The elephant in the room

To stretch the metaphor to the breaking point, there were a lot of elephants in the room at Tuesday night’s presidential debate. There was certainly the elephant of racism, and Trump did nothing to dispel his much-deserved reputation as a bigot. One way he did that was by his refusing to condemn white supremacy in general and the “Proud Boys” in particular.

In fact, Trump did much to reinforce that he is an unregenerate racist when he later said, “I don’t know who the Proud Boys are” and “Antifa is the real problem.” It’s fascinating how often this self-proclaimed “stable genius” cowers behind ignorance because he lacks the wit to answer a question he ought to have full knowledge of. The idea that he knows nothing about the Proud Boys is ridiculous on its face. And if you’re confused about whether or not Donald Trump knows how to condemn someone, spend five minutes looking at his twitter account. This little man with his little, petty justifications is easy to defeat.

I hate to have to educate the president of the United States, but the Proud Boys is a far-right, neo-fascist, male-only organization that promotes and engages in political violence. They were formed in 2016, just in time to serve their Lord and Master Trump. They, and movements like theirs, are responsible for 117 American deaths in the last decade. Antifa, which is a loosely organized ideology espousing anti-fascism, has been responsible for zero American deaths in that same timeframe.

Another elephant in the room was the stark contrast between the characters of the respective combatants. Trump showed himself to be petty, rude, small, hateful and supremely dishonest. One of the lowest points I have ever seen any presidential candidate sink came when Trump dismissed Biden’s true account of his son Beau Biden’s military service record. Beau, who died of a brain tumour in 2015, served his country honorably in Iraq. Instead of acknowledging this, Trump, a five times draft dodger, disparaged Biden’s other son, Hunter, claiming he was dishonorably discharged. Hunter Biden in fact received an administrative discharge from the Navy. The “stable genius” ought to have known that, and in fact probably did.

Throughout, Trump revealed who he is, a cruel, vicious narcissist. Biden revealed who he is, a decent human being who has known ordinary tragedy and adversity. Biden understands what it feels like to lose a loved one at a time when 211,738 American (as I write this) lay dead due to COVID-19. Trump, who has lost family members, goes to the movies or plays golf when they die.

Another elephant in the room was Trump’s taxes and the New York Times report on the details of his tax returns. Trump was once again allowed to get away without being directly confronted by the whole point. If Trump insists the Times’ report is “fake news,” which is his go-to refrain whenever anyone says anything he doesn’t like, he could dispel that alleged fake news by releasing his tax returns. And no, he’s not prohibited from releasing them because he’s under audit. That lie was repudiated by the head of the Internal Revenue Service — under oath.

Trump is free to release his tax returns any time he wants to. In fact he promised he would if he were elected president. But he won’t because he has much to hide. Trump won’t release his DNA to E. Jean Carroll’s lawyer for the same reason. Just as Trump hides his tax returns from the American people because he’s guilty of raping them, he hides his DNA from Ms. Carroll’s lawyer because he’s guilty of raping her. Such is the “character” of the president of the United States.

But the biggest elephant in the room was climate change. Tuesday night’s presidential debate broke a 20-year silence from moderators on the crisis – thrusting it into prime time but also revealing just how stuck in the past much of the US is on this particular issue.

The problem began with how the question was framed. Chris Wallace asked, “What do you believe about the science of climate change and what will you do in the next four years to confront it?” Let’s get one thing clear: climate change is NOT a belief, it’s an established science. The Tooth Fairy is a belief. Climate Change is settled science and is only disputed by the irrelevant fringe ignorant. Trump’s response, that he was all for clean water and clean air, which have nothing to do with the disaster of global warming that we are all facing, proved how utterly out of touch he is and how indifferent he remains to the climate change issue.

Biden, on the other hand, briefly made mention of his two trillion dollar plan to invest in green infrastructure that will attempt to eliminate US climate pollution by the middle of the century. That so little time was taken on climate change and that it is still being treated as existentially debatable was one of the great letdowns of the evening. Climate change remains the human race’s most imminent threat to its own existence.

Clearly, no real progress can be made in the United States on the devastating reality of climate change until Donald Trump is out of office and, with luck, safely behind bars. So vote, and make sure all your friends do. There is much at stake in this election. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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