Last month, near the end of the first presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton laid a masterful trap for her Republican rival. Reminding viewers of Donald Trump’s frequent crude comments about women, she mentioned “a woman in a beauty contest,” and then unpacked the story of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.
This is American politics today: crude, crass, freewheeling, and tending toward the frivolous. America has had sexist, misogynist presidents, of course. Some have been astonishingly lewd and crude. I’m looking at you, LBJ!
Lyndon Baines Johnson may have been an incorrigible bully and inveterate womanizer — to say nothing of the copious amounts of Vietnamese blood on his hands — but his 1964 campaign featured a nuclear war-themed political attack ad that, though only aired once, is still lodged in the American consciousness.
At the end of that so-called Daisy ad, as a mushroom cloud rises onscreen, we hear Johnson’s voice: “These are the stakes. To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.” The implication was clear. Johnson’s Republican opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, was too dangerous to entrust with America’s nuclear arsenal.
Andrew J. Bacevich
What We Talk About When We Don’t Want to Talk About Nuclear War
Donald and Hillary Take a No-First-Use Pledge on Relevant Information
What Holt actually said was: “On nuclear weapons, President Obama reportedly considered changing the nation’s longstanding policy on first use. Do you support the current policy?”
The framing of the question posited no small amount of knowledge on the part of the two candidates. Specifically, it assumed that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton each possess some familiarity with the longstanding policy to which Holt referred and with the modifications that Obama had contemplated making to it.[…]