Monday night’s US presidential debate was billed by the press as the political equivalent of the legendary Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier brawls that transfixed global audiences in the 1970s, whether you were a boxing fan or not.
So, what happened? Hillary Clinton, the smooth Ali of this contest, showed up. But who was the gym rat she fought? Rather than assume the role of Joe Frazier, a tough brawler and ferocious counter puncher, Donald Trump looked and acted like someone who, having bluffed his way into the main event, now found himself fighting way outside his class, completely lost and running for his life.
But the debate stage proved as constricting as a boxing ring, and Trump soon found nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Facing a barrage of perfectly aimed and timed body blows from Clinton, he was the dope in Ali’s famous rope-a-dope tactic. Flailing wildly, and barely landing a glancing blow, Trump argued with the ref (aka debate moderator Lester Holt), swung wildly from his heels, and was left mentally exhausted and absorbing fact-based jabs from Clinton for nearly the debate’s entire 90 minutes.
Then, in the last minutes of the debate, Clinton landed her haymaker–Trump’s foul verbal abuse and debasement of a Latin American beauty pageant contestant–right to the jaw. Figuratively standing over her pummeled opponent, Clinton told us that that young woman has now grown up, become an American citizen, and was going to vote in the election. She didn’t need to say who the woman would vote for.
A dazed Trump could only stammer a rambling “not nice” in response. The fight was stopped. TKO Hillary Clinton. Let’s hope the press retires that Ali-Frazier analogy. Maybe Ali-Liston next time?