The American presidential election has become the longest slow motion political car crash in history, a Washington horror movie with a dangerous ending, whoever wins the White House.
That prospect became unexpectedly stark on Monday when Donald Trump appeared to invoke the Constitution’s Second Amendment as grounds for assassination. It was the moment the campaign turned chillingly ugly, although Trump and his campaign have vehemently denied that that was what he meant.
Across the Atlantic, we watch with suspended disbelief as the mighty US coughs up two of the most unlikely candidates for the leadership of the free world.
Few are impressed by Hillary Clinton’s jaded mock sincerity — either here or, it seems, in America. She is haunted by a cupboard full of skeletons, real and exaggerated.
But in Britain and across Europe, people of all political persuasions hope to God she wins on Tuesday, November 8.
An inconceivable president
The alternative — braggart billionaire Donald Trump — is simply inconceivable as America’s 45th President.
In Britain and Europe, we have our fair share of oddball power-mad politicos, some of them allegedly corrupt and a few you would like to see behind bars.
But none could hold a candle to “The Donald.” None are so weirdly wild and devoid of self-awareness or emotional restraint.
In our cautious, politically-correct environment, none could have survived such misogynistic, racist or otherwise unacceptable outbursts ranging from infantile tantrums to sinister, calculated abuse.
From 2,000 miles away, Donald Trump has seemed over the years like a cartoon American tycoon — brash, bullying, braying and not to be taken seriously. Trump Towers stands as a concrete monument to his vulgar bad taste. Exotic Ivana was the perfect adornment — until she herself was Trumped by actress Marla, who in turn was Trumped by model Melania.
Are millions of US voters deaf?
There are aspects of Trump’s past which are not at all funny. Did that free-flowing concrete come with Mafia strings attached?
His route onto the Republican ticket makes a mockery of America’s log-cabin-to-White-House dream.
Between them, the Republican and Democratic parties have delivered the finest leaders the world has ever seen.
How is it possible that a loudmouth with no safety catch on his shocking opinions can beat all-comers for the nomination?
How can he be one of only two prospects for leadership of the world’s greatest superpower?
Are millions of American voters deaf and blind to the risk of putting this reckless man in charge of the nuclear button?
His extraordinarily misogynistic outbursts against female journalists like Megyn Kelly are totally out of order. So is his blundering attack on the parents of a Muslim soldier killed in action.
An ‘intolerant incitement to murder’
But his apparent suggestion that Hillary Clinton might be shot dead for imposing gun control is by any standards an intolerable incitement to murder.
This cannot be brushed aside as any sort of “joke”. America is making tragic global headlines right now for more than just this jaw-dropping political soap opera. It is engulfed by shooting horrors including school massacres and shopping mall atrocities. To the outsider, everyone seems to be armed to the teeth and ready to fire. And police seem to be at war with their own black citizens, many inexplicably shot dead on camera.
Europe is having to face up to its own future of mass murders and suicide bombers. But our threat comes from an invasive, brainwashed “culture,” not from our own kith and kin.
America has lost four presidents to the assassin’s bullet and — with President Reagan — almost a fifth.
The Second Amendment allows the bearing of arms, but it is astonishing to the non-American world that this is interpreted as a right to build private arsenals of military-style killing machines.
It is a racing certainty that some trigger-happy fanatic will miss the “joke” in Trump’s throwaway remark. They will see it as an invitation to take up arms against another US president.
Hillary Clinton may soon become America’s first female White House incumbent. Even her worst enemies — including Trump — surely cannot wish to see her go down as the first female president to be assassinated.