Lazarick: Nasty campaign lives down to expectations in debate

Lazarick: Nasty campaign lives down to expectations in debate

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in second debate at Washington University in St. Louis. PBS screenshot.

By Len Lazarick

We knew back in late May, when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were wrapping up their party nominations, that the coming campaign was going to be one of the most god-awful nasty races in modern history. We also knew the debates between the two would be among the most watched since they began in 1960.

Would that we had been wrong.

Little did we know that the campaigns would be at their nastiest during these debates.

Sunday’s night’s exchange began on the highest note of the evening. “Our country really is great because we are good,” said Clinton.

“I agree with everything she said,” said Trump. “This is a great country and a great land.”

Things went downhill from there bobsled fast.

Are we really asking a candidate for president of the United States about whether he actually mashed on women the way he said he did on a video?

“I’m very embarrassed,” he said. “I apologize.” Trump, embarrassed and apologetic? As extraordinary as the videotape itself.

Did you really deliberately mishandle classified information. Secretary Clinton?

“It was a mistake,” she said, but there is no evidence any secret information was hacked.

If it was, did you think they were going to post it on Facebook, Madam Secretary?

On style, Clinton was restrained and interacted with the town hall questioners. Trump paced the stage, looming over her, and constantly sniffling and nose-breathing into the mic — the same thing he complained about last time but much worse. Hey, how about a mic check, guys, or maybe a lapel mic?

“This is not who we are,” Clinton said of the foul-mouthed tape, but it is who Trump is.

Lock her up

Everything Clinton does is a disaster, he said, and she can’t get anything done, as if a lone senator can get everything they propose.

“I didn’t think I was going to say this,” he starts out. Oh, boy, what’s coming? More trash talk on hubby Bill Clinton?

No, actually much worse. If elected, he promises his attorney general will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate her emails.

It’s a good thing Trump doesn’t run our legal system, lawyer Clinton responds.

“You’d be in jail,” he shoots back.

Then there were the lies and more lies, or in Clinton’s more demure lingo, falsehood after falsehood.

On a very mild question about highly-paid Clinton speeches to big banks and investment firms, did she actually talk about saying one thing in private and another in public?  She attributes the misunderstanding to a discussion of Steven Spielberg’s movie about Lincoln and his deceptions to win passage of the 13th Amendment.

“She blaming the lies on the late, great Abraham Lincoln,” laughs Trump in a great ad-lib. The small leaks from these $225,000 speeches do show Clinton was very cozy with the Wall Street folks she now says she will rein in.

The moderators were fairly restrained, but did press Trump more, because he rarely attempts to answer the question and seems unbothered by facts.

Did he actually pay no federal income taxes for 20 years? Well, probably not, sort of, acting just like all of Hillary’s well-heeled friends.

The whole show was pretty depressing. Did anyone learn anything new or persuasive? Why not have Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein on the stage to drag the nasty duopoly out of its rut.

Is there really going to be another one of these debates? Yes, in nine days. When is this election going to be over? In four weeks, but none too soon.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.