Reprinted with permission from The Main Line Times.
Since the deadline for my column was a few days before the third and final presidential debate, there was no way that I could be up-to-the-minute with the latest developments. But then, with bombshells dropping seemingly every 15 minutes, even the 24-hour cable channels have had trouble keeping up with developments.
The tape of Donald Trump’s conversation with a snide young host of a Hollywood gossip television show was somehow unearthed and shared with the world. “Locker room banter” by a man who was 59 years old at the time he uttered the awful sentences seems to stretch the imagination a bit. I mean, how many middle-aged men claim innocence because of “locker room banter”?
And then the parade of women who came forward, claiming that Trump had indeed done what he expressed on that fateful bus, despite his denials on national television, made us at least pause for a moment to consider. Michele Obama expressed the feelings of many men and women across America when she spoke about how offensive the language was.
However, maybe you missed Lawrence O’Donnell’s on-air “essay” on MSNBC about his friend Marlee Matlin, the extraordinarily talented deaf actress, who first came to public notice when she starred in “Children of a Lesser God.”
Now I never watched any episodes of Donald Trump’s wildly popular “Apprentice” reality shows, although my mother was very fond of them. She also is still very much attached to Judge Judy, although she never misses “Hardball” with Chris Matthews either. But since I prefer television shows with dramatic plots, I was unaware that Marlee Matlin had once appeared on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
O’Donnell related the story of how Donald Trump kept asking people, even writing notes, “Is Marlee retarded?” He seems to equate any kind of disability with cognitive disability. And we have all seen how he makes fun of anyone with a physical disability. I guess he extends his criticism to anyone with any kind of disability.
Matlin sent out a tweet of her own, which O’Donnell read on-air. She specifically said she did not intend to insult anyone or bring anyone down. But that as a Deaf woman (and she capitalized the word “Deaf” in her tweet), and a mother, she had a voice — and she intended to use it.
Many people and organizations have spent time and money and effort to eradicate the “R” word. Self-advocates have often led the way. What Trump probably does not realize — the list of subjects on which he is ignorant is long — is that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can vote legally.
The list of groups of people who have been insulted, attacked and probably jeopardized by Trump’s rhetoric is also long. And threats made about creating a “revolution” and the implications of violence are really disturbing. Claiming one month before the general election that the system is “rigged” may make Trump and his followers feel better about preparing for what looks like a major defeat at the polls. But as both Republican and Democratic activists, as well as scholars, have pointed out, this is a dangerous philosophy, totally unjustified according to all scientific studies of elections in America.
This is the first general election campaign for president which has made me uneasy. Frightened even. And I have been following politics since my very first vote — for John F. Kennedy for president. When he won, I thought, “This will be easy!” Of course, it was many years later till the candidate I voted for won the White House again.
But I never recall having been absolutely turned off by the charges, the vicious negative ads. I never appreciate negative ads. Just tell me what the candidate does that is good! Or what he or she plans to do.
And I cannot figure out why so many people who have never met Hillary Clinton, never spent time with her, can continue to insist that they hate her, that they distrust her. When I spent two weeks in Beijing at the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women, when Hillary Clinton was the first lady of the United States and led our delegation, when she gave major speeches in front of the official U.N. delegations, and when I saw how universally respected she was by the world’s leaders, I knew that Hillary was a very special person. And even smarter than her husband, which is not an easy thing to accomplish.
Because my husband and I have small condo apartment in the next town to Atlantic City, we saw and experienced the fall-out of Donald Trump’s bailing out of his casinos there. We still see the effects on all the restaurants and businesses when 8000 people lost their jobs with the filings for bankruptcy and the closing of so many casinos. To say Trump’s name is mud in South Jersey is being kind to him.
Thankfully, the election will soon be over. And I had booked my hotel room in DC long ago, when nothing was pre-determined that Hillary Clinton would be our next president!