The US presidential election 2016 has been fought thus far in a manner that should shame the decent-minded Americans. Before the second presidential debate, major TV stations such as CNN that covered the event live warned their viewers that they should not watch it in the company of their children particularly the girls in the family because they expected the debate to be sexually explicit and vulgar.
The shameful alert of the TV channels came largely from the sexually explicit video that was released two days before the debate. The Republican candidate Donald Trump was exposed in the video named "Access Hollywood" bragging about his sexual exploits. He boasted that his "star" status entitled him, as a matter of right, to sexually touch any woman on any part of her body and kiss her at will. He also admitted that he was drawn to women like a magnet. To anyone who saw the video and it was the whole of America that saw it, Donald Trump came out as a self-acclaimed sexual predator.
Mainstream America went aghast. The Republican Party was struck with a lightening. Speaker Paul Ryan quickly threw the towel at the Party's candidate in fear of a voters' backlash particularly from the women. His fear was not because Donald Trump would lose but because the video would harm the Republicans in the congressional races very badly. A large number of Republicans in Senate and House elections thus quickly distanced themselves from him. The Party is now in a civil war with the Trump campaign that blamed the Party for its role in releasing the toxic video!
Donald Trump dismissed his sexually explicit bragging in the video as "locker-room banter" when confronted by the CNN's Anderson Cooper in the second presidential debate. He claimed that in real life he did not behave like that, a claim that outside his own supporters, most Americans did not believe. The claim became even less credible when after the second debate, a spate of accusers came to the media to state that Donald Trump did to them exactly what he claimed he did to women in the "Access Washington" video..
Donald Trump is therefore in deep waters with his poll numbers in a free fall. He is now fighting to remain alive in the campaign on issue of character but the way he is doing it is sinking him deeper into the abyss. He is ridiculing the looks of his accusers instead of bringing substance to the argument to deal with it. The "Access Hollywood" video at this stage is showing all the potential to become his waterloo because of its sexually explicit nature. But it is the media's attention to it that is interesting.
Donald Trump has said and done equally absurd things on the campaign trail against women, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, etcetera that was racist, sexist and contradicted everything that America stands for. Many things he said and demanded were illegal and unconstitutional. The media saw nothing wrong with the despicable nature of those absurdities. It simply reported with expressing dismay or contempt when the candidate had said that he would not lose a single vote even if he walked on 5th Avenue in New York in broad daylight and shot people! His campaign's other absurdity in which the media not just indulged but also encouraged was his claim that Democrats and the Republicans in Washington are nincompoops, stupid and fools that have been responsible for the miseries of millions of Americans. He bragged that he alone would fix everything and asked Americans to elect him the president as their saviour.
Donald Trump blamed President Obama for the economic hardships of his base, the blue-collar white Americans without evidence that flagged the blatantly anti-African American nature of his campaign. He claimed that the US has become a Third World country that no one respected and a pushover for Russia, this too with evidence galore to the contrary. The media also made little attempt to expose, first, that his presumptions with which he was arousing his base were mostly wrong for USA is still the most powerful nation in the world economically, politically and militarily and second, he did not give even one coherent plan to fulfil his promises. In fact it defies common sense how he has come this far in the campaign when even the most cursory examination to most of the things he said and promised were mostly lies, untruths and distortions.
There are still political analysts trying to figure out Donald Trump's path to the White House when his own Party has given up on him. Still, the media is trying hard to determine how much of evil there is in Hillary to keep Donald Trump in the race.
In politics everything is possible. Therefore, the election is not over until it is over. With Donald Trump still in the race, Americans needed to be reminded of the dangers they face on November 08. And that role fell upon the First Lady Michelle Obama. In New Hampshire, on October 13, she raised America to a new high level in a speech that has since been acclaimed as one of the best ever in a presidential campaign. She did not speak of politics or the campaign in any direct manner but like she was reciting from a beautiful piece of prose, she showed Americans the way to find their moral compass to save the country.
Michelle Obama did not mention Donald Trump's name even once in her speech. Yet Donald Trump, the sexual predator, was there every moment of the speech. She laid out for American voters that on November 08, their choice was between right and wrong and she articulated it before the nation that watched her speak in awesome wonder. Dan Rater, the well known CBSEvening News anchor, described Michelle Obama's speech as "a message so visceral, so emotional, and so powerful that it will stand as a moment of clarity in an election full of such moral muddiness."
Michelle Obama's speech was extraordinarily powerful delivered with emotion and passion without any harsh words. It shamed most Americans by reminding them subtly the depths to which they have fallen to find a candidate like Donald Trump knocking at the door of the White House.
The writer is a retired Ambassador.