless fucking chowderhead. Hillary will comport herself like the stateswoman she is and come out looking like gold and smelling like roses by comparison in the eyes of anyone with an ounce of intellect and/or self respect, but we’ve all lost just by letting this be a thing that is going to happen tonight at 9pm.