Syndicated Columnists

America is rediscovering its virtue quite selectively

Washington Post Writers Group

Elvis Presley seems to echo in another Southerner, one who became president: Bill Clinton.
Elvis Presley seems to echo in another Southerner, one who became president: Bill Clinton. File photo

It should surprise no one that this presidential election — the first ever to involve a female nominee from a major party in the top spot — has devolved into a contest of man’s ultimate metaphor.

I’m not referring to a spitting competition, if you’re struggling here.

Rather, the race apparently is to determine which is the worst man on the stage — Bill Clinton or Donald Trump. Never mind that Hillary Clinton is the one running for president.

This historic struggle for dominion over a winning narrative, either one of which would be a losing proposition in a sane world, proves yet again that we dismissed Dr. Freud too soon. And, if I may add a footnote for future discussion, that women have traded their superior powers in pursuit of the lesser distinction of being equal to men.

Would that life were more complicated.

Instead, we are hostage to a comedy.

Shocked, shocked, I tell you, the people were to hear an 11-year-old recording of Trump talking dirty about women. Really? Democrats, who tolerated a president’s abuse of power with an intern and, poor Freud, a cigar that wasn’t just a cigar, couldn’t believe their ears. Republicans couldn’t believe the hypocrisy of Democrats. Tell me if you’ve heard this before.

No news here, folks. But speaking of weird, Republicans previously have been fine with Trump’s racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic comments — but, this p–– business won’t stand.

Meanwhile, poor Billy Bush, whose full name can’t be said too often, has been suspended from his “Today” show job because he played along, laughing at Trump’s absurd statements. Well, of course, he played along. He was a reporter for a Hollywood show at the time and this is what reporters do. They will laugh at just about anything to keep an idiot talking.

But America is rediscovering its virtue, if, as always, selectively. Morning chatterboxes at Fox News remind us, as if we could forget, that Christians believe in redemption and second chances. Trump apologized. Others have said that “actions matter more than words.” While Trump only talked about assaulting women (as far as we know), Clinton did have sexual relations with that woman, consensually, and possibly others who weren’t so inclined.

I won’t defend either man’s behavior. But a little context might be helpful in understanding these two characters.

Trump and Bill were born two months apart in 1946 into a revolutionary culture that soon would embrace a hip-swiveling crooner named Elvis Presley and Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine.

Basically, everything you need to know about Bill Clinton and Donald Trump can be found in these two mid-century icons. A fellow Southerner, Clinton saw himself as Elvis. Even now, his face sometimes betrays Elvis’ smoldering glance with the slightly curled lip. Trump, a New York City boy, was Hefner. He collected all the toys of the Playboy lifestyle — boats, planes, cars. All three of his wives have been bunny quality, and Trump Tower isn’t just a tall building.

And then things got weirder.

At a “news” conference before the second debate, Trump rounded up three women who shared recollections of their unwanted sexual encounters with Bill Clinton. A fourth woman condemned Hillary Clinton for serving as the court-appointed attorney in defending a man whom she accused of raping her when she was 12.

The women flanked Trump, who sat looking as pious as an acolyte about to recite the Apostles’ Creed.

Whether Hillary Clinton’s attempts to contain “bimbo eruptions” are sufficient to undermine her role in advancing women’s rights will be a tough call only for those to whom Ken Bone’s red sweater is a hero.

As for Elvis and Hef, they are so yesterday. Personally, I never could stand either one.