When I was in Madrid in 1966 wanting to absorb Spanish culture, I went to a bullfight. Two things made a lasting impression. One was the price of the tickets: a seat in the shade cost three or four times more than a seat in the broiling summer sun. The other was the sickening work of the picadors.
The picadors rode into the ring on horses sheathed in heavy, mattress-like padding and bore scalpel-sharp knives affixed to long poles. When the massively muscled bull was released into the ring, they surrounded it and began stabbing and slicing into its shoulders and neck, severing those rippling muscles until the bull’s capacity to wheel and lunge was diminished and, even more importantly, its magnificent horned head began to drop lower. This was crucial, as a lowered head would make it easier for the matador to reach between those lethal horns and spear his sword into the back of the neck to kill the bull. While the matador was certainly still at risk, his job would have been impossible without the prior work of the picadors who crippled the bull.
Right-wing picadors have so savagely and successfully crippled Hillary Clinton’s reputation over the years that her “unfavorables” were sky-high during this campaign. That should have made it possible for her opponent in 2016 to dispatch her with one mighty thrust of the sword. Nothing could more definitively prove Donald J. Trump’s unworthiness to be our Chief Executive Officer and Commander-in-Chief than his inability to do so. Surely, his dim-witted campaign will go down as the biggest blown opportunity in our presidential history.
Faced with the simple fact of a massively diverse electorate, he systematically set about alienating every distinctively identifiable cohort in our melting pot—Latinos, women, Muslims, the handicapped, LGBT citizens, immigrants. Watching him at work was like witnessing a slow-motion suicide. The only ones left to support him were those who wanted only to blow up Washington, those who did not care that the vast majority of things he said were outright lies, and those who chose to ignore his despicable personal ethics and behavior. He had all those folks right from the git-go. Given the fine work of the picadors, all he had to do was refrain from insulting any one of those cohorts and we’d be preparing for his inauguration. Just any single one of them left unaffronted.
Imagine. That modicum of restraint is all it would have taken to win. Never mind that he was not smart enough to build a ground game, never mind that he sat on his wallet when a few more dollars would have boosted his chances, never mind that he couldn’t advance a single noteworthy program or policy that gained the respect of experts. He could have won anyhow, so crippled was Hillary Clinton by that vast right-wing fleet of picadors.
If he couldn’t manage to defeat Hillary Clinton, just imagine what a hash he would have made of our national and international affairs. And so in the end, he and we got just what we all deserved. As The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once noted, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Even when justice looks as freaky as it does right now.