Trump v. Hillary.
Coming soon to a theater near you.
Well, not really coming to a theater.
That might be the one place it’s not coming.
And certainly not coming soon.
A full six months.
Quite a lot, really.
So tell me. How much would you pay to cut to the chase? To have the election over, the results known?
A dollar? A hundred dollars? A thousand? I suppose it depends on the state of your pocketbook.
I would pay a lot. Because the next six months will be what the New York Times described Saturday as “the ugliest, most cringeworthy presidential contest of the modern era . . . a half-year slog through the marital troubles, personal peccadilloes, financial ambitions, social-media habits and physical appearances of ‘Dangerous Donald’ and ‘Crooked Hillary.’ ”
A grim prospect. And pointless too. What can we possibly learn about either that we don’t already know?
I keep flashing on the O.J. Simpson trial. Day after day of Johnnie Cochran and Marcia Clark, the lost eyeglasses, the glove. I wanted to clamp my hands over my ears, squeeze my eyes closed and scream, “Make it stop!”
Not the most laudable sentiment for a newsman, I know. But sincere nevertheless.
The cold truth is, life must be lived, one day at a time. And we must get ourselves to Nov. 8.
“To bear,” as the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell writes, “is to conquer our fate.”
So how do we bear this? How to endure a campaign guaranteed to be agony, at least for those of us who aren’t whooping for Trump? His supporters are having fun, energized, like kids excited to be allowed to stay up late, thrilled to find they suddenly have permission to let their fears and bigotries strut about unashamed at midday, the bedrock of the Trump appeal. To be honest, I don’t really blame Trump. People were already like this: He’s just the mirror, the blowhard wind stoking their flames.
What about the rest of us? Those for whom Hillary is like the firefighter who bursts through the door of our burning house — not necessarily the best person in the department, but who cares? She’s the one we’re counting on to escort us down the ladder to safety.
We could try to view it through the long lens of history. A thrilling, knock-down, drag-out fight harkening back to the bare-knuckled era of the early Republic. When Ted Cruz, already a fading memory, just one week ago accused Trump of being a serial philanderer struggling with venereal disease, the historian in me wanted to dig up when charges like that were being flung around in a presidential election. My guess: Jefferson v. Adams in 1800 (Bingo. Jefferson’s followers even presaged our current bathroom fixation, detecting in Adams a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman” while Adams’ camp referred to Jefferson as “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”)
So this is history. Or will be, when we get through it.
Something to look forward to.
Plus, Clinton’s going to win, right? I mean, between Trump proposing catastrophic schemes, and his offending Hispanics, women and Muslims, then continually re-offending them over the next six months with his leering, ham-handed, Taco Bowl attempts to regain their good favor, she has to win.
Though if Trump is evidence of anything, it is that certainty has left the building.
I have a quote I’ve been repeating — I’m not sure why it helps, but it does.
“Why, this is hell,” Christopher Marlowe writes, “nor am I out of it.”
I guess it helps because it implies that one day, eventually, we will be out of it.
And we will. On Nov. 9.
Although, whether that marks the end of one hell or the beginning of another, worse one, well, we’ll find out.