The Presidential Race to the Bottom

Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump granted an interview to The New York Times on Friday, and it included a most remarkable quote that succinctly sums up the race thus far. “She’s nasty,” Trump said, referring of course to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, “but I can be nastier than she ever can be.”
Trump tried his best to live up to the boast over the weekend, regaling a typically raucous crowd in Mannheim, Pennsylvania, with a conspiracy theory about his over-amplified microphone at last week’s debate, boasting of his presidential temperament while alleging that his opponent “could be crazy, she could actually be crazy,” leading cheers for her to be sent to prison, doing some physical comedy schtick about her recent health problems, intimating that she’d been disloyal to her husband and adding that “Why should she be?” He also warned the audience that any movie they go to see after a Trump rally was bound to be less entertaining, given how bad Hollywood is these days, then nostalgically reminisced about his long run on a reality television program, and eventually got around to being appalled by some recently released and supposedly disparaging remarks Clinton once made about the supporters of her vanquished Democratic rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whom Trump referred to as “Crazy Bernie.”
By all accounts the crowd loved it, and we expect that Trump’s most loyal supporters elsewhere were similarly entertained, but one wonders what the rest of the country will make of it. Those basement-dwelling supporters of the self-described socialist Sanders are unlikely to switch a self-described billionaire, and the majority of Americans of who have expressed doubts about Trump’s presidential temperament probably won’t be impressed, nor do we see Trump improving his standings with that pesky woman portion of the country.
Clinton can be pretty darned nasty herself, as even Trump has acknowledged to The New York Times, and we expect she’s ready to hurl her own accusations of conspiracies and criminal behavior and physical unfitness and infidelity, and she’ll have plenty of material on had to do so. She also has a knack for baiting Trump into distracting feuds with the parents of fallen soldiers and slightly fattened beauty queens, and has the help of a ruthless press that’s lately been leaking some embarrassing tax information and various other business-related scandals about her opponent, and after so many years of politics she has a better knack for seem presidential while down in the muck. In any case, we’re sure her most loyal supporters will approve no matter how nasty she gets.
By now both of the candidates’ most loyal supporters regard their nastiness as a virtue. Trump supporters are so convinced that Clinton and her left-wing cabal are so low-down that lower-down tacts are needed to defeat them, while Clinton acolytes are equally convinced they’re fighting such a fascistic force that the most bare-knuckled tactics are required. That’s why Trump is bragging to the press than he’s the nastier of the two, and why Clinton will no doubt try to prove him wrong.
With apologies to Irving Berlin, we’ve already written the score for their next debate:
CLINTON: Anything you can do, I can worser. I can anything worser than you.
TRUMP: No you can’t.
CLINTON: Yes I can.
TRUMP: No you can’t.
CLINTON: Yes I can, yes I can.
TRUMP: No matter how mean you are, I can be meaner. Sooner or later I’m meaner than you.
CLINTON: No you’re not.
TRUMP: Yes I am.
CLINTON: No you’re not.
TRUMP: Yes I am, yes I am … I’ll evict a widow, just to park my limo.
CLINTON: I will be all gay-o, just to win the homos.
TRUMP: I just want a piece of ass.
CLINTON: And only that?
CLINTON: Hah — my husband’s that crass.
TRUMP: Anywhere you can go, I can go lower.
CLINTON: I can go anywhere lower than you.
(Both descending lower rather than upwards, with further apologies to Irving Berlin.)
TRUMP: No you can’t.
CLINTON: Yes I can.
TRUMP: No you can’t.
CLINTON: (Sounding very butch at this point.) Yes I can, yes I can. (Back to normal shrill pitch.) Anything you can sell, I can sell cheaper than you.
TRUMP: Integrity?
CLINTON: What is that?
TRUMP: Your very soul?
CLINTON: What’s that for?
TRUMP: No you can’t.
CLINTON: Yes I can, yes I can.
TRUMP: Any lie you can tell, I can tell better.
CLINTON: I can tell any lie better than you.
TRUMP: No you can’t.
CLINTON: Yes I can.
TRUMP: I will mock a cripple, and ogle at a nipple.
CLINTON: I used to be a hippie, now I’m merely dippy.
TRUMP: I will say most anything.
CLINTON: And give it some zing?
TRUMP: Sure.
CLINTON: That’s what I thought, you thing.
TRUMP: Any grudge you can hold, I can holder longer.
CLINTON: I can hold any grudge longer than you.
TRUMP: No you can’t.
CLINTON: Yes I cannnnnnnnn. Any law you can break, I can break better.
TRUMP: On your phone?
CLINTON: In my home.
TRUMP: Without pause?
CLINTON: Without cause.
TRUMP: Any stand you can take, I can change faster.
CLINTON: I can change any stand faster than you.
TRUMP: No you can’t.
CLINTON: Yes I can.
TRUMP: Noyoucan’t.
TRUMP: I’m the great un-nerver.
CLINTON: I can wipe a server.
TRUMP: I can be insulting.
CLINTON: My numbers are resulting.
TRUMP: I can make us great again.
CLINTON: Can you tell us why?
CLINTON: Neither can I.
The number ends with the two going into professional wrestling mode, and the moderator taking a final swig of whisky before shooting himself in the head, and the audience leaving with no hope that the after-debate movie will prove as entertaining.

— Bud Norman