The US 2016, Final Debate: Opening Statements, before they happen

The final debate of the 2016 presidential election in the US is just about to begin. J. BROOKS SPECTOR found the keys to the Daily Maverick’s DeLorean time travelling machine just in time to get a heads’ up on the first few minutes of this third debate in Las Vegas, only a few hours before it took place.

Leading up to the final round in this year’s three-part presidential debate series, the Daily Maverick’s Brooks Spector was looking forward to hopping into the company’s trusty DeLorean for an advance look at the next mud wrestling between the two candidates. Unfortunately, the amazing vehicle’s flux capacitor wasn’t working properly, and so the car never managed to make it out of the present. Curiously, however, the radio could be tuned into a live broadcast of the debate for a few minutes. As we listened, we could quickly scribble down some comprehensive notes on the back cover of that infamous sports almanac left on the back seat of the car. And here’s what we heard.


Chris Wallace: Good evening ladies and gentlemen, to all of you here in Las Vegas, throughout the United States, and around the world. Oh, and you too, Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh. My name is Chris Wallace and it is my task to serve as moderator for this, the final debate between the two pretenders, er, contenders for the American presidency: Donald J Trump for what used to be the Republican Party, and Hillary Rodham Clinton of the Democrats.

The rules for this debate are very simple. There will be six 15-minute segments devoted to specific themes and the two candidates will be asked to respond to the questions for two minutes each, respectively, and then with one-minute rebuttals following those statements, until the segment concludes.

A word for the debaters: there will be no biting, scratching, eye gouging, conspicuous eye rolling and deep sighing, aggressive head bobbing or menacing stalking on stage by moving around suspiciously behind the other speaker.

The audience has been selected to include partisans of the two candidates, as well as all of the remaining people in Las Vegas who, in defiance of all that is reasonable or holy, remain undecided on their choice for the presidency. On the part of the candidates, there will be no pointing at individual people in the audience or shoutouts to planted guests.

Similarly, on the part of audience members, there will be no singing or chanting such phrases as, “liar, liar, pants on fire”, “so’s your old man”, “nya nya ni nya nya”, “USA, USA, USA!” or name calling of the respective candidates, such as “Crooked Hillary” or “Groper Donald”.

Accordingly, a dignified silence will be maintained by audience members, unless, of course, either or both of the candidates say something really, really funny or so totally, egregiously, blatantly untrue that all restrictions are lifted and audience members are thereupon permitted to pelt the candidate with the tennis balls that have been carefully placed in the canisters located under each seat in preparation for such an eventuality.

Oh, and, unfortunately, we must remind members of this audience that this venue is a gun-free zone. Anybody violating this instruction will receive a really nasty scowl from the Commission on Presidential Debates, the organisers of these debates. And a coupon for free drinks at the casino of your choice in Las Vegas.

Similarly, there will be no catcalls, booing, hissing, rhythmic applause or slogan chanting by audience members. Any violation of that rule will result in said audience members being accused of being part of a vast left-wing (or right-wing) conspiracy, and then summarily frog-marched to the Rio Grande River boundary with Mexico, whereupon they will be permanently exiled from the United States.

Now, is everybody clear on the rules? Well, if there are no objections – sit down, Donald, you can’t whine about the arrangements and comments until we actually start – all right, then. Let’s begin.

Before this debate was set to begin, backstage, Hillary Clinton won the coin toss to go first – once we dealt with the objection by Mr Trump that the coin toss had been biased until we used a mint-condition Morgan Silver Dollar from Donald Trump himself. Accordingly, we will ask Secretary Clinton first to offer her opening statement of her goals and values in running for the presidency.

Hillary Clinton: Thank you, Chris. It is a great pleasure – and a tremendous honour – to be here with you tonight, with our audience in this venue, with all Americans watching in their homes across our great land, and with all the people around the world who are looking in on and following with excitement – and more than a little concern because of some of the more outrageous things that have been said by some over the past 18 months – our great experiment with democracy, these quadrennial electoral contests.

This is a process that is open and transparent, and our forebears have peacefully carried out these elections, even during a catastrophic civil war and other major conflicts, and even in the midst of great economic turmoil, for over two centuries. And it is a process that, although not without its problems, has always been seen by Americans as one that it is increasingly fair and inclusive. It certainly is not one that has been traduced by any one political party or group as a scam or fraud. Ever.

Oh, and hello to you, too, Donald.

Throughout my campaign, I have spoken about the issues that are of great concern to all Americans. And I have set out what we believe is a comprehensive set of plans to continue the improvement of American life for all Americans. These are efforts that will build upon the work of a man like President Barack Obama with whom I was proud to serve for four years as his Secretary of State.

We are stronger together. We build together. We solve our problems and challenges together. We do not do these things by ourselves. It takes even more than a village. We are not a nation of lone wolves. We fix the things that need to be fixed; we do not destroy them out of pique or childish grandstanding. America was not improved by silly slogans, funny hats or angry social media messages banged out at 3am.

If I am elected your president on November 8th, together, we will improve all of our stakes in our economy. We will increase the minimum wage for all low wage earners to give them a minimum living wage. We will improve educational and training opportunities for those negatively affected by technological change or the disruptions of international trade.

We shall figure out better solutions to achieving the fullest possible support for the health needs of our entire nation, building upon the success of the Affordable Care Act that has already added nearly 20-million fellow citizens to the rolls of those who have medical insurance.

We will find a way, going forward, to finance education for everyone in public universities and colleges. We, together, will address the many gaps in our national infrastructure – everything from roads to bridges and tunnels, to airports, seaports, and train stations, to a comprehensive high-speed -nternet for all Americans – that continue to impede our national economic expansion and growth.

We, all of us, as Americans, belong to a global economic system. We cannot turn our backs on this globalisation. We have gained hi-tech jobs from this revolution as we have brought into being entirely new industries that increasingly underpin our national economy. And we have all benefited from the cheaper prices that come with being able to import products from the workshops of Asia and other lands. But we must make sure that all our international agreements on trade and investment protect our nation and treat all of us fairly in the face of an increasingly competitive global trading system.

Of course, we live in a world that has many dangers as well as opportunities. We have strong international partners in a stable system of alliances and institutions such as Nato, as well as our bilateral treaties with nations such as Japan and South Korea, and a deep relationship with nations such as Israel.

Moreover, under Barack Obama’s leadership and through the efforts of my successor as Secretary of State, John Kerry, we have achieved the beginnings of a new relationship with the nearby island of Cuba after decades of isolation. In addition, together with other major nations in the global system, we have achieved a carefully plotted multinational accord that will contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions for at least a decade into the future – if not more.

While it remains unfinished work, we are slowly but surely rolling back the heinous challenges of ISIS and its supporters.

But we must also recognise that with some nations – such as Russia and China – we have both important business together as well as points of serious disagreement. Most dangerously, our relationship with Russia is threatened by their support for the agonies of Syria where Russian support for Bashar al-Assad’s deadly regime continues to wreak death upon innocents in cities such as Aleppo.

Our vast economic relationship with China – a connection that has benefited both nations, I want to underscore, despite the wild talk that has emerged from elsewhere – remains problematic, not least because of the rising tensions in the South China Sea. We want to achieve lasting agreements there, but it will take co-operation, rather than confrontation and opportunism, to achieve that.

In every one of these cases, we have moved forward both by virtue of our own efforts as well as those of our allies and friends. Going it alone and thumbing our nose at our neighbours and friends will do nothing to assist in achieving these goals in the real world, unlike what one hears in some quarters.

Yes, Chris, I see your signal that my time is up. Let me simply complete my opening statement by saying I have made my career on co-operation with the other party in our political system, always working to find points of agreement wherever we can, to achieve progress rather than simply scoring empty debating points. That is the kind of government I would lead as president.

Chris Wallace: Mr Trump?

Donald Trump: Conspiracy, conspiracy, great big, YUGE conspiracy! The mass media, the Democrats, Paul Ryan, all those other traitorous Republicans, Mike Pence, oops, not Mike. Sorry.

I am the only one who can fix things. Iraq – shouldn’t have been there, but we should have invaded. Should not have withdrawn troops, but should not have troops there. It is simple. I understand it and Kuds, er Kurds and the Iranians, they have all that money we gave them after we took it from them. They have nukes.

I understand nukes. The North Koreans have nukes and maybe the South Koreans and Japanese and Saudis should have them too. Proliferation is bad, however.

We need to fix Syria and I cannot agree with whatever it was Mike Pence said the other day, but we’ll sort it out once we meet each other again some day before we take over the White House.

And Vladimir Putin. Great man. YUGE too. The biggest, bestest dictator on the planet and a strong ruler. I like strong men in charge. They can talk dirty on buses and locker rooms. Oops! Did I say that? I was young then. I am, as Melania said, older now. And richer too. Really rich. Taxes? For the stupid people like Warren Buffett. What a loser.

And that big conspiracy. Don’t you forget that. That’s how the election is being rigged and is a scam. Heck, the whole political system is rigged. What does that fellow in the White House know about the political system? He’s a loser too. Just like Paul Ryan. That man can’t make up his mind, can he? Sniff.

Besides, the polls are rigged as well. I am so going to win we don’t really even need an election. And that Hillary, what is it about her? She loves those banks, especially the foreign ones, while she gives a big hug to the subversive idea of open borders with Mexico. Mexico, for cryin’ out loud! That’s why I suggested a wall to keep those people out. But everyone knows that now.

And her e-mails. Don’t forget her e-mails. She probably secretly gave the Russians our nuclear secrets because she hates my friend Vladimir Putin so much.

Okay, back to the Middle East for a second. I understand how to fix things once and for all in Iraq by capturing their oil wells and make them pay for all the costs we had in invading the country when I didn’t agree with it before I did (agree with it). Sniff, sniff.

And my hands. Look at these hands! Aren’t they some pair of hands? Big hands. Strong. Just like my heart. I have a doctor’s note that told you I was in the best health of any president ever. I bet she’s taking something right now. Something that wears off in about an hour! @£%() (&%@$ @£%()(&% @$% @£%() (&%@[email protected] £%()(&% @$%^&!!!!

Chris Wallace: Mr Trump. Mr Trump! Would you like a moment to compose yourself? You seem a bit agitated. Perhaps some more water?

Donald Trump: No, Chris! I’m fine. But of course I am agitated. Look at the mess Hillary and her Muslim friends have made of our nation. This could be the last free election of our nation and there is that conspiracy. “I’m mad as hell and I can’t take it any more!” I learned about struggle and survival, building gambling casinos, and commanding fellow students at a military academy when I was young. Best training in the world.

I took a small loan from my father and built the biggest, bestest, yugest real estate empire in the world. My buildings are the best. Too bad about all those people who lost out when I had to take the companies into restructuring, but those are the breaks in business. You snooze, you lose.

We’ll fix everything. Once you elect me. But, [staring off into the distance, eyes closed, as if remembering something memorised carefully] “I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 homicides and 63 violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

“We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’

“Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!’

“So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this any more!’

“I want you to get up right now. Sit up. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this any more!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this any more!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first, get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this any more!’ ”

Chris Wallace: Mr Trump, I’m sorry, but you have now surpassed your time limit for your opening statement. Just by the way, don’t I remember those last several paragraphs from somewhere else?

And then, suddenly, the DeLorean’s radio spluttered into a dull buzz as the dashboard lights flashed: “Warning – system failure imminent. Reboot entire system immediately”. Oh dear. Maybe Dante or Virgil had some advice for us about entering dangerous places…. DM

Photo: Figurines depicting US Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (R), of the Democrats, and Donald Trump (L), of the Republican Party, are prepared to be arranged within the traditional ‘Neapolitan Presepio’, a Nativity Scene crib, at the San Gregorio Armeno street in Naples, 18 October 2016. EPA/CESARE ABBATE


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