In May of 1973, as the Watergate scandal that would eventually bring down the presidency of Richard M. Nixon was in the early stages of unfolding in the press, our former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, addressing the House of Commons said “Honourable members know what has happened recently in the United States. Even making observations about it causes me very deep pain. The President has been a friend of mine for years. I wonder how many people in Canada who were going to abolish the monarchy are having second thoughts now about asking for a president?”
I, who very much share the Chief’s monarchist sentiments and preference for our own system of parliamentary government, cannot count the number of times since the current American presidential race began that I have been thankful that we are fortunate enough in Canada, to have a head of state who is above the political process and whose position is filled by good old-fashioned hereditary right of succession. No matter how loathsome our politicians are – and the present governing batch led by mindless media-whore Justin Trudeau are about as loathsome as they get – we can always look to our Sovereign and say God Save the Queen!
The Watergate scandal cost the United States the leadership of the statesman who was, in my opinion, the best president they had in the last century and a half. What Nixon was forced to resign over was less than what one of the present candidates has already done while serving in the administration of the outgoing president as Secretary of State. Nixon, having inherited a quagmire in the Vietnam War in which thousands of American lives had been wasted through the incompetence of the previous administration, brought America’s involvement in this conflict to an end in a way that minimized the damage to her national honour. By contrast, the former Secretary of State now running for president, through her ill-conceived support for Islamic rebel movements throughout the Middle East, helped created ISIS which is presently engaged in a jihadist war of terror against the rest of the world and, blaming the problems of the region on the Russian, Syrian, and Iranian governments actively fighting ISIS, proposes to solve the “humanitarian” crisis in Syria that she helped generate, by pursuing the same failed policies in a way that could lead to the kind of direct US-Russia confrontation that statesmen spent the entire Cold War trying to avoid.
Late last week, as Wikileaks released documents showing that this candidate said one thing to audiences of Wall Street financiers and another to the general public – and advocated the practice of the same duplicity – the Washington Post, the liberal newspaper that had broken the Watergate story and which supports the campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton attempted to generate a Watergate sized scandal for her opponent Donald J. Trump. They released a videotape from 2005, in which Donald Trump and Billy Bush, prior to an appearance by Trump on NBC's Access Hollywood which Bush was co-anchoring at the time, could be heard on a bus having a rather crude and vulgar chat about women.
That Donald Trump had engaged in such a crass conversation probably came as a genuine shock to no one. There was much feigned shock over it, with nobody expressing more faux outrage than Hillary Clinton, who is no stranger to gutter talk herself. Trump apologized for the remarks which he described as “locker room” talk an expression which has long been around for the kind of unguarded and often lewd conversation which often takes place between men in informal settings in which women are not present. Clinton, deliberately parsing the expression in an overly literal way, cited coaches and athletes who tweeted that they never heard talk like that in their locker rooms. Her cheerleaders in the mainstream media, including the contemptible Anderson Cooper of CNN who co-moderated the second presidential debate at Washington University, St. Louis, two days after the tape was released, attempted to twist Trump’s words into something worse than boasting and obscenity. It is apparent to anybody who is both honest and in possession of a brain that Trump’s boast that “when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything”, while utterly distasteful, was not a declaration of entitlement to commit sexual assault but a statement of the fact that the fame and wealth that come with celebrity attract women.
Other than distracting people from the Wikileaks revelations about Clinton, the heirs of Woodward and Bernstein clearly had two objectives in publishing this story. Evident in the timing of the story was their hope to rattle Trump just prior to the second debate. This objective failed. When the matter came up at the beginning of the debate Trump apologized, repeated that it was just locker room talk, and pointed out that while they were condemning him for his words, Bill Clinton had been accused by a number of women of sexual harassment, assault, and even rape. He had arranged a pre-debate press conference with several of these women. Also present – and more relevant – was Kathy Shelton, a woman who had been raped as a twelve year old. Hillary Clinton was the lawyer who defended her rapist by attacking her character and sanity and who in a taped interview laughed and gloated over her victory in the case even though she was aware her client was guilty. Trump was able to prevent the scandal from dominating a debate in which he was able to get his message across – the need to concentrate on fighting ISIS rather than the other governments fighting her, the failure of Obamacare, the need for “extreme vetting” of refugees, etc. – while hammering away at Clinton over her emails, foreign policy failures, and mendacity.
The other objective, and probably the main goal of the scandalmongers, was to divide the Republican Party. In this they were more successful. Indeed, as Paul Ryan, John McCain, and other establishment Republican figures were quick to distance themselves from the Trump campaign and condemn their party’s candidate it became difficult to tell which group displayed the greater hypocrisy. Was it the Clinton Democrats, who for years have promoted sex instruction classes and contraceptive handouts in schools, who more lately have taken to insisting that boys and girls be allowed to use each other’s bathrooms and showers, who have basically done everything they can to undermine traditional Christian morality, and whose numbers include some of the most dirty-minded and foul-mouthed comedians, actors, singers and other celebrities imaginable, but who are now all of a sudden discovering their inner Mrs. Grundys? Or was it the mainstream Republicans who, having had the opportunity in 1992 and again in 1996 to nominate a man of high moral calibre with all the patriotic policies on trade and immigration that have been attracting supporters to Trump, rejected him and now, finding the policies that their grassroots voters have demanded being championed by a reality television and beauty pageant host are pretending to be surprised to find that his private conversation resembles that of a popular entertainer rather than that of a monk?
It was Republican politicians, of course, like Ryan and McCain who danced to the tune the media played. We await the outcome of November 8th to discover whether the religious conservatives in the Republican Party’s voting base find Trump’s off colour conversation of a decade ago so offensive that they would be willing to allow Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States. While one’s words do indicate one’s character, and character is an important consideration in evaluating a would-be leader, it is to be hoped that America’s conservatives – and her voters in general – have enough sense to weigh the shortcomings in character revealed by Trump’s raunchy talk against the shortcomings revealed by Clinton’s lying about her mishandling of classified information, her shedding crocodile tears over the humanitarian crisis she helped create in Syria while attempting to pin the blame on Russia, her making billions of dollars worth of arms deals with governments that happen to be big donors to the Clinton Foundation despite being aware that they are sponsors of terrorism, and countless other such corrupt abuses of office that could be pointed to and realise that not only do Clinton’s shortcomings outweigh Trump’s, they also are more directly relevant to the question of what kind of a president she would be. This is to be hoped because Western civilization is presently facing the existential crisis Jean Raspail predicted in The Camp of the Saints and to meet that crisis needs a Donald Trump at the helm of the United States and not a Hillary Clinton.
Whatever happens, it is undeniable that the level of American politics has been brought to a new low by this election. In reality, of course, politics has always been dominated by the pursuit of sex, wealth, and power and those who in the tradition of lofty philosophical discourse on politics that began with Plato two and a half millennia ago envision a political society organized towards the pursuit of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful must look elsewhere than to the popularity contests we know as democratic elections. For which reason I will close with the thought on which I began – thankfulness, that here in Canada we still have a Head of State who is above this degrading process, and of whom we can say, no matter how horrible our politicians are, God Save the Queen!
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