The first presidential debate of 2016 was a turning point in the election because Republican candidate Donald Trump gave viewers the impression of being very impulsive, insensitive, and unreliable. In the second debate, Trump had a chance to regain some respect, but the results were just as disastrous as the first debate. Once again, Trump rambled about unrelated topics, interrupted frequently, and made several clearly untrue statements. Journalist Dan Rather, who is known for his political analyses, could not resist weighing in on the subject after he saw the debate.
In his blistering article after the debate, Rather wrote, “This election has long since passed the stage of rationality and reason, the realm of the written page, and into the territory of the heart and spirit, where emotions swirl that we cannot fully distill into coherent sentences and paragraphs. But I will humbly try…”
Rather then goes on to compare the current events in the United States to the downfall of the Roman republic. He points out that Romans were lead astray when they quit paying attention to politics and instead focused on the savage entertainments available at the Colosseum. According to Rather, “we could, if we are not vigilant, fall into a similar downward spiral.”
Despite his harsh warnings about the overall state of the election, the political commentator was not entirely negative. He did praise Clinton because she was “better at answering question directly and better at laying out what she would like to do as President.” The debate moderators also received support from Rather because “When presented with generalities, they followed up demanding specifics. Not surprisingly Trump was critical of that type of questioning – as he has been of the press in general.”
In his article, Rather did not really have anything positive to say about Donald Trump. Instead, he stated that “When he spoke, he often tried to tar his opponent with guilt by association – calling into question Clinton’s “friends” on taxes in particular and referring to Clinton’s husband to avoid the glare of his own misconduct. It seems that Trump does everything he can to avoid personal culpability or responsibility. He argues that his faults are not so great because Clinton and her associates have done much worse – his words are not so dangerous because ‘locker room’ talk has long been excused for men. Clinton called for an apology to the many Trump has spoken ill of. None was forthcoming.”
Rather finds it extremely concerning that Trump still has such a large fanbase despite his many failings. He feels that “the overarching question about what is in our political, cultural, and historical DNA. Editorial boards of all political persuasions have demanded that we treat this election as a plebiscite on the very future of our nation. They have laid out dire stakes if Donald Trump is elected, and those sentiments have been echoed by millions of voters. And yet Trump has his own legions of followers.”
Rather concludes his blistering description of the debate by saying, ” I feel tonight as if we have been hijacked into an alternate universe. This national nightmare will end one way or another.” Though he is clearly concerned about the state of American politics, Rather ends his blistering article with a note of optimism. He tells his audience, “If you want a reason for hope – the two candidates did shake hands at the end. Perhaps when this is all over we can do that as a country.”