Christina Sandoval

English 786

Exploration Paper

This is a blog commentary on each major political party’s nominee and how they would handle the problem of terrorism, if he or she were to become President of the United States. Can the rhetoric remain the same?
Note – When viewing the videos I have hyperlinked, imagine that the words remain the same, but that they are coming from Henry Rodham and Donna Trump

After months of eager anticipation, non-stop campaigning, and snarky speculations, the two major political party presidential nominees have finally participated in the first presidential debate. From the Democratic camp we have Henry Rodham, whose intelligence and impressive resume no one can deny – from his early days as an ambitious and hotshot congressional lawyer, to his tenure as a New York Senator, his time as a professional speaker, his most recent endeavor as President Obama’s Secretary of State, as well as the pantheon of esteemed political and entertainment industry connections he has made – yes sir, Henry is as formidable a candidate as they come. But the real Cinderella story that everyone can agree on is this: there is no containing the wild card that is Donna Trump. Her unprecedented but meteoric rise among the primary elections has made her candidacy a historical first, not just for the Republicans, but also for the whole country, as she is the country’s first female presidential nominee of a major political party. Despite Donna Trump having no public service experience prior to this campaign, she is no stranger to controversy, dating all the way back to her younger days as a New York socialite who had as much a proclivity for successfully developing and branding major real estate as she had for changing husbands – Donna has been and remains a firecracker in this


campaign. What she lacks in political experience, she more than makes up for with her usual determined and plucky effort to shake up the establishment. I knew this was going to be a spirited debate simply by the way the candidates addressed each other – Donna alternated between calling Henry ‘Secretary Rodham, secretary, or Henry (as she started off doing so), whereas Henry Rodham addressed Donna Trump simply as Donna, and not as Mrs. Trump. It could have been my imagination, but there seemed to be something patronizing in the way he called her by her name.
A topic that is on every voter’s mind as the candidates continue to vie for your votes is how will they address terrorism. Despite both Rodham and Trump claiming to be tough on terror, they have very different approaches, not just in their plans, but also in their rhetoric. Once again, Henry stated that this is not a religious war against Islam. He also tried to assuage weary Americans that the number of radical Islamists falls closer to the tens of thousands and not in the tens of millions, as Donna’s camp keeps claiming. Can we take a moment to appreciate Henry’s Midwestern discourse in this clip which sounds both decisive and cute when he says (at 1:15), “we’re going after the bad guys and we’re going to get them, but we’re not going to go after an entire religion and give ISIS exactly what it’s wanting in order for them to enhance their positions.” Henry has that rare charm where he can come off as intelligent, grounded and adorable, all in one sentence. Donna’s consistent response to how she will fight ISIS and all forms of terrorism, both domestic and abroad, is reminiscent of a tween who is haughty because they know a secret and you don’t. When asked about national security, Donna often refers to NATO as ‘that huge disaster which will be obsolete’ (as she does at 10:58-14:00 in this clip of the debate) or she says that she has a plan to take out the enemy, but will not be


stupid enough to reveal it so that the enemy can know about it. Henry countered by stating that at least he had a plan, which also seemed kind of patronizing, however, since she was so brash, few would feel as though she did not deserve that.

Analyzing this debate left me with uncomfortable questions and thoughts about both candidates. There was almost an unsavory taste in seeing Henry get interrupted by Donna significantly more than he interrupted her. He showed great restraint in keeping his interruption count significantly lower than hers. And all of us are familiar with Henry’s polite persona, as well as his respect for decorum and his opponents, which can certainly translate into having the right temperament for this job; however, the thought that this influx of interruptions on Donna’s part (over 50!) was emasculating for him crossed my mind. Normally, we have come to expect male candidates to be the ones doing the interrupting, so it came as quite surprising that he was allowing Donna to shout over him. What’s worse is that although Donna Trump was louder, she wasn’t saying much that sounded presidential or tempered, or even made sense. I can’t help but wonder that if Henry were to be elected, he would let other leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin talk over him in vital talks about Syrian negotiations or any other global issues. We cannot have a president convey an image of meekness, and while Donna Trump certainly was not meek, she was not poised, which also reflects badly on the United States – how can we possibly have a female president who gets emotional over everything being said about and to her?!

As a fellow woman, I felt put in a difficult situation because, while I would want to encourage more women into public service and leadership roles, I want those women to be


intelligent and rational people whose composure and rhetoric demand not just attention but respect. And it is really difficult to respect Donna Trump’s lack of respect. Throughout the debate, Donna’s frequent interruptions, as well as what she said during key parts of either Henry or the moderator Lester Holt’s phrases indicated that Donna simply did not want to hear it; she simply wanted to be the one who was heard. Despite having had a father who paved the way for her in the business world, Donna could not have been incognizant to the sexism women in a male-dominated workforce face, and so she should have already known that it was vital for her to keep her composure, no matter what. Despite all her privilege, I find it quite difficult that Donna Trump has not had the need to exercise control over her emotions, but if she has not had to, then simply in the name of taking away one more weapon for the opposition to use, someone should have taught her this vital lesson all women have had to learn. I was unsure of how Henry Rodham should have handled Donna Trump’s brashness – if he had spoken to her as parent would when scolding a child to mind their tongue, it would almost certainly have come off as patronizing. But by allowing all her interruptions, it gave audiences the perception that he was weak, or worse, timid. The candidates have another two debates coming up, in which they can woo, shock, or repulse us into voting. Regardless of political affiliations, there is one thing all citizens can agree on: no matter what, we cannot afford to have a timid president of the United States.