Trump? How Could We?

Sep 28, 2016 · 505 comments
Judyw (cumberland, MD)
i don't think you understand the high degree of fear and loathing about the Clintons. There is something about them that reeks of lying, deceit, and lack of trust. The NEVERHILLARY supporters would, like me, vote for Nero's horse before we would vote for Hillary Clinton.

Trump is right on NATO - I don't think we should give Article 5 support to countries which don't make the 2% level in their defense spending. As a citizen I am sick of being the policeman of the world. We spend so much on defense now that there is nothing left for American and Americans. Frankly I believe we should withdraw from NATO and turn it over to the EU.

Hillary Clinton is nothing but a Neocon war monger when it comes to foreign relations. She will get us in another war, as if we don't have enough as it is.
Look at the mess she made in Libya!

I could go on but I am sure you understand how I and many other feel about Hillary. One awful thought is if Hillary is President, you know that it will be Bill running things - he will be overseeing everything she does. It will turn out to be Bill's Third Term.
ez123 (Texas)
Truly an odd and terrible year. A bombastic amateur on one side, and dishonest kleptocrat on the other.
Annette Keller (College Park, MD)
>> I am not enamored of Clinton’s stale, liberal, centralized view of politics, but she is sane and responsible; she’ll do her homework, can grow in the job, and might even work well with Republicans, as she did as a senator.

Now if only liberal media could write an article about supporting Clinton that didn't include a caveat that you actually don't really like her and why, people might take your statements of support seriously. These enthusiasm-killers that appear in every op-ed piece that mentions Clinton vs. Trump are having the effect you surely intend them to have, i.e. undermining all the other points of your article.
bob west (florida)
The scariest problem is that Trump has 84 million viewers watching him, which for him is a win even if Hillary won the debate! 75 % of the news today is about trump. He won!
Dossevi Trenou (Atlanta)
How could we? Because we did it before, Mr. Friedman.
Paul Leighty (Seatte, WA.)
It goes without saying that Il Trumpolini is in no way qualified for the Presidency.

Quite right. NATO is a strategic alliance that has served us and them in good stead over the decades. After two World Wars & 48 years of Cold War it should be obvious to anyone that the peace of Europe is our peace.

My question this morning is: will Il Trumpolini even show up for the next debate? I really should check the Vegas betting lines on that.
Gianni Pezzano (Faenza, Italy)
It is a pity that Arthur Miller is no longer alive. It would have been wonderful to have a new version of "Death of a salesman" based on Trump...
JMiller (Denver)
Sorry Tom. But it's far too late to shoot off your rhetorical flares into the cold North Atlantic night. The USS America is sinking and you and your paper and dozens of other media outlets have had plenty of time to mount a counter-offensive against Donald. Congratulations for finally doing your job.
M. Blakeley (St Paul, MN)
If Mr. Trump has paid no income taxes for years, does that make him one of Mitt
Romney 47%? You know, a moocher?
Donut (Southampton)


The Democratic establishment, including the NY Times opinion writers, lined up behind a status quo, Wall Street friendly candidate when every indication was that such a candidate would struggle.

Voters want change, but the establishment- in both parties!- plunked down for same 'ol, same 'ol in spades. The rubes will never notice, they thought.

Oh boy, another Clinton. Nearly as appealing as another Bush. Remember all the money he raised?


How is it that so many of the Very Smart People on this opinion page (and elsewhere in the Ivied halls of the smug and smart) haven't figured this out yet? It's not rocket science. Maybe y'all need to get out more... Really, give it a shot.

I guess the rubes just might have the last laugh here.

johan e (Sweden)
Yes, the Donald is a clown. What scares me is that even if he is beaten this November, what about next time around? Donald might be only the beginning of a new trend. Brace yourself.
John Q (N.Y., N.Y.)
I am not enamored by Clinton's connections to Wall Street, but then since Citizen's United you can't get elected to any high office without bribes from billionaires, so what can you do? As you so well delineated, Trump is out of the question,
Tod L (USA)
It's pretty simple, it is either Trump or the world's most corrupt and incompetent politician of all time, sillary cartoon

She is an utter, absolute disaster waiting to happen as evidenced by her long public history of corruption, lies and unbroken string failures that run from the day she first crawled out from under a rock into public view.

There is NO success other than marrying Bill and enabling his raping women. Not ONE success in her long miserable history

Had not the DOJ and FBI become as corrupt as she is, she would be in jail now.

Her failure in the Middle East alone disqualifies her from office.

Shame on anyone who would vote for this pile of excrement
Nicholas Zervas Md (Boston ama)
Trump is toast
Marc Wagner (Bloomington, IN)
I agree with you Thomas (not something I often do) and the prospect of a Trump Presidency is really frightening. Not because of his ideas (which are shallow and silly) or his policies (which seem to be non-existent). I fear him for his temperament. Normally, I would throw up my hands and sigh, knowing that no President can do too much damage. Simply put - because Congress (in is glacial approach to governing) will not let him/her. Trump is different. What will happen the first time Congress tells him NO! What happens the first time he meets a foreign head of state? Will he outwardly insult them because they disagree. Will he tweet Vladimir Putin? Or insult the Queen of England? Benjamin Netanyahu? Angela Merkel? How about the Chinese Head of State - in a culture which so highly values saving face, what would that do to the U.S image abroad? I just hope you don't have to reprint this OP-ED after the election.
Anne Conroy (Gladwyne Pa)
Well said. This is the best articulation of what's wrong with Trump, including a solid assessment of spin of KellyAnne Conway.
MoneyRules (NJ)
Enough with Political Correctness. Trump Supporters -- I came to this country (legally) without a dollar to my name. I worked really hard, got into Stanford and MIT, and have an advanced degree. I have nothing but utter contempt for you, white, racist voters. I will work hard for the rest of my life to send every single job offshore, because people like me deserve a decent life, not people like you. There, I said it and feel much better!
David J.Krupp (Howard Beach, NY)
Trump is a very dangerous demagogue who has a severe Narcissistic Personality disorder. He should never ever hold any political power.
Tom (California)
Mr. Friedman it's time to wake up! You wonder why? Seriously get out of your penthouse and take a look at the country you live in. This country is divided like no other on the planet. We are told by the left that we need to be tolerable, and anything that does not conform to their thinking the media and the politicians blast us for our beliefs. We had a president slam a health care product down our throats and told us this was better and it isn't. Your party deceives it's biggest supporters, the poor and the minority. We have concentration camps throughout the country. You know them as Detroit, Flint, Chicago, Baltimore and any other downtrodden area. These people expected your party to help them, and once again they get nothing. At least Trump has been to Flint and Detroit. Your candidate hides in the Hamptons and California. Is he perfect no, but what is she selling that O'bama has not already told us he would do? Hope and change has been tried for over 50 years by your party, and the masses still wait. Hopeless and changeless!
Steve C (Bowie, MD)
Mr. Friedman, the Times' readers will have no problem agreeing with your point-on assessment. Sadly, you are preaching to the choir. The people who most need to read your column are wearing blinders and ear plugs.
Marty (NJ)
Trump once said on the Opie and Anthony radio show that he has never been sick in his life.
Bud Fox (Staten Island, NY)
Hey Tom, how DID we put a man in the Oval Office who never ran or lead anything in his life? Who never accomplished anything? And look at the result. ObamaCare is a complete trillion dollar disatser, weve hadded 8 Trillion in debt, and are mired in 1% growth.
Dont ask questions like that Tom. You live in a glass house.
JV (Maryland)
Good column, but the starting analogy of"tenants paying mall rent" analogy isn't strong enough: Somebody needs to clue this blowhard jerk in that he's running for president, not mob boss. Trump wants NATO allies to cough up their protection money. Or else. God help us.
Winston Smith (London)
Hillary is corrupt and a politically astute liar which is no big deal as she is an establishment political hack and most people are aware of this flaw in American politicians.It really takes a starry eyed prize fool to put any faith and trust in her kind as her one answer, no two, to the question on the Trans Pacific Partnership proves.She lied Mr. Friedman, for political gain. She told a fabricated story about Bengazi and lied for political gain. She told lies about her emails for political gain.She will lie for political gain as reliably as your fawning attention with blinders on wakes up each day with more insipid praise for her. By all means use the word "we" when discussing Hillary as you are peas in a pod but please be careful using it elsewhere as there is no we. You are you and I've got to take a shower.
katea (Cocoa)
Thinking people have always asked this, but you are paid to make the argument. Where have you been the last 2 years. Only in the last months have you even addressed this, don't be condescending now
PogoWasRight (florida)
To elect Donald Trump to be our President would be an embarrassment for the ages, and would destroy our reputation among nations, a reputation which hsa been going downhill for some time.. I am 86 years old and I simply do not understand how even one voter could cast a vote for Trump. Shame on us......
paul (planet earth)
The elite are panicking and it's a lovely thing to watch. Mr Trump must be getting it right.
Barbara (Grand Rapids MI)
Donald is a sad joke, plain and simple. His thin skin is a clear giveaway that he can only dish it out; he cannot take it. He is a real sissy, a man who parades as brave and clever (he "knows words"), but has now shown all of us what a wimp he really is. BTW, what weighs 400 lbs? The bed? The person sitting on the bed?
PL (Sweden)
Great column, and absolutely valid conclusion—but one little flaw. To the point about Iraq’s oil Trump could respond: “I never said, ‘Take the oil and keep it till all 140 billion barrels are pumped out’.”
Philboyd (Washington, DC)
Since the end of the debate, the New York Times has had, by my account, 62 editorials, opinion pieces, 'news analyses' and guest reviews extolling Hillary Clinton, castigating Donald Trump, singing hosannahs to her greatness and spreading jeremiads about the consequences of taking him seriously.

Meanwhile, papers like the Charlotte Observer and the Columbus Post Dispatch note that 'undecided' voters in those states - which actually matter -- agreed with Trump's positions by a wide margin, and a poll by Time Magazine online with over 1.7 million respondents found Trump the clear winner.

I'm reminded of what Lord Melbourne said at a similar moment in history: “What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.”
Ed (Oklahoma City)
I can't wait to hear what he says about Conway, the guy who beat down a female reporter, Rudy, Pence and other members of his campaign coterie including his kids when he loses in a landslide.
Bennett S (Austin)
What about cyber security? We can fight against the 400 lb guy in his bed with ten year old kids who are experts in computers, like he said his son is.
RR (Allentown, Pa)
How could we elect Trump? Why don't you ask the people who are voting for him. Why don't we finally turn the spotlight on them. Why doesn't the media wonder why there are Trump signs planted in affluent, mostly white neighborhoods? These certainly aren't disadvantaged, left-behind, economically challenged people. Why are they voting for Trump? Maybe you should be asking why wealthy, white, Fox news-watching birthers are voting for Trump. Maybe, just maybe, Clinton was right. A large segment of our country is simply filled with deplorable citizens.
Labrador1 (Lubbock, TX)
The venom and bile in the largest media outlets- NYT and WaPost- towards Trump is on display daily; I cannot count a single positive article re: Trump and daily there is at least one negative article or outright attack in either the news or the opinions, while Hillary gets the "pretty in pink" treatment. It may be difficult to hate Trump as much as you do and still be reasonably fair, but you haven't even made the attempt; thus you shoot yourself in the foot with the gun you don't want. Your coverage has been a major factor in my vote and the money that I will send to the Trump campaign. I don't like either candidate, but your bias is disgusting and drives me to the one that I distrust the least. Enjoy.
David Henry (Concord)
Conway is a hired gun, but her history of right wing causes makes her a collaborator as well. She believes in Trump.

History will remember these types who put wallet before country.
Donna (St Pete)
Agree with Friedman. Also,I just don't think he looks presidential. Over bleached hair that needs a decent haircut and making faces like a ten year old getting a flu shot.
Late2DaGame (Moscow)
Tom Friedman can tell you how a taxi driver in Mumbai feels, but he cannot comprehend the concerns of the vast swaths of the US that have not only been overflown, but overlooked by America's elites for decades.

Tom shouldn't be asking "how could we?" but rather "how far gone are we?" How badly has the US system failed its people when about half of the population is willing to throw its support behind anyone--Trump--who gives hope for a break in the cycle of more of the same?

All of the "world is flat" globalism that Friedman's been spouting for years is being consciously and roundly rejected by over 40% of the American electorate. Tom Friedman should spend a bit less time in Dubai and a bit more time in Cleveland figuring out why that is.
JPE (Maine)
How? Because what Hillary and others inside the Beltway have brought us hasn't worked. Spend some time driving from upstate New York across northern PA and OH, into Indiana. Come back through KY and WV. These are the states worst hit, but they illustrate what Bernie was trying to say: people are worn, dejected and, finally, unforgiving. To have Hillary deny she described TPP as "the gold standard" aptly places her amid a government that is totally distrusted. Decades of benefits to the 1%, sneering at those who are hurting. No thanks.
Richard (NYC)
How? One way is by disparaging and denigrating -- slyly in "news" reporting as well as openly in opinion pieces -- the sane candidate for fundamental changes in the political system that would help ordinary folks. I mean Bernie Sanders, who was poison for the establishment, including the NYT.
hawk (New England)
Mr. Freidman, I asked myself that very same question 8 years ago, a community activist? A no show vote in the Senate? Not even a full term?

Ah, but the day job! What was it? Oh yeah, College Professor on Constitutional Law.

President Obama has declared, more than a few times that voting should be mandatory. Wait, what happened to my Right of Free Association?

I guess we didn't cover that chapter. Speaking of schooling, HRC had a little visit with the FBI and promptly declared; "the dog ate my homework". I'm guessing she is not familiar with the Constitution either, especially the 5th Amendment.
John (New York City)
It comes to this for me; Friedman is correct. Trump is an idiot. He is an example of an adult child. Ever seen, or been around, an adult who is stunted emotionally and developmentally? He is just such a person. They are out there. They exist. Case in point; Trump.

But I'll leave this aside. Friedman is also correct to ask exactly how it is that the American people have even allowed him to get this far? I get that he's a media creation (for the most part). He inflames. He creates "eyeballs and clicks" moments galore. The media are motivated into a profit making frenzy by it. (Shame on the media for letting him get so far). The circus comes to town and everyone wants a piece of the action. As a Capitalist I get it.

But how has he come this far? How has this American Caligula reached this point? Is it because we all have grown fat and complacent within our Empire (because empire is what America is)? Is it because we perceive no existential threats, so that we faun over such mendacious individuals as this? What? In Trump are we looking at a mirror of our own societal visage? If we begin to recoil from this image perhaps it is time for a little introspection and change, eh? If for no other reason than this perhaps we should thank Trump for revealing just how ugly we can be.

American Net'Zen
Jack (NJ)
Great line of reasoning answering the wrong question. It's not "How Could We"? It's "How come She's not beating this guy by 50 points"? as she so unwittingly asked last week. For a lot of people in the country, right and left, she's as unpalatable as him - but for a host of different, but equally unattractive reasons.

Tom, the trouble with blind spots is you can't see them. Should this awful man win the election she will blame us!! The truth is that if Joe Biden or Mitt Romney were running this would be a historic landslide for either side.
Rick LaBonte (Albany)
Trump is the only candidate in recent history not 100% owned and operated by the ruling class elites - the corporate socialist oligarchy. Clinton is the epitome of the corrupt Washington insider, the globalist, America-hating totalitarian socialist.
Let's Be Honest (Fort Worth)
How could the American Democracy ever have nominated someone as incompetent to be president as Trump?

Easy. When you have a news media that's largely infotainment, you can get candidates that are largely infotainment.
Randall Johnson (Seattle)
"A Dutch-led investigation has concluded that the powerful surface-to-air missile system that was used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine two years ago, killing all 298 on board, was trucked in from Russia at the request of Russian-backed separatists and returned to Russia the same night."
-- New York Times

But no problem, Trump and Putin are buddies. Trump admires Putin.
JMN (New York City)
Hmm. Not really sure what Friedman means by Clinton's "liberal . . . view of politics"; but if he means that she's a Liberal Democrat, . . . No! Clinton's a corporate, center-right Democrat, who's too hawkish regarding geo-political matters and who'll be too soft on Wall Street to rein in it's excesses at the expense of the middle class she is pretends to care about. That said, Trump is a horror, a bigot, a bully, a clown, a liar, an incompetent businessman, who has no respect for, let alone an understanding of, democratic institutions or world diplomacy, no command of facts; he's immature, childish, thin-skinned and just plain dopey.
Stephen (Woodbridge, CT)
Tom, you are completely right. But there is no longer any need to convince anyone who has two neurons that speak to each other that Donald Trump the liar, the fraudster, the tax-evader, the bigot, the racist, the misogynist, the Nazi, etc. would be a disaster if elected President. But someone in the media needs to paint the apocalyptic picture of America and the World after a Trump election. What might there be in Trumpian America? Concentration camps housing African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims and yes Jews as well, guarded by an SS-like cadre of White Supremacists under the direction of Mr. Banon? Country-wide "stand your ground" laws that permitted anyone to shoot anyone else whom they thought threatened them or whose skin color or religion they didn't like? US business becoming a massive kleptocracy like it is currently in Russia? The US becoming a client state of Russia with a new Iron Curtain dropping over much of Europe? The American people need to have a picture of the country and the world they will be living in if Trump were elected and then they might come to their senses.
jwgibbs (Cleveland, Ohio)
The answer to you question: Trump? How could we? is very simple. The American electorate isn't too bright. Even if Clinton wins, it's disturbing how many American citizens will vote for Trump.
Aaron of London (London, UK)
Yes he was a disaster. However, the rest of of us outside the US don't sleep too well. Remember, you reelected Bush and Cheney; the team that started the dumpster fire of all fires there in Iraq. Like many people around the world, I am acting like someone who is waiting to hear what my CAT Scan shows before renewing my newspaper subscription. Our lives are on hold until we know whether or not, the world will suffer from something more devastating than cancer, a Trump presidency.
Jimmy (Greenville, North Carolina)
Donald Trump is nothing but an outside agitator who does not understand how government works.
Bartolo (Central Virginia)
A lot of us felt the same way back in 1980.
PeterS (Boston, MA)
Using Trump's word, the fact that this man got as far as he does is a truly sad commentary of our country.
Sweetbetsy (Norfolk)
I am so sick of Trump and his minions trashing our country. Everything about him is so fake.
William Keller (Sea Isle, NJ)
Reinforced with the demons released from the souls of the morally healed, the GOP/FoxNews monkey army are following their swineherder and helper to a precipice. They will neither hear nor understand your and any prophet's warnings. This is all so biblical and tragic.
Adam H (Indiana)
Trump is terrible, there is no doubt there. I will, however, vote for him because he is not Hillary Clinton, the most corrupt politician of our time.
Robert FL (Palmetto, FL.)
People who still support trump need to Google "reckless endangerment".
That is what they are doing to this country.
Now check out "patriot".
lol (Upstate NY)
Reading this column has to lead you to wonder what Trump's supporters are thinking (it's not an uplifting speculation). Most depressing is seeing interviews with "millennials" who plan on voting for Stein or Johnson or Trump himself. Their logic is as weird as their appellation. Wake up! A vote for Stein is a vote for Trump. A vote for Johnson is simply inexplicable. A vote for Trump is like smoking cigarettes - a slow but certain horrible death. If Trump wins, one thing is certain - there are going to be millions of Americans with a serious case of buyer's remorse in about six months. What a sad state of affairs.
Dossevi Trenou (Atlanta)
How could we? Because we did it before, Mr. Friedman. At those times when the Democrats chose a nominee that was not up to the task.
C. Morris (Idaho)
"Electing such a man would be insanity."

Tom F.,
We are now using the right words. This Trump is an authoritarian who loves to 'punch down'. He has also promised, in anger, to go after the press. He may go after his political opponents. He may punch down all the way to 'letter writers', who knows?
Sue Mee (Hartford CT)
It is interesting how global elitists like TF dismiss Trump as a complete inexperienced naif but supported Obama, a community organizer with minimal accomplishments under his belt compared to McCain and Romney. Now, the great unwashed should listen to their betters and cast their votes for a protected felon who breached national security with her servers and emails and let 4 men die in Benghazi. She turned on Gadaffi when he was helping the US. She destroyed the ME. She was unable to negotiate a proper conclusion to The Status of Forces Agmt in Iraq which resulted in its turmoil. Now a man comes along who understands where and why America hurts. He maybe wasn't the boy who sat in the front row and memorized his answers but he gets what America wants and it is not what Hillary is serving.
mikemcc (new haven, ct)
Clearly, you are as mystified as the rest of us as to how this one-time joke has metastisized into the biggest threat to our country. Krushchev's prediction may be on the cusp.
Frau Greta (Somewhere in New Jersey)
Yes, this is insanity. In another article in the Times this morning, Trump campaign staff were said to be wringing their hands and fighting internally about how to make this man something he isn't and never will be. At what point do you think they will finally realize you can't change someone as disturbed as Trump? In a way, his staff is possibly more evil than he is...he at least has the excuse of some sort of deep psychosis. They, on the other hand, including the despicable Guiliani, are very aware of his illness, yet they continue to beat the drum.
mb (Stamford, CT)
I'm thinking about Kellyanne Elizabeth Fitzpatrick Conway's home growing up - imagine the behaviors that she must have witnessed that would ultimately lead her to her current role defending Donald Trump. Nothing comes from nothing.
Roberta Branca (Newmarket)
Here's a statement I NEVER expected to hearfrom Thomas Friedman:
"I am not enamored of Clinton’s stale, liberal, centralized view of politics, but she is sane and responsible; she’ll do her homework, can grow in the job, and might even work well with Republicans, as she did as a senator."
Sir, I have read your columns over the last decade with the expectation that you are going to take a centrist position on any issue of the day. If Obama implemented a centrist solution -- like that watered-down ecenomic recovery package -- you whined that he should have been more centrist. When he took the public option off the table and replaced it with the individual insurance mandate you whined "he should have been a more flexible negotiator." Honestly your columns are the only thing that fools me into thinking the centrist way makes any sense. I am pretty sure this statement wasn't uttered by you at any time in the 1990s when a different Clinton was in the white house. I wonder what the difference is between centrist Hillary, centrist Bill, and centrist Barack? Hmmmm . . . let me think.
Ace (NYC)
One day this columnist will wake up and realize that it is not a question of President Obama's "working with Republicans," or soon-to-be President Clinton working with Republicans, it is the fact, the ongoing reality, that Republicans WILL NOT work with a Democratic president. Whether the underlying factor is fixing the poisoned water supply in Flint or confirming a Supreme Court nominee with 11 months remaining in a president's term, they will not cooperate. They will actively sabotage. McConnell and Ryan are quite open about this and in-your-face. They are a disgrace. The fracture the functions of government, and then say government "doesn't work." Kind of like the juvenile delinquents of old who poured mothballs into a gas tank and then stood some distance away and laughed when the owner couldn't start his car. Is it any wonder their nominee talks and acts like a spoiled, bratty kid?
nzierler (New Hartford)
It's clear that Hillary and Donald both have personality issues that compromise their likability. Let's call that a draw. Now let's look at credentials to be president. Then go to the title of Friedman's column: Trump? How Could We? The question is rhetorical.
steve (nj)
You can thank President Obama's policies, Social Justice Warriors, Political Correctness, the education system, and the blatant lawlessness of the Democrat party for Donald Trump's ascension.
zb (bc)
Everything about Donald Trump repels me. Everything about that tens of millions of Americans support Donald Trump disgusts me. Everything about the possibility he might become President scares the hell out of me.
Olivia (NY)
Until Trump's debate comments about hacking, I was unaware that the average bed weighs 400 pounds.
Scott Everson, RN (Madrid)
I find it extremely distasteful and unprofessional of you to equate voting for someone with a severe mental illness. If you can't see wrong and/or inappropriate that is, then I feel sorry for you. How does one flag an entire article as inappropriate?
Joshua Schwartz (Ramat-Gan)
"Electing such a man would be insanity"

And yet a major party nominated him? Are you saying that that party is insane or that those who support the candidate of the party are insane? Are you saying that those who would vote for him for president (not I, but then I will not vote for Mrs. Clinton either) are insane?
Paul (DC)
Don't know what to make of Friedman and his hedging at the end. But one thing is for sure, electing Trump would be national insanity.
Perspectival (New York)
Thank you for calling out what needed to be called out. Conway is allowed way too much benefit of the doubt by pundits. It's time they did their jobs and ask follow up questions.
rgfrw (Sarasota, FL)
The question you did not ask Mr. Friedman: Why are millions of Americans going to the polls in Nov. to vote for Donald Trump? If the nation can't come up with an answer for this and address the reasons for this we are in trouble.
Sal D'Agostino (Hoboken, NJ)
There's only one explanation. This is by and large a stupid country.
William Lindsay (Woodstock Ct.)
Trump is beyond despicable. Why would anyone have to "pinch their nose" to vote for HRC? The stench coming off the Trump campaign is poison.
"Electing such a man would be insanity." is putting it politely.
Robert Roth (NYC)
“Yes, I supported the Iraq war as a citizen, but Hillary voted for it as a senator when she had access to the intelligence and her job was to make the right judgment.” He just as easily could have said, "I read Thomas Friedman and he convinced me to support the war."
D. DeMarco (Baltimore, MD)
'When challenged on that by MGM Resorts’s C.E.O., James Murren — who argued that his business was up, that the economy was improving and that Clinton’s job as secretary of state was to create stability — Conway responded that Clinton had nothing to do with any improvements in the economy because “she’s never been president so she’s created no financial stability.” '

Did Kellyanne just admit President Obama has improved the economy and created financial stability?
Almighty Dollar (Michigan)
Business has vilified the Democrats and taxes and Obama for years. They threw in with Religious Fundamentalists and Alt right racists. Quite a 3 legged stool. But guess what? There are more fundamentalists (obsessed with gay sex and birth control) and alt-right folks (tuning into Brietbart, Fox news and wringing their hands over the hundreds of people Hillary has supposedly murdered as well as Benghazi and Obama's Kenyan, Muslim, foreign roots, than there are Wall Streeters. And now they are willing to vote.

However, the main street Republicans, and Wall streeters are still voting with them. Just look at religious Utah, and the hedge funders on Wall Street.

So please Tom, don't say how could "we". It's Republicans and their allies, from the Koch Brothers to the gang of 5 on the Supreme Court who said individuals should get any gun they want and monied interests can donate as much money for elections as possible with no disclosure. Take a look in the mirror, Sir.
Thomas Renner (New York City)
We are here because for the last 7+ years the GOP has used any method possible to discredit President Obama, in part because he is black. While doing this they taught their base and the good old boy crowd that racism and bigotry are, after all, ok. They, just like Dr Frankenstein, felt they could control the monster. Well along came Trump, a person so crude and hateful he stood up and shouted from the roof tops all the hate and venom the GOP stands for and low and behold, the base learned their lesson well and here we are today.
Cristino Xirau (West Palm Beach, Fl.)
As I watched the Presidential Debate on Monday night I couldn't help but think, Donald J. Trump is a colossal bore.
frostbitten (hartford, ct)
"How Could We?" Yes, reading this article was really depressing while realizing that so many people are actually falling for this guy.
Joel A. Levitt (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
How could we? We won't!

How do we cure the hatred that so many of our factions seem to feel toward all the others? Perhaps, some other poster has an answer -- I wish I did.
Matthew Clark (Loja, Ecuador)
There was a big sigh of relief after the debate on Monday night from everyone who fears a Trump Presidency. But no one should get cocky. Hillary Clinton could easily underestimate Donald Trump to her, and our, peril.
Ceilidth (Boulder, CO)
I think the only bed that weighs 400 pounds is the one with Donald in it.
JRGuzman (Puerto Rico)
Mr. Friedman questions how could we elect Trump? The obligatory question is why responsible Republicans are still endorsing this narcissistic fool?
ivehadit (massachusetts)
What is wrong with the electorate? Do we turn our brains off when we elect our next leader, that we're so locked into our party positions, it doesn't matter what we do to the country? What kind of patriotism is that? Do we succumb so badly to our internal prejudices that we would do in the polling booth what we would never say in public? The eagerness with which the public wants to trash Mrs. Clinton needs analysis and Mr. Trumps immigrant, race, and religious baiting is behind this. Mr. Friedman forgot to raise that question. Maybe the wavering Mr. Brooks will do it, but i'm not hopeful.
g.e.Taylor (Sunrise, Fl. by way of Bklyn., NY)
Does Mr. Friedman, or anyone, have his yearly financial information organized to require the maximum possible amount to be paid into his federal, state, or local taxes?
Dave from Worcester (Worcester, Ma.)
Trump? How Could We? I think I have an answer for Mr. Friedman: take a look at yourself.

Mr. Friedman has been a defender of the system of globalized capitalism that has helped create the Trump phenomenon. Angry working class voters who have seen their living standards decline because of globalization are ripe for a demagogue's picking.

Perhaps the fault lies not in "we", Mr. Friedman, but in you and others who support an economic system that has turned many once thriving manufacturing towns and cities in this country into eyesores.
Constance Underfoot (Seymour, CT)
How do we put in the Oval Office someone who needs the media to rewrite, reframe, and re-deny history? Obama's desire to get troops out of Iraq is why they were pulled out, and that was the direct predicted power vacuum event that formed ISIS. Yes, Obama failed to get a force agreement, but I don't know if you can even call it a "failure" since it's what he wanted to happen.

Income inequality for blacks compared to whites have increased 35%, mainly because entry level jobs are being stolen by illegal aliens and companies that hire them, thanks to Obama letting millions of illegal alien cheap labor in to destroy them.

These are direct cause and effect events that are both predictable and that happened. You can't spin your way out of failure, just like Weiner can't say the sex texts with a minor was a misunderstanding. Rewrite that.
Victor (Albany, NY)
If you want to elect a president of a three-branch democratic republic, one of the two candidates was on the stage Monday night. Albeit flawed, Hillary is qualified for the job and will not irreparably damage our country. If you want a dictator who exemplifies the qualities of Putin, Jinping, and Jong-un, Trump your man. He doesn't seem to get it that there are two parties, two Houses, and three branches of government. No one person can get what he wants without consensus, unless you are Donald. That's why Hillary or Barack can't fix all our problems in 8 or 100 years. It's "we the people," and not one person. Imperil our nation, our democracy, and set a precedent for future demagogues (if you are not familiar with the characteristics of demagoguery, read the Wikipedia article, Trump fulfills every one of them), elect Trump.
Martin (NYC)
what is really the problem with someone who becomes incoherent before a audience of 82 million people and suggests the next day that his microphone has been tampered with? and he is applying for the job of President of the US?
operacoach (San Francisco)
Nothing surprises me anymore. The "Decider", aka Shrub, or George W. Bush, was elected twice. As a nation, an educated public is obviously our highest priority.
Nicholas (Timisoara, Transylvania)
How Thomas, how?, I tell you how. Trump is a snake oil salesman and snake oil is in high demand nowadays. The religious feeble minded believes in the sainthood Trump is peddling. It follows that he will claim to be a saint, and that 95% of Americans believe in his miracles... The gun toting jingoists holler for the man, no, they howl! The ones who lost jobs as the super rich who do not pay taxes and took factory overseas see him as a Savior - he will bring the jobs back, and miraculously give them good paying jobs. The haters and the bigots love him most, for it is the spew of snakes that sell the best to such bunch of, well, deplorables. And Trump is best at it. That is How!
JayK (CT)


Roughly 20% of the country are racists, another 30% are idiots.
Karl Steine (Europe)
Trump? How Could We?
- Easily.
What I saw was a schmoozing liar who apparently is craving for more power. She was a misery as US senator, and a complete disaster as secretary of the state. A pig with some lipstick is more electable than Hillary.
Matt Shed (Algonquin, IL)
Hillary Clinton: "there's a lot of smoke, but there's no fire"

I'm sorry. I'm not buying it. To me, Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt and dishonest politician that we've seen. She represents everything that we despise in politics. She has gotten filthy rich while being a humble public servant. No. Way.
JTSomm (Duluth, MN)
How? Denial, lack of education, lack of ambition. What I hear over and over is that Trump supporters are upset because someone took their unskilled job and moved it somewhere else. In today's interconnected world, workers have to be ready to change, add new skills, or re-train for new careers. It takes a great deal of effort and sacrifice. However, many of them think that, because a company hired them to perform a certain job that the company had an obligation to keep them employed forever. It doesn't work that way and it never has. And if they think a guy like Trump, who thinks nothing of stiffing contractors, will care in the least about their jobs, they are in for a really rude awakening (assuming they can be awakened).

I teach my kids that they are competing with people all over the world--not just in their town, state or even country. I don't say this to scare them but to teach them that they have to strive to be good at what they do and to keep evolving their skills. Always be looking around the corner.

We could close the gates of the US and live in our own backward society but we cannot stop the world from changing. China fell far behind during the Ming Dynasty because they thought they had everything they needed and were no longer interested in trade (over-simplification). The same will happen here because the world marches on. It is like deciding to stand still in a race because you believe you are sufficiently ahead.
David L, Jr. (Jackson, MS)
Donald Trump is a great mercantilist, isn't he? Having both candidates denouncing the TPP is lamentable. Robert Samuelson wrote a column in The Post called "Are these the last days of free trade?" that should be read. As for the maddest of mad things that Donald Trump has proposed, namely purloining the oil, here is Monsieur Riedel on that doozy:

Mid-century manufacturing isn't coming back. To borrow from Marco Rubio, I'm not an economist, man; but it looks like there's a mismatch between the jobs and the skills of the labor force (see Exchanges at Goldman Sachs podcast, September 12: Narrowing the Jobs Gap). The dynamism of capitalism, the creative destruction, miffs both Left and Right, especially in big transition periods, such as the one the economy is undergoing now.

Leftists, the loud ones, are all the time complaining about corporations, but Gerald Davis at Michigan says that the decline of corporations, once private welfare ministates, has propelled inequality:

I think it's quite clear that until we give our politicians the flexibility to work across the aisle to fashion imperfect but nonetheless real solutions to the problems average Americans face, we're going to continue in this vicious, cyclical pattern of gridlock = issues unaddressed = anger = populism.
Billy Maass (Manhattan)
Regarding Donald's movement to make America great again, the only movement that concerns him is his bowel movement.
mh12987 (New Jersey)
At long last, I don't think America will be putting Trump in the White House. I think we're done here. People have real jobs they have to get back to. They have lives to live. They can't attend to the business of their lives fearful that there's a lunatic at the helm. They can't afford to wake up every morning to some new crisis wrought by the pettiness and utter...smallness of this person. Let's move on.
Henry (Waltham, MA)
It is good to see that Trumps hired surrogates are mentioned in this piece. They are even more disturbing in a way than the candidate himself! These people (Kellyanne Conway, Corey Lewandowski, Kayleigh McEnany, et al.) blanket the airways every night, filibustering or deflecting every word against Trump, defending his outrageous statements and behavior - but what is so disturbing is that none of them are true believers in Trump, they're all just hired guns doing this for MONEY. It's disgusting and shameful to watch, but the press seems oblivious - for the past month Conway has always been spoken of by the press as "highly respected" or some other favorable appellation.

Seldom are they even pressed to defend their positions, no matter how ridiculous. It was refreshing to see Anderson Cooper actually push McEnany to answer a question related to Alicia Machado: about whether she was personally ok with Trump setting up a gaggle of reporters to watch her workout while Trump fat shamed her for the cameras - she disassembled trying to justify Trumps actions and earn her $$$, trying to pivot the conversation away from Trump (Cooper didn't let up, and I think she finally had to agree that maybe she wasn't entirely ok with male-dominated fat shaming workout sessions in front of a dozen reporters). Who are these people that will say anything for money? Some of them are highly educated elites - there is no way they are personally ok with a public fat shaming!
Debra (New York)
Well said. Some candidates inspire followers to be better or to do better; some bring out the worst that many of have have inside. We should run away from "leaders" who make us smaller, meaner, and less willing to grapple with facts.
Marc (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Trump complains repeatedly that our federal government suffers from not hiring the right people, while he justifies his stiffing of contractors by claiming that they performed subpar work. You’d think he’d hire better people.
Jane Maestro (Palm Beach, FL)
About half of our country is also questioning how this happened and the answer is that the other half voted for him. That's the real problem. Millions of Americans are willing to elevate a neo-fascist, unqualified, blatantly racist, crazy man to the presidency. That's how.
Shaun (Passaic NJ)
Excellent question and article. This needs to be featured in newspapers across the nation. Logic seems to have escaped many Trump supporters.
Jonathon Sanders (Jacksonville, FL)
Hillary is a disaster, dangerous and unfit to be President on account of the overwhelming mistakes, lies, tragedies and failed years as an elected official. Why Trump? Because the Dems made a pact with the Devil and its time to pay the Devil his dues. I was looking forward to O'Malley being a solid contender but all you left us with on your side was Bernie and Hillary. A kook and a crook. Now the Republicans are making their blood pact to keep her out of office by any means necessary.
Michael B (CT)
Your checklist of deficiencies about Trump that speak to him being unfit for the office of President is concise and on point. Here's the rub: at least forty percent of the electorate LIKES him, and thinks he's the man for the job. It's incomprehensible unless you concede that this is the reality of what comprises our nation's 'rank-and-file' voting blocks. What I find most troubling, though, is the entrenchment of the phrase "change candidate." Is that the real appeal? If so, what does it exactly mean? What's he going to change? A real change in the mechanism of legislation requires the election of a new slate of Congressional representatives. Over the past six years, every initiative proffered by the POTUS has been thumped by The Party of NO. "Washington is broken!" Indeed, but it is not because of "the policies of Obama and Clinton." The caveat that is that an egomaniacal racist, misogynist, sociopathological standard-bearer is simply filling the void of inaction created by obstructionists. He's not a change candidate, he's the darling of anti-Obamaists.
Michael E (Vancouver, Washington)
The column was about Trump. Electing him is insanity. . Then always those who say so have to somehow give time to their cons about Hillary. Stale. Why?! I am not sure why. I caught myself doing it. Then I watch Trump some more. I no longer feel I have to give a list of Hillary's cons to discuss Donald J Trump. See if you also can avoid it. Break the habit. Honestly, I think it's a side effect of the 25 year campaign against her, not actual views nor timely to a column like this one.

Plus she looks better and better all the time!
Ralph braseth (Chicago)
Trump has committed a crime against the United States. He's divided the country. He's pitted American against American. Rich against poor. Black and brown against white. Muslim versus Christian and Straight against gay. Losing presidential candidates including Ford, Carter, Bush, Gore, McCain and Romney all shared something in common. When it was time, they turned to the winning candidate, congratulated him and asked their respective supporters to get behind the president-elect because that's what Americans do. For the most part, we remain a collective body of citizens and who although have differences, come together. Can you imagine Mr. Trump turning to Ms. Clinton, extending his hand, and with sincerity, wishing her the best and then asking his supporters to fall in. Whoever wins, it's going to take some time and serious work to mend the fissure. Scary.
Bobak (San Francisco Bay Area)
Trump has many flaws and is not getting my vote but he raised good points that no one including secretary Clinton dared to answer. Still public has no clue on the cost and benefits of trade deals (NAFTA, TPPA, ...). Politicians and even he curent admin haven't explained in a layman's language what are the pros and cons. Why Mrs. Clinton didn't utter a word about benefits of those treaties for American ppl.

Same thing about NATO, it's an old alliance and may not have a justification today. At least I haven't heard a compelling one. A couple of lines in this article in favor of NATO doesn't cut it for me. Tell me why we are paying Turkey who is a big supporter of ISIS and his current gov has taken such an anti-American position. Tell me why we still pay and support them while they cut deals with Putin and Assad and have shown a bird to all required democratic values of NATO members.

With all due respect, I can't care less about what CEOs say about what is good or bad for us because they are just looking to fill their pockets like the one from Wells Fargo or ex-Citi CEO walking with $50 million after collapse of the economy and gov bailing out their company.
don't blame Mr. Trump for taking advantage of the loopholes and not paying taxes. Apple does that and many many other rich guys do the same. If that's the law then they are entitled to take advantage of that. I wonder how much Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, ... pay
Jim Bean (Lock Haven, PA)
Mr. Friedman, would greatly appreciate it if you would please answer your question...not why Donald Trump is a con artist fraud who should not be allowed anywhere near the White House...but the question as to why he receives the support of a large sample of self-destructive Americans who apparently have little in the way of critical thinking or reflective intelligence? It boggles the mind. Why are people drawn to a demagogue...the false Messiah...the populist hero who will cancel the political elite? We've got the Donald figured out but the cult followers remain a mystery despite their supposed sociology of alienation. The Pied Piper has taken the naive children into a dark hole and threatens to drag the nation there too.
Michael Tyndall (SF)
How could we possibly elect Trump? Just look at all the lies told by Donald in the debate. His followers believe all this tripe, and more. It's easy to adore a bloviating madman when you're angry and massively uninformed.
olihist (Honolulu)
Yes Mr. Friedman, for many of us who watched last nights debate and saw how Trump performed, it would seem like there's no way any reasonable American would vote for someone like him. But how many "reasonable" Americans are left out there after months of toxic political campaigning? People will latch on to whatever confirms their pre-existing political biases and say that their candidate "won" the debate. Facts mean little if anything to voters who have already made up their minds....
Eric (Milwaukee)
While I agree with all you say, isn't it also Hillary's job to close the deal and reach out to the disaffected voters who want him in the first place? I'm not talking about the 35% who would vote for a piece of vermicelli over Hillary because of their disdain for all things Hillary and Democratic. I'm talkng about the ones in the middle looking for change and a new vision. It's time for Hillary to pivot away from the anti Trump message and to the message of change.

If I were advising Hillary, I would tell her to ignore Trump now and close the deal with your message. Lay it out in simple terms. Something along the lines of FDR's fair deal. Look, Bernie and Donald, for all their faults, struck a chord with their messages of a new, fair deal for middle class workers competing for jobs against cheap foreign labor or college students trying to make ends meet while paying off large debts. You don't have to embrace Bernie's free ride for students or Donald's unrealistic approach to trade deals (that horse is out of the barn already). But give the American people some hope for a different future. We all know you're the best candidate, now take the time in these next 2 debates to reveal more about your vision and the passion you'll bring to 4 years as the leader of the free world.
Susan (Paris)
The very idea of Donald Trump in a room negotiating in the interest of the US with world leaders is quite simply preposterous. How does he think he'd get anyone to listen to him? Pound his shoe on the table? Threaten to sue? Keep repeating "wrong, wrong, wrong" until they cave in?

To those who plan to vote for him to "Make America Great Again" I can only say- "You cannot be serious!!"
Iryna (Ohio)
"we should have taken the oil" , is Trump serious? He must be really immoral if he cannot see how wrong it is to seize and appropriate another country's oil assets.
MPF (Chicago)
Your party, Mr. Friedman. The GOP made this possible.
Dorothy (Evanston, IL)
Dear David, you are correct that the displaced workers look to Trump to bring back jobs, however it's all platitudes. There is no policy or plan. It's pie in the sky that he's offering them. He cited Ford as one of the companies leaving the US, however the CEO refuted that today. He cannot bring back jobs to the rust belt. His own personal relations with employees is also questionable- how can you trust a man to bring back jobs or create new ones, when he stiffs his own employees? When he uses foreign workers on his properties or has his furniture and clothing lines manufactured outside the US?

His grasp on reality is tenuous at best. Last night he folded- whether because his lack of preparation, disregard for Hillary's prowess in debating, his ego that he can 'win it all', his bullying tactics from all the Republican debates or just plain lying, he showed he doesn't have the stamina to be President. One cannot 'wing' the presidency, and the people that surround him (Christie, Giuliani, Roger Ailes, Steve Bannon), are not the kind of people I think should be advising any president.

He and Kellyanne can spin this from now until tomorrow, but DT is not Presidential material.
Jane (Shanghai)
The shenanigans of Trump, Kellyanne and the rest of Trump's camp are suited to reality TV which thrives on "nonsense".
r (undefined)
Of course it's insane .. but I'll tell you one thing if Trump was for the war at first, he certainly realized it was a mistake soon after and for sure now. I have yet to hear Thomas Friedman say that. He probably still thinks it was a good idea along Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Dick Cheney, and a few other nut cases.

Orange, NJ
Mike M. (San Jose, CA)
Mr. Friedman the answer to your "how could we?" question is that Trump's ascendance to the top of the Republican party is really a testimonial to the total bankruptcy of this Party. It is also a sign that a lot of people in this country are unhappy about a black man in the White House, their economic status and the fast pace of social change here. Add to this, a news channel a la Goebbels, which has been brainwashing these people for ratings and profit.
Richard Gordon (Toronto)
" I see: Everything wrong is Clinton’s fault and anything good is to the president’s credit alone. Silly."

Of course it doesn't make sense, but as the old saying goes 50% of the population has below average intelligence. Trumps entire campaign is directed at this segment of the population.

This indeed is the great flaw in democracy. When you have a candidate who is as skilled at conning the gullible as Donald Trump is, then you have real problems.
zlm (ny)
We must not. We cannot. We will not.
JKvam (Minneapolis, MN)
When is the RNC and the GOP going to fess up to and take responsibility for this disgrace that they have foisted on the country? His candidacy is an outrage.
Wordsworth from Wadsworth (Mesa, Arizona)
How could we, Mr. Friedman?

Because of pundits like you who argued strenuously for the invasion of Iraq.

That started the inertia of a disaster train that fell into a sinkhole: the chaos of the middle-east; the Bush era propping up of the economy with derivatives, and subsequent recession; and the exacerbation of deflation which conservatives deny.
Nick (NY)

Because we wanted to see one last run of The Apprentice.

Where in the final episode (spoiler alert) The GOP bring Trump into their boredroom (sic) and announce to him: 'You're Fired!'
Bill (Durham)
Ok, so I think Trump is a fruitcake after the debate, but Mark Thomason has already weighed in 4 times on this issue so how could I possibly disagree?
Lynn B (<br/>)
Why are we surprised that the Donald has contempt for the general public? We can't afford Mar-al-Lago . We don't stay in his new Old Post Office Hotel (under budget-- perhaps because workers were stiffed ?) and he can't hear us praise him while he is talking . Most of us are too cautious to buy courses at Trump University .No use for us
HistoryWill (california)
We have already defiled ourselves in front of the world by letting him get this far.
Joanne Rumford (Port Huron, MI)
"Trump? How Could We?" Thomas L. Friedman,

Because not everyone can afford health care like Donald Trump can afford a psychiatrist. Not saying he needs help now is denying he needs help once in the White House.
Doodle (Fort Myers)
Electing such a man would be OUR insanity indeed! How did we get here? My heart aches, I feel like crying, but my tears would not come.
og (atlanta)
Finally for all to see Emperor Trump has no clothes
ML (Boston)
"I am not enamored of Clinton’s stale, liberal, centralized view of politics ... "

I'm getting tired of this. Clinton did so well last night -- if she was a man facing this psychotic opponent, do you think the reaction would be different? If a woman behaved like Donald Trump, running against a man as qualified, self-possessed, humorous, and smart as Clinton was last night -- can you imagine that the analysis might be different?

This election is very much about misogyny. Trump was so disrespectful of Clinton last night, interrupting her 50 times. Friedman, can you at least give Clinton some respect and some credit?
Lynn Ochberg (Okemos)
What a relief it is to finally read the NYTimes columnists and editors finally making the case against the Dreadful Donald almost as one voice. Mr. Friedman's column today hits every Trumpnail squarely on its head. Calling Hillary stale is a mistake however. Just because her policies in support of women, children, immigrants, minorities, really everybody, are only stale insofar as it has taken ever so long to get them addressed by our medieval Congressional Republicans. Her rejection of trickle down economics and support of new jobs enhancing infrastructure, renewable energy and small business inspires hope and enthusiasm. I love my future Madame President more every day
DB (Spokane)
Trump isn't going to do a third debate. He's going to get humiliated again in the second debate and he's going to say it was biased and rigged and he won't do it again. He's a bully and a coward and he's going to run.
Crossing Over (In The Air)
Everyone is looking at this the wrong way, this is not about who's more qualified, sane or who has the best ideas.

People are very, very upset. They've never had an option in past elections to blow up the system, now they do, now they can elect someone that dismantles everything they hated for the last 20 years. It may come at their own expense, but they are still willing to do it because it's a vote against not a vote for..... and that's what most people don't understand.

I believe this country is in for a very big surprise come November.
Joanne Rumford (Port Huron, MI)
Because there is chaos in the universe and now we have social media.
klirhed (London)
There is a good fighting chance that America will elect as President a conman who brags about not paying federal taxes. This is not a new low, it is an absolute low (short of electing David Duke or Putin via absentee vote).
eshebang (newyork)
The question will remain that in all their wisdom the Founding Fathers didn't make room in their writings that a con artist could 'rig' the process and rob the nomination from his 'party', out of sheer chutzpah, bragadoccio, you name it. I guess their century hadn't yet be wise to the process of Totali-tarism(as in mili-tarism), hadn't known yet the likes of Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, and the cohorts of them that thought of themselves: I can do it.

In one respect, I personally will hold our beloved President Obama for igniting the flint of resentment in Mr. Trump, when he, Barack, roasted the Donald at an official dinner. Mr. Obama planted the seed of revenge himself in Mr. Trump's barrel-chest. Look at him sitting there clenched teeth and all and hearing a crowd laugh at you oh so heartily and what he must have been thinking: "You (Trumpian expletive here), you wait and see. I'll show you. Not even a billion attached to your name and you dare insulting me like that. etc..." (Sorry I don't have his handling of insults to keep a longer sentence.) Revenge must feel so sweet to Mr. Trump and when he finally remove the mantel of his phony candidacy, he can tell himself: Mission accomplished. Mr. Trump is a wealthy psychopath, I guess we all agree, but the fool wanted more spotlight. I hope he enjoys it.
Kurt (Denver, CO)
Oh Thomas, the real question is how did we choose Clinton. The country is on the verge of going over a cliff: honesty, integrity and transparency are being sacrificed for political expediency. You chastise Trump for allegedly not paying his fair taxes by using the laws enacted by among other Mrs. Clinton AND you chastise us about Trump? Poor, poor naive Thomas.
S. Bliss (Albuquerque)
Even if Trump could create thousands of jobs, his history shows he's not in favor of paying them. They can fight with lawyers in court for their wages.

Trump lets us know the national debt would be no problem for him. Just offer the Chinese 60 cents on the dollar. Full faith and credit- an antiquated idea.

Defeating ISIS would be no problem. It just involves secret plans, taking oil, and appointing new generals with GOOD ideas.

Since African-Americans are suffering in poor, crime ridden neighborhoods, let's send in waves of police to stop and frisk them. Law and order!

Insanity doesn't begin to describe it. This is down the rabbit hole stuff. Up is down, right is wrong, no one would trust us. Chaos, disruption, death. That is our future if we lose our mind and vote him in.
Bill Camarda (Ramsey, NJ)
Trump is an insane, ignorant bigot, and every word you say about him is true. But the answer to "How could we?" is simple: You.

You and the rest of the globalized neoliberal American elite who let millions of Americans rot; who settled for ineffective means of helping them, and made no course corrections when those utterly failed to work.

I understand why you did it: you honestly thought most Americans could bootstrap themselves into the 21st century free market world economy. But you were wrong: a little training for new jobs that would be gone by the time they qualified for them was woefully insufficient.

Even today, you're still focused on eliminating barriers to capital rather than doing a darned thing for them that might actually work.

If this Trump loses, the next one will win, and may be even worse. When that happens, look in the mirror.
Whisk E. Chot (Washington DC)
I agree with Tom Friedman's column. But since he was one of the strongest proponents of the war on Iraq I find his comments on who supported mistakenly supported the war amusing and ironic.

I never believed it was a good idea to invade Iraq, no matter what he, the New York Times or for that matter Colin Powell tried to convince us of. We have been plagued with what resulted from that debacle ever since.
Bill (Yorktown Heights, NY)
Great article but I'd disagree with "anything good is to the president’s credit alone". He never gives credit to Obama aka "your president" for anything.
William O. Beeman (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Trump not only insulted Alicia Machado, he treated her--a Miss Universe winner--like property. His subsequent attack on her was revolting. It is times like this that Mr. Trump's true character shows through.
Lukas Bartels (Texas)
How do we put in the White House, a woman who has yet to release over 30,000 emails? A woman who has "drug her feet" on the attack on Benghazi? Someone please help me answer those questions.
Bill U. (New York)
In August 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in order to grab its oil and its foreign reserves. In 1941, Germany invaded the USSR in part to acquire its agricultural land and -- once again -- its oil.

This Trump guy sure chooses some interesting role models!
Abro. (Forest Hills NY)
Some think Trump is smart and able but he's a lot scarier than either of those attributes.
Sick of partisanship (New York)
If Sanders had been nominated there would be no temptation to vote for Trump.
Reader (New York, NY)
I haven't heard an actual plan or policy from Trump yet. He just says we're going to create jobs, he doesn't ever give a plausible scenario where it's possible. He talks about bringing back American manufacturing. Not going to happen. He talks about crime being up and black people continually failing at life. And Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers.
I did not see a debate last night. I saw a spoiled brat huffing and puffing because they weren't getting their way and getting called out for lying.
John Sieger (Milwaukee)
Trump didn't debate. He poured Kool Aid at the crazy bar for his angry white pals. Everything he does is an "appearance." Today he talked about the ratings. Even if he knew what a debate was he wouldn't be interested.
Federalist (Party)
We either have a deal or we don't. We should all be so lucky as to have a business partner like Friedman.
Trump realized hatred would win him the election - hatred of women, African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, etc., etc. This is his base. That is what his supporters - people that feel powerless - are voting for.

Trump and/or Conway don't have to make sense. His supporters are not swayed by reason.

Trump brags that all the polls say he won the debate - he should clue in Rudy Giuliani because despite all of Giuliani's crazy rants recently, he thought Trump should stay away from the next two debates.
kami (washington DC)
"Electing such a man would be insanity..." and yet, a sizeable portion of the American Electorate is supporting this "insanity", and therein, lies the "Clear and Present Danger" to this Nation and all that it has stood for since its birth. The ignorance, or is it the "Alternative Reality" that this portion of the electorate lives in, has become legendary. Cheered on by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and a whole contingent of the Rightwing Media outlets, not only this "Alternative Reality" will not shrink but will expand and chances are that if Trump does not get elected this cycle, there will be another Trump like ignoramus next cycle who could be elected. Unfortunately, the Republican Party is solely responsible for the creation of this "American ISIS"!
John Gilliland (Fleming Island, FL)
Just listen to Trump! He clearly has Attention Deficit Disorder. He cannot focus on any weighty subject beyond the time it takes to read a bumper sticker. What will happen when he has to attend long meetings with military and intelligence briefers? He'll check out mentally after 2 minutes. His clear lack of self awareness, empathy for other people, and grandiosity seems sociopathic. He is the biggest fraud and con artist since the New Nixon.
gary (belfast, maine)
Ms. Conway is attempting to trigger short-term memory loss via "tactical intelligence": “We don’t know what Hillary Clinton believes, because nobody ever asks her.” Ms Clinton could put that issue to bed by asking, in response, "Who's on First?".
T Ray Humphrey (Lumberville, PA)
Mr. Friedman, you articulate so well how I felt after that debate. How can we normalize Trump and pretend that he would be a good leader of this country when most of what comes out of his mouth are insults or his "gut feelings"? There is so little substance there.

Thank you for saying this!
R Stein (Connecticut)
How could we? Thomas, we might, we could. It's an election. Worse than elevating this ignorant thug for all the well-trod reasons is the fact that you, or I, or anyone, do not know what it would mean.
We don't know anything at all about what he might do, only that he has no consistency about truth, or fact, or policy. He might actually be a subversive agent, disguised as an oaf. He might serve only himself, or unknown parties. He might only be out to dismantle the Republican party. He might do this or that and Congress might not be able to stop him.

We just don't know, and honestly, an election is the wrong time to experiment with these many unknowns.
Gennady (Rhinebeck)
I do not want to put myself in the position of defending Donald Trump. He is not my candidate and I do not know enough about him. I want to address the corollary: Clinton? How can we?

The policy of regime change that has been advocated, promoted, and implemented by Secretary Clinton ruined two countries: Syria and Libya. Just one look at the way Aleppo was and the way it is now makes you shudder. Secretary Clinton bears direct responsibility for this disaster. See for yourself:
KJ (Tennessee)
How? The answer is, we don't.

Let's unleash our secret weapon. Let Rosie O'Donnell moderate the next debate. Or at least sit in the front row.
Chris (Bradenton, FL)
Who's "we"? You mean "you." The people decide their elected officials, not credentialed, self-styled elites like yourself. I don't always agree with their decision, but I do not have the gall to imply that millions of Americans are insane or deplorable. Not surprisingly, you just don't "get" Trump's appeal. Neither did the opponents of Brexit understand its appeal. Like a stumped homicide detective, Get Off Your Butt and Knock on Doors. Learn from the people; don't have contempt for them.
DKinVT (New England)
Does Thom Friedman really think that "working well with Republicans" has anything to do with talent or skill? Not at all. It means that on many occasions the interests of this corporate Democrat aligned neatly with those of dedicated corporatists on the other side of the aisle. Not actually anything anyone should be proud of.

By the way, which is worst in Thom's book? Stale, liberal, or centralized? Is he calling her a Stalinist?
Joe M. (Los Gatos, CA.)
How? Maybe we're masochistic. Maybe after years of absolute disgust at the self-enrichment at the expense of the public - maybe people have become suicidal.

Maybe the American people are co-dependent abuse victims. You heard Donald Trump say, "She deserved it," as all abusers do. Maybe we feel he's right about us, and we deserve him.

Maybe we feel hiring Trump as president will shake things up enough to generate change.

Maybe we're utterly delusional now - that any of us would actually survive a Trump presidency. Inevitably, he'll violate the restraining order, bust down our door, and hurt us more.

There won't be an American left standing who doesn't bear the bruises.

Because we agree with him, apparently. We think we deserve it.

America needs help now. Anyone know a good counselor?
Know Nothing (AK)
Perhaps before perhaps before you write with such assurance of the right way, it might behooe you to visit westward and the heartland of the nation where others, no less able and honest thinkers, believe we could and should.

I realize punditry is merely opinion and as such it is your entitlement, but do you not think that denying the legitimacy of other thought is a bit narrow and limited.
Elizabeth Bennett (Arizona)
Mr. Friedman, your question "How?" is timely indeed. How on earth have so many Americans become so blind to truth that they support Trump, the bloated blond airhead who doesn't have a hot clue about how our government works. If elected, he would be Nero, fiddling while America burns.

What is so discouraging is that the very people who need to be reading columns like yours probably don't read newspapers considered "liberal". They watch Fox News, and may read their local papers--which merely reinforce what they already believe.

Are these vincibly blind ignoramuses even reachable? The old saying "when ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise" has never been more true. Those of us who are used to moving in academic circles have no idea what lurks in the American heartland. We have a neighbor in Arizona who watches Fox News, boasts about voting for Trump--and carries a 45 "with one bullet in the chamber and 15 armor piercing bullets in the clip". What the 'ell does a 75 year old man living in a $500,000 house need with that kind of weaponry. But I'm pretty sure he has lots of company. He is impervious to reason--he has his beliefs.
David (Pacific Northwest)
Trump is beyond unqualified to be the President of the US.
But why is he the Republican candidate, and why does he have any traction whatsoever with anyone?
Because people are so sick and tired of self-serving, lying, corporate-owned politicians, that's why!
(No matter what talking-head pundits who are supposed to know so much, Tom, say about the matter).
David Donaldson (Albuquerque, NM)
I'm sharing this thread with the men and women who actually process these comments and deem them "acceptable" for publication. Didn't I just read that you have to cull through thousands of individual messages and responses. And, yes, I did take that little test that you provided about "Would you approve this?"
So my question is directed to you "screeners." How come: these same name appear over and over again? How come: you permit responses to others comments by names that even I have come to recognize as your "favorites.' Personally, I am getting tired of Mark Thomason responding to just about every comment, and how many times will you permit multiple responses by the same individuals. NO... I don't expect you to approve this comment, but I do urge you to factor in your new policy and cease this bickering back and forth between "regulars."
In multiple columns over the last several years, Thomas Friedman has insisted that "Average is Over." In other words, if you are an American citizen who is not above-average in some way, YOU are over. You, and likely your children as well, have no place in Friedman's much-hyped new economy. Implicit in those columns was an assumption that there would be no societal consequences when tens of millions of "average" Americans were left behind.

Trump's nomination should be seen as a warning: Ignore and dismiss the legitimate economic concerns of non-elite Americans at our collective peril. Make some attempt to address their real concerns, or prepare for social disruption on a scale much worse than the nomination of Donald Trump.
mayelum (Paris, France)
"Electing such a man would be insanity." Conclusion: there are millions of men and women who think Trump is sane. Might that be what Hillary meant when she called them "deplorable"? Just asking....
Clyde (Hartford, CT)
@Christine McMorrow. You ask how Trump could be so assured of his own brilliance that he'd do no debate prep. That's only a secondary reason. The main ones are 1) his attention span is so minimal that he can't focus for more than a couple of minutes on debate prep, and 2) if he can't get someone else to do something for him, he's too lazy and pampered to do it himself.
M. J. Shepley (Sacramento)
Should Ms Clinton win it is quite clear (with Trump on top the ticket, to boot) that she will be dealing with a GOP Hill. Where are Dems going to pick up Senate seats? WI, ok. &? Not FL, NC, OH or even PA. Probably not even NH. Maybe IL. And Dems lose NV. So come January 47 seats....

Nothing will happen on climate concerns. Or equal pay. Or much of a rise in minimum wage. The Supremes will stay split 8 until one dies. All only open to a change come 2020.

And after four failing years, and with the fact that no party since FDR has held the Presidency for more than 3, Clinton will be swamped in a wave.

(Reverse the coin, if he isn't bounced by his own party, Trump will be gone in a tsunami)

So, the one thing Hillary can do? Make war (call it love if you want). What MSM can find is her support for regime change from the 90s. Call it for "humanitarian" reasons, its still Kissinger realpolitik. That is actually on record, along with the vide, vedi, vinci take, "we came, we saw, and we killed" for Libya. And her statements that she will impose no fly and safe zones in Syria.

Mr Friedman knows that involves military aggression against a UN member, legally speaking. I would not bet Putin sits by.

As far as Trump, the only thing to support the moderator's bald statement "since it is on record you supported the Iraq war" is an off the cuff months before on a radio show. One can find doubt in time. Hillary didn't, but MSM does want that picture.
Etienne (France)
I wouldn't let Trump run a White Castle let alone the White House.
Pete T (NJ)
In the other column about Trump not releasing his tax returns, Mitch Romney was mentioned. Romney released his returns, and Trump said that this cost him the election (and that Romney was a loser).

I'm sure Romney would love to get back at Trump. What better way than to get on the band-wagon of those demanding that Trump release his tax returns.

And what better way to do that than to take a page out of Trump's book: offer $5 million to any charity of Trump's choosing when he releases his tax returns. Remember how Trump offered $5 million to Obama to release his college records? And made a big splash in the news, putting his name out there in the political arena. Why bother to hold office in any government capacity, to gain experience and a record of performance, when you can blast away on TV.

So, Romney should get a great measure of revenge if he were to turn Trump's
$5 million trump card back on him.
james jordan (Falls church, Va)

Bullseye! I am confident that more Republicans, who have experience and understand the role of the US as a force for good in the World, will announce their endorsement of Hillary Clinton. At this writing Senator John Warner, former Chairman of the Armed Forces Committee, has announced his support. I anticipate that other notables in the GOP like George Schultz will also announce.
Alexandra Brockton (Boca Raton, Florida)
Tom, please don't give Trump better answers for him to use in debates.
Phil M (New Jersey)
Just as Saddam Hussein taunted W into war, so will other unsavory countries taunt Trump into war and he will gladly appease them in a heartbeat. For a country such as ours that is tired of perpetual wars, to elect Trump would be to escalate wars creating more home grown terrorists. Don't his supporters get this? They just don't care and have given up on their country.
Randall Johnson (Seattle)
Trump’s claim that a racial discrimination suit was ‘brought against many real estate firms’ -- very misleading says fact checker

Trump a racist in Brooklyn real estate in '70s; racist in birther movement against Obama.
Joe (Delaware)
I think the fact that Trump is doing so well in the polls reflects how bad Hillary Clinton is as a candidate. This article is about how bad Trump is but we can have an equivalent article about how bad Hillary is as a person. She can recite all these facts and figures in a debate but when put in front of the FBI she says "I can't remember" 50 times. Her entire staff takes the 5th amendment. If she was a normal government employee she would have either been suspended or fired from her job. Trump is not the best debater but listen to him talk at rallys...he is much better there getting his points across. This is going to be a very tight result. Hey Lester Holt...where were the questions about 'email', "Benghazi" and the "Clinton Foundation"? Clinton won the debate but did she win peoples hearts?
blackmamba (IL)
Donald Trump is not the reigning political governing Master of Black Mass Incarceration nor Black Welfare Deformation nor Corporate Plutocrat Oligarch Welfare nor Military-Industrial Complex War Mongering. That inhumane inhuman deceitful arrogant hypocritical person would be Hillary Clinton.

Hillary "earned" her fame the old fashioned way by marrying a successful career politician. Hillary "earned" her fortune the new fashioned way by converting her elected and selected public "service" into a palace of privileged gold. Hillary bows down to the American politics and election meddling by espionage and money foreign thug Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Donald made his fame and fortune the old fashioned way by "wisely" picking a multimillionaire real estate baron German American father who relied on corporate plutocrat welfare and mass media entertainment to move into politics. Donald bows down to American election and politics meddling and spying foreign thug Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Neither Trump nor Clinton represent "the best angels of our nature" nor our hopeful positive humane humble values and interests. We ended up with this ugly POTUS choice by our action and inaction. We the American people can not blame a divine royal nor a natural armed tyrant for our dilemma.
JA (Middlebury, VT)
Many Trump supporters say that he doesn't have to know things, he just has to have "experts" to fill him in once he's in office. How will he know how to pick those experts? Short answer is: he won't. He'll be at the mercy of whoever gets his ear.
Abby (Tucson)
If we weren't paying attention, the Texas School Board insisted that Imperialism be reframed as Expansionism, so no wonder kidz don't learn we had Churchill over a barrel when we forced him to abandon Empire if the US was gonna save his bacon during WWII. The Atlantic Charter. No more reparation demands damaging nations whose leadership proved to be losers, either.

Trump stumps for reparations like stolen oil while we wonder how we've become so stupid about how awesome we are to the rest of the world for knowing you don't recover from stupidity with more stupidity. He's all for changing us into Imperialdickheads like his hero Putin.
Arthur Lipkin (Cambridge, MA)
"How Could We?" Good question, Mr. Friedman. For some further insight I suggest the review in your newspaper today of a new biography of Adolph Hitler. Facile analogies to the rise of Nazism are common and repellent, but this election demands such comparisons. In fact, the placement of the review today seems propitious to me.
thcatt (Bergen County, NJ)
I truly hate thinking in this way but, it seems like those who thought it was a cool idea to take a risk on a George W. Bush, unqualified and inexperienced as he was, now that our nation and economy has stabilized from the horrific results of the W. 'experiment,' that maybe this time we should even double-down on yet another someone sitting at the same bar, having a beer, spouting out some cool rhetoric about the nature of all things.

Think about it New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio!
Joanne Rumford (Port Huron, MI)
Taking chances is what Donald Trump has done with his buisnesses. I don't think we need that in a Presidency. But look at Congress now. Going against President Barack Obama as opposed to the American People? I just don't see how Republicans can take that chance.
Radx28 (New York)
Sanity doesn't seem to Trump the smokescreen of hate, fear, greed, jealousy, and bigotry that drives Republican politics.

The candidate simply speaks for the party that's taken the typical sharp right turn that drives the thinning ranks of self serving, sore losers to resort to one form of totalitarianism or another. It's all about the quest and contest to reduce the 'fittest survivor' to a field of the ONE perfect human who will make things right (wing, that is).

Civilization works better when its about ALL of the humans, not just the perfect ONE.
paddy1998 (Joliet, Illinois)
How could we? Look in the mirror. The New York Times has made virtually identical claims about Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney; they're all racist, sexist, homophobic, and ready to do favors for their rich buddies We just don't believe you anymore.

NATO was formed to check the Soviet threat to war-weakened western Europe. The purpose of NATO was long ago fulfilled; it continues simply by inertia, an arcane mutual defense organization that, in the absence of an external threat, will create one to perpetuate itself. But it's unreasonable for a presidential candidate to question its efficacy? Please. We just don't believe you anymore

Your sneering denunciation of Trump's minimizing the amount of tax he pays prompts me to ask: exactly how much more in taxes do you pay that you don't owe? Have you structured your financial situation to maximize the amount of tax you pay? We just don't believe you anymore

Last time I looked 90 million Americans left the workforce; we just don't count them as unemployed anymore. Nonetheless, you and the NYT continue to beat the drum about how unemployment is going down and the economy is getting stronger. But simply repeating nonsense over and over again does not make it true. We here in fly-over country can see it with our own eyes; we just don't believe you anymore.
Tsultrim (Colorado)
HRC's proposals are more progressive than you give her credit for. AND, unlike many politicians--we don't even need to mention her opponent--she listens. She will adjust her position if convinced there is a better way.

Your article is preaching to the choir, or perhaps, is aimed at readers who haven't really kept up with the details. You need to go over to the Drudge Report and do some convincing there.
Paul King (USA)
When a fire fighter shows up to save you from a burning house, don't get too worked up about every detail of her past.

For the moment accept that you will not die and go from there.

Trump is the growing flames around you.
Do what you can to stay alive.

Afterwards, with calm reflection and a clear head we can make sure the underlying causes of the fire are scrutinized and mitigated. We can do better. And we shall.

Our first task is to survive.
You better take it seriously.
An independent in (Texas)
The presidency of the United States is not an entry-level job.
Alan Burnham (Newport, ME)
Trump supporters say " We don't need no education! " That's how!
Otto (Rust Belt)
Here's what you don't get- The folks who support Trump think he wan the debate, hands down. Logic is not their strong suit. Emotion is.
ev (colorado)
I'm not sure if I'm going to make it through this election. She's up, she's down, she's kicking butt, she's collapsing by the limo. The truth is anything can happen in the next two debates. Sure he's a big spoiled baby that doesn't do his homework. It doesn't mean anything to the 40-plus percent who support him. They want a tough guy who will push back hard against a nuanced, fast-changing world. And she is the perfect representation of that world. Hillary, watch out. He'll be completely unleashed next time.
Aaron (Ladera Ranch, CA)
The answer to the "how" question is 30 years of partisan, gridlock congressional politics and their complete apathy toward the average American. Special interest money has blurred party lines to an undisguisable mess and for whatever reason people don't like Hillary. Enter Trump...
P (US)
Hi NYT editing staff, a quick note not for publication. The statement below is not phrased very well. It implies either that no European country has nukes which is blatantly false (France and the UK have them), or that if it were not for NATO every European country would have them, which is patently ridiculous (Luxembourg???).

"and prevents every European country — particularly Germany — from getting their own nukes to counterbalance Russia, by sheltering them all under America’s nuclear umbrella."
Vesuviano (Los Angeles, CA)
"Electing such a man would be insanity."

Agreed. Now watch us do it.
Kristina Gorzynski (Saudi Arabia)
As usual, Thomas Friedman is right on. But, the photo accompanying the article seems incongruous.
Tom Christiano (Chelmsford, MA)
Outstanding Column. I hope every American Voter reads this column. It's that important. Thank you Mr. Friedman, for writing it.
Nothing that Trump says is really new.
We have a long history of xenophobia, racism, sexism, etc. Even trickle-down voodoo economics is not new.

How then ?

Santayana has the answer!

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Rose (St. Louis)
It is a shocking fact that about 35 to 45% of the American people support Donald Trump, and no matter how ignorant and crass he is, they are unwavering in that support.

After this election, the GOP autopsy report will read "Suicide."
J. T. Stasiak (Hanford, CA)
Mr. Freidman:

When Gerald Ford, Edwin Muskie, and George Romney misspoke on major policy points during debates or while campaigning, people noticed and a major political price was paid. The same thing occurred when G.H.W. Bush looked at his watch and when Al Gore sighed. I suspect that Gary Johnson lost half of his votes because of his unfamiliarity with Aleppo. Why then in spite of his obvious shallowness, repugnant style and lack of experience as well as hostility from the Republican Establishment do we still have Donald Trump? Have voters suddenly become ultra stupid? I think not. Many Americans have suffered greatly because of globalization, technology, the decline of organized labor and the overwhelming political power of monied interests. If you are in doubt, ask your colleague David Brooks who actually made a serious effort to understand this. Unfortunately, Hilary Clinton and the Democratic Establishment have not. The surest way to defeat Trump would be to sincerely acknowledge the legitimate grievances of his supporters and propose plausible remedies. Instead we got "irredeemables," "deplorables" and that tone deaf op-Ed piece in the Times. The Democratic and Republican Parties abandoned the working class in favor of elites and big money. Their votes were taken for granted. This worked for awhile, but no longer. The "Deplorables" have risen up. Without an alternative, they are voting . Everything else is commentary. That's "How could we?"
Don (Virginia)
The Clinton's are nothing but D.C. mafia. That's how Trump is going to get into office. They hypocrisy of this whole thing is amazing and folks are sick of it. Sick of it to the point where they are willing to put Trump into the White House to prove a point. He wasn't my choice during the primaries, that's for sure, but I would rather see this crass, brutish man be the President, than that lying, phony, criminal who is only where she is because she was married to the President at one time. She has nothing to run on and relies solely on the media to keep her propped up. She has done nothing ever, for anyone except herself, and everyone knows it.
Aaron (Cambridge, Ma)
I like this short quote from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

"You have frightened me several times tonight, but never in the way that servants of the Enemy would, or so I imagine. I think one of his spies would - well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand.’"

Hillary Clinton looks fair but feels foul, and is likely foul, and that is her problem, and why she is our problem, and someone that we must not elect as the president of the United States.
Harvey Bennett (South Berwick Maine)
How, Mr. Friedman? Ask the corporate-owned newsrooms who have seemed to have neglected to inform the public that much of Washington gridlock is due to Republican lock-step intransigence; who failed to inform the public that diatribes against the Affordable Care Act were not fact-based; that insisted on repeatedly writing articles that accused the Clinton Foundation of shady practices. Then ask yourself how the electorate thinks drastic change like a President Trump will save them from their government.
William O. Beeman (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Trump is fortunate to have a zombie Kellyanne Conway to shill for him. She is talented in a weird way. She is able to spout the most insane nonsense to explain his even more insane pronouncements with a robotic straight face. Sadly Trump's low-information supporters can't discriminate fact from fiction. Truth=Fox News. Trump lies and Kellyanne repeats the lie with a convoluted lie of her own.

So if Trump wins, is this how the nation will be governed? Lies on lies? A cover-up specialist-in-chief like Conway? Clearly Trump needs a "minder" at all times.

That doesn't sound much like a president.
Bruce (Pippin)
You are absolutely right but when you are talking about the "we" which we are you talking to, the one that understands that Trump would be very bad for the country or the we who understands Trump would be very bad for the country and that is exactly what they want? Trump is what he is and it is obvious he is a dangerous and destructive force. The people that support Trump have a suicidal death wish and they want the government to be destroyed. They don't care what his plans are just blow the whole thing up, they have their guns, their religion, their TV's and they will survive. Trump is their perfect agent for change with out a plan. Never underestimate the ignorance of the American people and Trump has tapped into a gold mine of stupidity.
How could we elect a president in just 41 days who advocates using American forces to plunder an allied country of its most vital resources? Trump keeps talking about the major mistake in a war that he initially supported in Iraq that U.S. forces under Bush "didn't take the oil."

Trump would turn our armed forces into pirates as evidenced by these outrageous comments about Iraqi oil.
Dennis (New York City)
I'm loving all the Trump supporters who say that The Donald was too easy on Hillary, too kind. That's not the Donald they know.

Next time, they want Trump to go all out, go for the jugular. Yeah, that ought to do it. Get even more incoherently vicious then Monday night. You go, Donny.

thomas paine (flyover country)
The talking heads such as yourself have created this moment. The country, morally, financially, spiritually bankrupt . Can we afford more years of the same old, same old?
Gary Warner (Los Angeles, CA)
Stand on your head and the country looks better from the bottom up? Mr. Trump and Mr. Friedman just seem to be on different rides in Fantasyland.
Malcolm Beifong (NYC)
1. Not a shopping mall, NATO, but I like The Donald’s line that we need someone in charge here who understands Money. The United States does not have a bottomless pit of it, and NATO members should pay their “fair share,” if I may borrow a term.

2. I guess he was vague re the cyberattacks—does the bed weigh 400 lbs?

3. See, re his taxes, you don’t understand Money, Thomas. A businessman has a fiduciary obligation to make sound business decisions on behalf of his stakeholders. He may donate to charity for the public good, but overpayment of taxes is not the way to go. If he played by the rules and payed zero, thats good, not bad.

4. You really should review the Howard Stern interview, since that appears to be the only thing anyone has dredged up to be able to say The Donald supported the Iraq War before the invasion. There is less there than his detractors like to make out. But it is undeniable that he was an early, and public, critic of the war.

Look, Thomas, this is tiresome. Write a column next time where you speak ONLY about Hillary’s accomplishments as a public officeholder. It will be much much shorter.
george j (Treasure Coast, Florida)
Love Pravda, eerr, I mean the NYT. Mr. Friedman, the day when America cared about the views and opinions of the "mainstream" media are long gone as the recent polls have established. Most of mainstream media are mere cheerleaders for the Democratic Party. Let's all see what happens in November.
Why? Because were so damned angry with what you and this president have done to the country we so deeply love.

That's why.

We'll take the imperfect man, who is so very much like us – imperfect, flawed – but who loves his country as much as we do, which means he loves it enough to make an incredibly hard sacrifice and leave his easy life as a billionaire enough to drag his kids and grandkids through all this hate.

A man who has NOTHING to gain financially or power-wise over his previous life, but who has GIVEN up that unimaginably good life for the sole purpose of bringing prosperity and respect back to our deeply shamed and humiliated, weak country under the madman Obama.

You don't think it's that bad? Everything's just fine because the pressing Transgender Bathroom issue is now resolved (whew!)

Well, We DO think it's that bad, and no, you can label us "Deplorable" all day long but not a one of us will ever change our vote, after all these smears.

Padfoot (Portland, OR)
How could we Tom? Because the vast majority of people who will vote for Trump are not going to read your column or anything else in this newspaper or most other newspapers. They already know the answers, which Trump has provided.
Sha (Redwood City, CA)
How do some smart and educated people consider staying home or voting for a third party candidate and risk making this disaster the president of the United States because they don't like Hillary Clinton?
Jack (Boston)
Thomas, would you pay a tax you did not owe? And what of the European countries who are freeloading by not paying their fair share to keep NATO running? Those countries take those millions in savings and give their citizens cradle to grave care. This does not seem to bother anybody. And what of the trade deals like NAFTA and TPP that are good for stockholders, but drain our country of jobs? Agreements that allow protectionism in Europe, China, Korea, and Japan, while our markets remain wide open? Policies that allow China and India to ignore intellectual property law?
Miriam (Long Island)
Great piece, Mr. Friedman; I share both your outrage and your incredulity.
esp (Illinois)
Friedman: In relation to Miss Hillary: "She'll do her homework."
Oh yes, she will do her homework and do her homework and do her homework. The wonky wonk will never be able to make a decision because she will be too busy "doing her homework.
It is apparent that she cannot just give an answer. She goes all over the board. Just please tell us what you plan to do and then do it. We don't need hour long dissertations on what you plan to do. It indicates you are never quite ready to make a decision
bluecyan (USA)
Thank you for saying it as it is: "Trump and Conway are con artists".
Greg (Chicago, Il)
How Tom? Simple, you helped elect the weakest Democratic nominee in our lifetime.
JAB (Bayport.NY)
Was Trump blaming his friend Governor Christie for the cyber attacks against the USA? This is more serious than the bridge gate scandal.
Ed (Washington, Dc)
Thanks Tom,

What's scary is that current polls show Trump and Clinton in a tie (but maybe after Monday's debate, Hillary will increase her lead).

How half of the US can be supporting Trump and his non-stop lies and racist beliefs is beyond belief. Does half of the US really think Trump is qualified for the presidency, and a better choice than Clinton? How can that many people be so's absolutely stunning....
Stefano (Rome)
Thomas, great article! I am so scared of a global mess, also because - as italian unfortunately "based on experience" not so past, i could have some sad and indicative answers to your many "How Can we put someone "odd" in the WH?"
and this aso because i am not so enamoured of the Democrat candidate too.
tks fo sharing!
BobSmith (FL)
I agree with the majority of this editorial....except for the comment at the very end which is completely delusional...."might even work well with Republicans, as she did as a senator." There is no way any possible conceivable scenario ....that a Republican Congress....especially if they have a majority.... is going to work well with Clinton. There is way too much bad blood ....get real Friedman. They will block, stall, and smother every piece of significant legislation she proposes. Every potential nominee will have to through the eye of the smallest needle before they are approved ... particularly Supreme Court nominees. In the meanwhile expect major long term investigations every time Hillary makes a false step or looks the wrong way. The Republican establishment has written off 2016 they are preparing for 2020. In the meantime they are going to do everything in their power to dis-credit and hinder Clinton's agenda.
Donald trump is crazy as a loon- with apologies to loons everywhere.

But the fact that he has so many followers tells me that one number one problem facing this country is mental illness.
rob (98275)
Trump started out near even with Hillary as long as his peeved look while
she spoke could be ignored.The moment the debate began to turn sour for Trump revealed a key way each would be different from the other as President.
This was when Trump ,as Hillary cheerfully pointed out,criticized her for having prepared for the debate as well,in her words,to be President.Trump on the other hand seemed proud that he hadn't done prep,hadn't done the mock debates that Hillary had done,which is how each would be different Presidents.I suspect Trump thinks holding this office ,if he wins it,will mainly involve him continuing to do speeches to his adoring " fans ." Hillary knows that most of the job and it's hard work of governing occurs out of the public eye.It is in this very crucial way that Hillary is much better prepared and suited for the office than Trump is unlikely to ever be.This is a significant reason why ,although she wasn't my 1st choice ,I'm sane enough that I'll vote for her.
This is also why Trump is unlikely to be any better prepared for the next 2 debates;his unwillingness to be away from the adoring crowds long enough to really prepare.Because that peeved look Monday night was that of his impatience to be finished with this interruption in his campaigning.
Alexandra (NYC)
Bravo. Well said. Every single line - truth shining through. Bravissimo and thank you!
Agent GG (Austin, TX)
The answer to your question, how could we? is simple. There is no we. There is only us and them. They want to literally destroy the governing structure of this country, so are loving everything Trump is doing to scare the pants of the nation. They are oblivious to the damage they are doing, because such damage is their full intent, as they are damaged themselves. It is analogous to the hardcore settlers in Israel.
Jay Orchard (Miami Beach, Florida)
How could we? Very simple. Democracy allows people who are ignorant, misinformed, intellectually challenged, emotionally disturbed, desperate, selfish or gullible to vote for whomever they wish and allows candidates to cater to such people. Sometimes the result is a Trump running for President. If you don't like it blame democracy.
Ignatz Farquad (New York, NY)
Who cares if she works with Republicans? She should be launching an institutional attack on the party of thieves, liars, bigots, racists, homophobes, xenophobes, and misogynists, the party who gave us Donald Trump, who, far from an aberration, is the quintessence of the Republican so-called party, a seditious, traitorous cabal of criminals who should be charged under the RICO act, and tried, convicted and thrown in jail where they belong. Obama's big mistake was trying to work with the Republican Criminal Organization instead of opposing it, if Hillary makes the same mistake (which I think she won't, which is why Republicans are so afraid of her) they will, as they did with Obama, try to destroy our nation so they can pick up the pieces. These vile traitors should be on the ash heap of history, not running a government they profess to hate.
David H. (Westchester, NY)
Trump voters have a simple answer to the question of how we could elect a guy like Trump: You go in the booth and flick the lever. Done.

They are not understanding the risks or imagining any significant downside for themselves, their families or America as a whole. The working class base doesn't think "Hey, a President Trump could make a series of very bad decisions that would put us into a major recession, start a couple of major wars for no rational reason and put my family's future in the dumpster." They just think, how could things get any worse than they are?

Meanwhile, the well-to-do Trump voters acknowledge the risks but figure that they are impervious to any damage Trump might do. So, on balance, they will come out ahead based on all the breaks they will get.

None of these people, I'm fairly certain, have lived through the nightmarish world our parents or grandparents did during the Depression or know what it's like to really be at war, the kind of war that demands tremendous sacrifice from virtually every citizen.

When you don't understand the stakes, it's easy to make a Trump POTUS.
J. Holoway (Boston)
Funny how Mr. Trump is so concerned about whether NATO countries pay their fair share when he, himself, is so proud of not paying his share of federal taxes to his country. On top of that, his clothing line is made abroad and not in the United States. I guess his followers don't see that as a problem. As usual, Republicans putting party before country.
Reno Domenico (Ukraine)
True that!
mford (ATL)
As for Hillary's "stale, liberal, centralized view of politics," I'd really like to know who out there in the political realm meets your standard. Who is fresh, decentralized, and non-liberal? What human would you choose with your magic wand for president (other than Tom Friedman)?
BCP (Maryland)
I have relatives who love this guy, but they are mostly old white males. They read anything disparaging about Democrats on the internet and believe it. Likewise, anything disparaging about Republicans are met with bluster and ignorance. Let's grow up fellows. If you like Trump's actions so much, makes me wonder how you treat your wife, your black co-workers, etc. The world has changed.
How could we? It's worth rememberimg 'we' didn't ver this guy, the Republican Party's Paul,Ryan, Mitch McConnell, et al. Accepted Donald Trump into the Republican party as candidate for POTUS. We all should thank them for this lapse.

One day it seems likely someone's going to call Mr. Trump 'Lyin' Lil Donald' -- because it's going to turn out he doesn't have a $billion, believes and acts on the old sayimg that 'charity begins at home', is leveraged to foreign countries beyond any ability to pay, shelters assets via the Panama Papers, and doesn't pay any taxes!
EASabo (NYC)
"I am not enamored of Clinton’s stale, liberal, centralized view of politics, but she is sane and responsible; she’ll do her homework, can grow in the job, and might even work well with Republicans, as she did as a senator."

Respectfully, especially given the title of this piece, now is not the time for caveats or condescension.
Don Carder (Portland Oregon)
I can vote, donate, and volunteer, and I have, but subjecting myself to 90 minutes of Donald Trump won't change a thing. So I wasn't going to watch the debate. But my 12 year old daughter asked if we could watch, so we did. About half way through or less tuned out and went back to reading Harry Potter. After it was over, I asked what she thought. She said she liked Hillary Clinton, and that's who I should vote for, but she thought Trump was better at getting his point across. I wonder how many voters tuned out after 45 minutes?
Lori (Locust, NJ)
I recently read 'Hillbilly Elegy' by J.D. Vance and also Arlie Hochschild's 'Strangers In Their Own Land'. In a country of 'haves and have nots', government is the scapegoat for the 'have nots'.

Both authors stated the same sentiment quite clearly; why is it that people who need government assistance hate government the most? Because it's everyone else's fault.

There's your Trump supporter.
Kovács Attila (Budapest)
The whole mess from Iraq through Pakistan Libya and Yemen to Syria. How could you?

He's one thing going for him. There is two truths: it's high time for the US to disengage from the conflicts it created in the M-E, and in Eastern Europe.

It is also high time to stop pauperising Western societies by free trade. Isn't that the truth, Mr. Friedman?
Ron (Chicago)
I agree with Tony from NY, Trump, Clinton, how could we? Read the article on Johnson in today's NYT, there is a third option.
JDASCN (New York)
Kudos to Thomas Friedman for calling out Kellyanne Conway for her many lies and half truths following in the footsteps of her boss, Donald J Trump - two peas in a pod!
Keith Bee (Oklahoma)
He wants to run a protection racket on the rest of the world with the US military as his muscle. That's his economic plan - run the world like a mid-80's mob boss.
Cjmesq0 (Bronx, NY)
I'm looking forward to the day when Obama is forced to stand nearby while Justice Roberts administers the oath of office to Trump on January 20, 2017.

The look on his face will be worth the last 8 years of misery. He will know his "legacy" will be measured by the fact that he gave rise to Trump.
Dave Thomas (Utah)
Read Michiko Kakutani's Times' review of "Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939," by Volker Ullrich and have the nerve ends of your 2016 political thinking banged dull. It was Hitler's showmanship, his ability to read crowds, that allowed him to rise to power. Ullrich shows how Hitler was "normalized" and it was regular white working class Germans who made him seem normal. I'm frightened. The same sort of normalization is occurring in America with Trump. If you don't think it can happen here!
Betsy Herring (Edmond, OK)
What we saw the other evening was the Student Council President against the school dummy. She dispatched him before he knew what hit him so now he comes back the next day and takes out his anger on any woman in sight. This guy is replaying the roll of Bobby Riggs vs Billie Jean and the whole country is doing the male vs female arguments. I don't know what these prognosticators don't bring up that fact. Men who comment are quiet vitriolic against Hillary hiding their sexism in their vile comments. Woman Power Baby!!!!!
Jan Guiliano (Sacramento CA)
Amen, well stated!
He's a puppet. When he has to act on his own, think for himself, and attempt to verbalize HIS thoughts, the true disaster that he is reveals itself.

If he were to win, who would actually be running the country? Who would be the puppet master(s)?

BTW - By mentioning the crude insult that he was going to fling at Hillary, he said it. No restraint there. This is his game. Tell it like it is. He insulted the Clintons, crudely on national TV.

Clark Landrum (Near the swamp.)
This article describes an ignorant, moral degenerate. The Republican plan to instill hatred toward our government has worked very well.
Thor Klamet (Vermont)
Every time I read about this, I end up with the same thought. Republicans removed facts and reality from politics and Democrats didn't call them on it. The second Obama-Romney debate was a perfect example of this ever-present meme. The big question, the question that really mattered, the question that everyone attended to was whether Obama used the word "terrorist" when he was supposed to.

Obama won the exchange and now he's president. Goody gumdrops. And so we got used to the low level of discourse. Now we have Trump.

You want to know how? That's how.
cecee (sd)
Clinton is the reason. Corruption, failure and endless lies, and incompetence, ineptitude are currently out of vogue.
Judge Sturdy (St. Louis)
How indeed did we end up with a choice between two of most despised and corrupt politicians in the U.S. this election year?
Army164 (Suffolk, VA)
hopeE (Stamford, CT)
I think there are two potential classes of voters who will vote for Trump. There are those who support his ideas (such as they are) and those who will vote for him as "anything/anyone but."
grannychi (Grand Rapids, MI)
And how do we give lifelong retirement pay, protection, health care and other benefits, paid for by the poor and middle classes, to someone who brags about not having contributed his share?
Deborah (Ithaca ny)
There's just one extra line I fantasicize Hillary might have delivered: "Donald, you've shown no curiosity about the job for which you're applying. I don't believe you'd ever hire a person like you."
Fred (NYC)
How can any viewer of the debate think this snorting, unfit, ill-prepared bully be President? Hillary more than held her own against this very dangerous man. Trump destroyed his competition in the primaries but he was no match for Hillary. She should call him out for promoting his hotel during the debate.
mitchell (lake placid, ny)
Let's take TWO deep breaths here. Just because Trump
goes off on tangents does not make US foreign policy
for 2001-16 well-centered or even common-sensical.

Friedman is very good on the verbiage used to justify
poor decisions, and Trump's choice of rhetoric or verbiage
is unnecessarily off-point, yet the issues Trump has raised
are ones all the think-tanks and neocons have gotten dead
wrong for decades.

Wrapping ourselves in nostalgia about Bretton Woods or Yalta
is not necessarily sound policy for 2016-56. Let's admit we need to
clear out some cobwebs.

Isn't rethinking how NATO works something that is long,
long overdue, at least 26 years? Isn't the issue of "who pays" at
all relevant? A bevy geniuses, led by Jean Monnet, managed to
create a ticking time bomb in the structure of what is now the EU
-- ignoring issues of sovereignty in order to achieve consensus.
Wasn't that formula for prosperity built on German handouts?
NATO too may need some repair and renovation.

Trump may be an oddball, but it is surprising to hear Tom Friedman dispense with the need for change, and doing so with such a broad brush. Maybe he, too, is just another member of the elite striking out at anything that messes with his idea of a comfortable status quo. Not quite the Friedman of Lebanon days. As Trump might say, that is sad.
Steven (Nyc)
Mrs. Clinton is a proven failure. Her vote on the Iraq war, her decision to intervene in Libya, the Syrian problem and the general disintegration of the middle-east prove to me that she is totally inept. Add to that her quasi-criminal behavior regarding the e-mails and the corrupt Clinton foundation and one can see why people are voting for Trump. I am not kidding myself. She is very terrible but I am going to vote for her.
AH (Oklahoma)
I don't think Mr. Friedman appreciates the exciting new change Trump and his supporters represent. Preparation, study, experience - all overrated and passe. An example: I was told by my old German mechanic I need the brakes on my car fixed. I was going to have him do the work, but after listening to Mr. Trump, I realize he's gonna do the same old things and charge me an arm and a leg. Time for a change. Instead I'm getting the kid who mows my lawn to do it. He's a hard worker, smart, has a great sense of humor and my daughter thinks he's attractive. The fact he doesn't know a brake pad from a garden hose is irrelevant: he's got ideas and his heart's in the right place. And speaking of hearts, my ticker's been acting up. I was gonna go to my cardiologist, but now I know better. If anyone knows a good, conservative plumber, give me a call.
Patricia (CT)
I'm afraid the country is going to elect Trump. Clinton won't be the first woman, who, although immensely competent, will lose out to a white male who is just as immensely incompetent.
Because the alternative is someone who has spent 35 years enriching herself by selling access to public office-a capital offense for a politician in my book. She is no different than Dean Skelos or Shelly Silver.
TDurk (Rochester NY)

Because millions of Americans subscribe to the republican political and economic platforms that have proven beyond argument to be disastrous for the American people and the country at large.


Because millions of Americans believe the propaganda dished out by the Goebbels style talking heads of Fox News ..., well, can't call it reporting, let's call it stories.


Because the propaganda is comforting to those same millions of Americans who no longer believe in our country, our institutions and quite frankly in themselves to continue building upon the foundations put in place by those who came before.


Republicans feel sorry for themselves that their foreign, domestic and economic platforms are bankrupt of logic and morality and choose to degrade the country so that everybody else feels just as cheated as them.

That's how.
jdl51 (Fort Lauderdale)
It's not so much that he wasn't prepared, he just doesn't have the mental skill set to ever be prepared. His supporters were hoping he could "act" presidential for 90 minutes. The term of office is four years and you have to do more than just act. It takes actual knowledge of facts and history, and the consequences of your actions, all abilities he lacks. And I won't even get into his psychological impairments that disqualifies him for the job of president.
Chris Jones (Santa Fe)
Why are so many people reluctant to elect a president who might do nothing more than give us another 8 years of growth?

And gee, I thought most Republicans liked hawks. They would certainly get one with Hillary.
m d will (ny)
Well, it was indeed quite a spectacle of a old school type guy trying to 'Fonzee' his way through at the political top. Trashing the US and claiming that only he can fix it? Is rich and unbelievable except by who...
The post WWII world order is still delicate. The international system still a work in progress. But.. More people have been lifted of poverty and moved toward modernity than any point in recorded history. We are almost there.
It takes real skill education and experience to get it right. As a leader and as followers. What is fascinating is the echoes of the 'silent majority' 'law and order' us against them type rhetoric that Nixon used woo much of the same crowd. One he was in office he rewarded them by opening the door to trade with China taking 'half the blue collar jobs'. Reagan Bush took 'another half' of that when he opened up with the old Soviets...
Too many did not keep up with the TAA type training for the new jobs 'of trade'or make a real stand for 'profit sharing.' Which, Sen. Clinton has most astutely pointed out as a dynamic path for workers going forward. Back then. Some got played on social type issues over economics.
The the good question Mr. Friedman Is asking is asking. Will it happen again?
Sofedup (San Francisco, CA)
So many forget how the gop attacked anyone who dared question the bush administration about the validity of going to war. First it's well-known they all lied and any opposition was met with accusations of not supporting our precious military and were accused of treason! Let us never forget the lies put forth by bush, Cheney, Powell, rice et al and none of them not one single person has been brought to justice. Shame!
MJ (Denver)
Scary thought: what if Trump DID prepare for the debate, and what we saw was the result of that preparation?
David (Cincinnati)
Electing Donald Trump may be insanity, but a surprising amount of people think it is a good idea. If enough vote, President Trump is what we will have.
Peter N. (Tokyo)
So well said, Mr Friedman. Like you, I have serious issues w Hillary. I think she is dishonest, evasive, greedy and precious. However, she shone in that debate: prepared, poised, completely Presidential. She was even physically beautiful; lovely smile, magnificent hairstyle. Trump appeared loud, angry and almost breathtakingly discourteous. Ugly. It reminded me of a Star Trek episode, where a monstrous ogre, the Gorgan, feeds off of the fears and angers of children to maintain his supernatural power and aura. When he is unmasked and the kids are soothed by Captain Kirk, he becomes physically deformed and horrible. That's EXACTLY what the unmasked Trump looked like: red faced, ugly, strident. And hearing him say how "smart" he was to avoid paying taxes should immediately disqualify him from serious consideration. Tone deaf and a bum to boot! Who does he think finances this country? Not smart Donald: That would be "The little people" to quote another despicable, disgraced real estate mogul, Leona H.
MVT2216 (Houston)
Donald Trump made such a bad impression Monday that I doubt the American people will give him a 'second chance' as they would, for example, if a sitting President did poorly in a debate (like Reagan in 1984; Bush in 2004; Obama in 2012). Not only was he unprepared (bad enough) but his positions on trade, NATO, and U.S. military pacts around the world were nonsense. For all practical purposes, this election is over. As Julius Caeser said in 49 BC when crossing the Rubicon river in Italy "The die is cast".
Paul (Palo Alto)
Correct. The Trump Apocalypse is the fruit of decades of end-of-the-world rhetoric among evangelicals and far-right wingers. These are people who have become convinced that because their retrograde values are under attack, that the end of the world is nigh. Trump stands ready for their apotheosis. So, yes, indeed, Trump would be the end of the line. Sell your house and dump the shares before the market collapses, and move to China, Switzerland, Israel, Spain, Norway - anywhere really - anywhere there is still some trace of reason in the public debate.
Edward Blau (Wisconsin)
Why does no one say the lack of economic growth is the responsibility of the Republicans who were in the majority of both houses of Congress for ten years and blocked every attempt that Obama made to stimolate the economy?
Their game plan was simple. Drag the economy down and it will be easier to have a Reublican POTUS in 2016.
THat is why they scream like stuck pigs at the Fed for being the only adult in the room.
fdc (USA)
First you create a news organization devoted to "fair and balanced news" and deliver a wholly partisan right wing news perspective while labeling all competitors as "mainstream" and "liberal". Then you further develop fear based programming to support an us against them narrative for your viewers equating facts with feelings. Finally, the stage is set for an obstructionist movement in Congress to paralyze our government because the electorate is split. Now enter the most prevaricating, rude and ignorant presidential candidate since George Wallace. When half the country receives entertainment they believe is actual hard news, we get Trump polling even with Hillary Clinton. The Civil War"s aftermath continues in our politics, policing and our media. I agree our problem is deeper than the one candidate's behavior and that it may take a generation, or more, to undue the forces that continue to divide America at its core.
judgeroybean (ohio)
Mr. Friedman, Trump's policies have not one thing to do with his supporter's belief in him. They don't care about family values, religious freedom, jobs, security, defense or infrastructure. They don't care about his falsehoods. Mr. Trump's supporters view him as the Great White Hope. His popularity is directly proportional to the hate they have for the black usurper, President Obama. No Obama presidency, no racist backlash that produced Trump. Simple.
Al (Davis)
How could we? Please don't pretend that this is just now happening. Trump is the creation of Murdoch media and reality entertainment TV. Fox News has been spoon feeding the public a steady diet of lies, hate, and denial of reality for well over two decades. How can it be that one of two dominant parties of the worlds only superpower continues to deny climate science and evolution? Answer this question and you'll have solved the Trump conundrum.
flak catcher (Where? Not high enough!)
One prayer and an important question.
1. Trump will (or should I say "better"?) lose.
2. What will the Republican Party have learned?
Harlod Dichmon (Florida)
Yes, electing Trump would be insanity. But with 11% of the American people believing Hillary is honest and trustworthy - better get used to the idea of a mad man in the Oval Office.
Bob (North Bend, WA)
All quite correct. Now explain how we as a nation not only elected GW Bush, but also prosecuted his quixotic Wars on Terror and Iraq. Trillions wasted, millions of civilians killed, a Mideast in chaos, no WMDs, no role in 9/11. Does that not all seem quite insane, to lash out like that at a country that had nothing to do with 9/11? Now remind me, what was Hillary's "sane" stance on that massive group insanity? And by the way, Mr Friedman, what was your stance? If going to war with Iraq represents sanity, we live in an upside down world.
Marian (New York, NY)
“Trump is so obsessed with proving his infallibility that he missed scoring an easy debate point for himself by saying, 'Yes, I supported the Iraq war as a citizen, but Hillary voted for it as a senator when she had access to the intelligence and her job was to make the right judgment.'”—Thomas Friedman

Trump's point was one better: He didn't have the intelligence, but he had the intelligence (to oppose the war).

Or as the late great Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once put it, “Intelligence is not to be confused with intelligence."
Ross (Oakland, CA)
The Donald is so convinced of his own wonderfulness that he not only couldn't be bothered to prepare for the debate, he can't even cop to a case of the sniffles.

Can you imagine his indignation the first time he was questioned on a matter of national policy?
RC (Tuscaloosa, AL)
I would add that Trump's odd views on Russia are dangerous. He has spoken approvingly of the Russian takeover in Crimea, will not condemn Russian bombing in Syria, and has warned that we may not honor treaties to support allies in the Baltic at the very time that Baltic nations feel especially threatened by the Russians. By sending these signals Trump encourages Russian expansionism, which of course we would finally have to oppose. Like those Americans who supported Mussolini as a "strong man" he is making wars more likely.
Mark T (New York, NY)
Sadly, Trump will win. He is our Brexit. There is such dislike and distrust for Clinton that folks are willing to burn the whole thing down and elect a disaster like Trump. I'd say we deserve it and need to live through a four year Trump presidency to learn the error of our ways (much like New Jersey with Christie), but the stakes are just too high and the damage is potentially incalculable.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
It will not be enough to simply get rid of him.
History tells me that Trump’s backers and supporters are not going anywhere, that their tribe will increase even after he is gone and that the best way of dealing with them is by keeping a close watch on their activities and opposing them with ferocity.
James Kennedy (Port Ludlow, Wa)
Trump's capture of the Republican nomination can be traced to Nixon's Southern Strategy, which led to Dixiecrat domination of the party.

I agree that NATO continues to be a valuable alliance, but Friedman's phrase regarding nuclear proliferation, "especially Germany", was unnecessary and insulting.
William Boulet (Western Canada)
Yes, electing such a man would be insanity. But the country has been insane before, and it may very well be this time too.
Gerard (PA)
I am worried by the proliferation of Trump signs. I think they are dangerous. Every local con-man is now compiling an address list of the gullible.
Barney (New York, NY)
How could we? Simple, people are tired of the establishment that runs Washington. That sentiment gave rise to Trump and Bernie Sanders. The funny thing is that in the year of the anti establishment voter, we're going to get the the queen of the establishment as our next president.
HJS (Charlotte, NC)
We might consider blaming this mess on Mitch McConnell who decided on day 1 of Obama's presidency to make sure he failed. That's when birtherism really began.

Hillary was right when she said half of Trump's supporters are deplorable. That basket includes every Republican congressperson who hopped on the McConnell bus.

The question for me is why does the other half not see the harm their party has done to our country, and why do they keep voting for them?
Wayne (Lake Conroe, Tx)
We need to soundly reject this clown whose insensitive ignorance is only exceeded by his incredible arrogance. He cares only about himself and has done nothing significant for others. He was born on third base and thinks he hits home runs. We need to send him back to his self-indulgent pursuits and let serious people address the problems of society.
TC (Boston)
Tom Friedman is weary and defeatist, Trump is the apocalypse. In these times, and compared to these two, Hillary is an idealist. She still believes in America, its institutions, traditions, and aspirations. Her life demonstrates those classic American traits, grit and optimism. She leans to bipartisanship, and has the practical bent to achieve progress. She has a deep understanding of the the world, America's role in it, and the need to balance our beliefs with realpolitik. Hillary has been around a while, but her ideals are not stale.
Richard B (Washington, D.C.)
I think if Trump set out to prove that the impossible is possible he has succeeded.
Reality will never be the same.
late4dinner (santa cruz ca)
Hey, Mitch McConnell? Paul Ryan? How are your days going, fellas? Good I hope! I just want to thank you for supporting Trump. I don't think the Republican leadership could have done anything else that shows so clearly what your party truly stands for. Great job! And Reince Priebus? That boy is a keeper!
SpyvsSpy (Den Haag, Netherlands)
If we marginalize a large enough segment of the population, for a long enough period of time, there's no telling who they might vote for. In this case, we got Trump. Is it really a surprise?
whatever (nh)
This para captures my own sentiments perfectly: "I am not enamored of Clinton’s stale, liberal, centralized view of politics, but she is sane and responsible; she’ll do her homework, can grow in the job, and might even work well with Republicans, as she did as a senator."

If someone can't see this, (s)he fully deserves the free fall from the cliff that the buffoon Trump will lead us to. Many of us will survive fine. But I feel terrible for those who won't.
souriad (NJ)
Your arguments are very left brained: logical, cohesive, fact based. Unfortunately, to the average Trump supporter, facts are something they do not value. Sorry, Tom, your eloquent fact-babble will not convince them to vote for the smart blonde lady. These voters want lodge their protest and they do not want to be lectured by some high-IQ ivy league professional yacker about personal responsibility, civics, the public good, and all that liberal PC stuff.
wolf201 (Prescott, Arizona)
I tend not to be an alarmist. But, if Trump becomes President, we will be thrown into a crisis. And it won't be just in the U.S. There is no way that man should be given the keys to the White House. He is crass, uninformed and a serial liar. For heavens sake, this old lady knows more about the economy and foreign policy than he does. And that is scary.
Sarah (Bethesda)
Thank you for calling out Conway in this "Con." She could actually be worse than Trump. Her attempts to "interpret" what Trump says are so insulting to the American people. She is running this campaign on the motto of "our voters are too dumb to notice that we don't make any sense." I really hate to say this about the first woman to lead a presidential campaign, but I hope her performance ensures she never works at this level again.
Drew (San Jose, Costa Rica)
You might also add: How do we put in office a so-called Law and Order man who advocates disarming credentialed and authorized law enforcement officers in possession of registered firearms so that his opponent will be subject to the fury of his followers. And all the while, keeping his Secret Service team tightly around him, to protect him from his followers.
Marc (VT)
Do you think that Mr. Trump was implying that his 10 year old son, who is great, incredible, unbelievably brilliant with computers, pulled the DNC hack?
mford (ATL)
If you don't like Clinton's supposedly "stale, liberal, centralized" approach, and you don't like Trump or (presumably) the GOP approach, I'm just curious: who do you like? What human politician represents a fresh, non-liberal, de-centralized political perspective? Is there such a thing? I don't understand this line. Is there a single political leader in the world that meets the Friedman standard?
oh2253 (cleveland)
Mr. Trump's view is correct that NATO countries should pay their dues .

If a NATO country's dues are not affordable, said country should apply for a reduction, but most NATO countries are prosperous enough to pay their dues.

The reason that this is important is that dues payment represent commitment by the member countries, and it is time for NATO to find and develop its new mission.
Waste, Fraud &amp; Debuts (Tulsa)
Did I hear Donald say he made something like $600 million last year? If he did it was because he estimated the value of his brand went up $700 million. Fortunately for him, hot air is not taxable.

When you hear him say that he has been under audit 15 straight years, doesn't it occur to folks that maybe there's a valid reason? The tax returns of a guy slick enough to have income flow directly to a charitable foundation and then funnel the proceeds out for personal uses might very well be susceptible to audit. Maybe that old counterpuncher Hillary is saving this one to use in a later debate.
JKberg (CA)
Donald Trump is deplorable, the Republican Party that supports him willy-nilly as their candidate is deplorable, as are the Republican politicians who support him willy-nilly, but most deplorable are those citizens who would vote him into the presidency. These folks are the nihilists who want a narcissist in the White House in order that this country might become as deranged as they.
Ninbus (New York City)
Kellyanne Conway's grasp of reality is little better than her master's.

When asked recently about Donald Trump's LIE concerning Lester Holt's political affiliation, she replied that it wasn't a LIE because, at the time, Trump believed it.

Her strategy is a post-Orwellian, hall-of-mirrors combination of lying, twisting and obfuscation.

I literally have to change the channel when I see her on TV. She makes me retch.
Mike (Arizona)
Tom, you live in the New York liberal bubble. You have no idea of the anger and frustration of Trump's deplorables. You represent all that is wrong with this country: elitism, liberalism, inability to relate to us in flyover land.
Jim A. (Tallahassee)
I haven't much cared for Freidman since he supported the Iraq invasion, suggesting we could create a "beacon of liberty in the Middle East". But he's right this time. I can understand blue collar dissatisfaction with the nation's direction but I am dismayed to see how so many voters can't see through this charlatan.
Wendy Fleet (Mountain View CA)
1002 hours.

1002 hours to doom or to the humane race having a decent chance to get more decent.

Together, feather by feather, we will mend, defend, and tend our Better Angels.
AM (New Hampshire)
Hillary Clinton is a perfect candidate: for Republicans. She is hawkish, oriented toward business interests, conservative, steady, and an extremely competent politician. If she were running against a Democrat, I'd vote for the Democrat.

But, unfortunately, she's not running against a Democrat. She's running against a person with a serious personality disorder, no experience, knowledge, or judgment, who is hateful and buffoonish, who lies irrepressibly and, worst of all, someone devoid of any character.

Supporting - even tolerating - Trump when one knows better displays a terrifying lack of responsibility and gravitas. We see this in many Republican leaders, including McConnell, Ryan, McCain, Graham, Ayotte, Hatch, and Sessions. We also see it in people who have literally come unhinged, like Guiliani, Pence, Conway, and Christie.
David K. Peers (Woodstock, Ontario)
In all your frothing about Trump you neglected to do your homework. Both France and the U.K. have nuclear weapons.
Dale In New York (New York, NY)
Mr. Friedman. Are you coaching Donald Trump for the next two debates? If so, nice job teeing up all the clear and concise and coherent things he should have said, and NOW has an easy roadmap to STILL say next time. And the time after that. Did you know while we're on the subject, that there are two additional debates? Before November 8? Your column sounds a bit like "he doth protest too much," rather than "I could've had a V8."
William Trainor (Rock Hall,MD)
So, you're not enamored of Clinton's "stale, liberal, central oriented politics". In the last several years we have had Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barak Obama. The alternates were G. HW Bush, Bob Dole, Al Gore, John Kerry, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. None of these guys are transformational. Though in rough times we look for that special someone who will inspire, we generally get politicians who understand the way politics work and soldier on. We don't get a "leader" who changes things dramatically, and that is how our system works and flourishes. Russia gets Putin, Iran got the Ayatollah, Iraq had Hussein, Germany got Hitler, Russia got Stalin. If we get a dramatic change in our current world we won't necessarily do well. Again, Baseball analogies work. You don't win the pennant by winning every game; you win the pennant by having a steady approach that amplifies your talent.
So why criticize Hillary Clinton's best gift to the table. She will bring boring steady competent leadership which is what we need at this time in history.
Obama may have been the inspirational leader we hoped to find, but he was thwarted by 1) not being a good "politician" (indicating that as much as we disparage politicians there is an art to it) and 2) he was a pariah to the Republicans who shunned his brilliance for political gain? or racial animus.
Paul Muller-Reed (Mass.)
There are also those who just want to shake things up in DC. Which is incredibly self centered. If Trump is elected, people will die. Whether from his failed concept of economics, crazed view of international adversaries or constant encouragement of white fanatics with guns.
JOK (Fairbanks, AK)
I'm at the point where I would rather risk a Trump presidency than allow that toxic vortex of mendacity, malfeasance, duplicity, and corruption that is Hillary Clinton, anywhere near the seat of power of our republic. The rigged Democratic primary should be an obvious clue to the voters that this is what you get with Clinton.
Conservative Democrat (WV)
What this economist should be asking is "how did we underestimate the devastating effects of NAFTA on the manufacturing middle class in this country?" Take a drive through the Ohio River valley and he will get an answer to his questions.

Yesterday, Mexican officials announced Cisco would invest $4 billion there and create jobs. How did it come to this, Mr. Friedman?
tdwarner (Washington DC)
"Electing such a man would be insanity." Then call me insane. I've already been called deplorable.
The Poet McTeagle (California)
The country elected Bush in 2004 after it was clear his war of choice in Iraq and the nation building in Afghanistan were disasters. It seemed to right itself by choosing Obama in '08 and '12, but we could choose the wrong path again at any time. Trump illustrates that democracies, even our own, are fragile things.
Thomas (Tustin, CA)
Trump was so emotional, so shallow. Decent citizens unite.
Give the Democrats a chance by also voting down Republicans in
every State, County and berg, come November.
Jon Creamer (Groton)
What the majority of Trump's supporters don't seem to understand is that the economic policies he has in mind will lead to their being thrown under the bus should he actually be elected.
Tim H (Flourtown PA)
"The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter" Winston Churchill. That pretty much sums it up.
malka abrams (NY)
Hilary is the "Energizing Bunny" with a plastic smile and hand wave..... but not much substance.
The women is in public office for more then 30 years. What will she do now that she could not do as 1st Lady, Senator, Secretary of State? Or should we say, the bad decisions she made during her tenure, prove the case.
There are no original ideas coming from her corner, the way she looks at the world - with the help of T. Friedman - is over. Europe today is not the same as when NATO was established. The Arab world - and where has the "Arab Spring" gone? is not the same, and we have to re-look our alliances and demands from them fair share.
I did not see Clinton nor Obama going to Chicago to save the situation. And before we look at Trump Tax returns - lets look who the Clinton's owes by checking into "The Clinton Foundation".
The Donald - well at least it will not be boring, he will keep other guessing and hopefully he will be surrounded with good advice - I am hopeful, it can only get better.
itsmildeyes (Philadelphia)
When someone such as Thomas Friedman is moved to say 'say what?' you know there is something seriously wrong with the idea of electing Donald Trump president of the United States. Personally, I blame the Republican Party for decades of systematically undermining our government and the labor force using the consolidation of the mass media as its propaganda mechanism. These monopolistic communication concerns control the zeitgeist. I can honestly say I've never seen Mr. Trump's programs because I don't own a television. But I do know any number of people who watch so-called 'reality' programming and find the idea of public humiliation and beratement fascinating. The viewer can vicariously live the life they wish they could, with no self-censorship and no consequences - a kind of guilty pleasure. (Paging Dr. Freud.) The difficulty arises when the viewer is unable to distinguish between a fantasy and real ‘reality.’

Ask yourselves, all you 'job-creator' admirers, who moved the factories and corporations overseas? Who historically is the party of big business? Who historically despises labor unions? There you have your answer.

Mr. Trump may be an aberration even to the Republican Party; however, they do not hesitate to make use of him to further their ends. Even if he should lose the election (and may it be so), the damage done by this 'you-lie' 'baby-body-parts' 'green-eggs-and-ham' ‘birther’ conservative political coven is incalculable. There's your 'disaster.'
Early Man (Connecticut)
If you answered the question you posed, it would be helpful. We got here by being robbed of our houses and IRAs. We got here because you fed our kids WWE. No, we didn't pick him. But you sideswiped us with no fear of repercussions. And you fed us a too big to fail Clinton. Watch what happens now. Who is going to come out for her? 5 times fewer. That's who. And that's how.
GRH (New England)
How do we put in the Oval Office someone who voted in favor of the Iraq War? Someone who has embraced the endorsements of the neo-con liars who brought us the Iraq War and its $3-6 trillion price tag (not to mention the future terrorists)? How do we put in the Oval Office someone responsible for breaking Libya, aggravating ISIS expansion & the refugee flood to our allies in Europe? At least Trump disavowed the endorsement of psycho-racist David Duke but Clinton does not even to pretend to disavow psycho neo-con liars Paul Wolfowitz, Bob Kagan, Max Boot, etc. If you want an intervention-first, regime-changing chicken-hawk in the Oval Office, Hillary Clinton is your candidate. Might be good for "defense" stocks also, add some more Lockheed and Northrop-Grumman to the portfolio. . .
Beth Graybill (Denver)
Almost half of the country is experiencing a mass delusion. Only explanation I can think of.
Michael (Boston)
You can argue that you pay too much taxes, and most people do. You cannot argue that you should not pay any taxes when you live in a country that provides you with its services. We say this about the working poor, why would donald, a made who is YOOOGELY wealthy, think he deserves to get away with theft?

The truth is, that what little we know about his business dealings proves that his entire fortune is resting on the principal of getting away with theft. He is not just rhetorically a conman. He is an honest to god, straight-up, no-fooling conman, and anyone who would vote for him has failed some kind of basic gullibility test.

If you hate Hillary, don't vote, but that is no reason for voting for an actual de facto, if not de jure criminal.
Mike Marks (Orleans)
People really do want an end to Politics as Usual and some former Obama voters will be voting for Trump for just that reason. He represents change and if he's a disaster that will lead to more change. Change is what they want and if Trump is the agent, so be it. They fail to see that some of the things he might do could cause severe damage for generations.

The Beatles confronted this issue when it came from the left two generations ago:
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out

Don't you know it's gonna be alright
Alright, alright

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're all doing what we can

But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait

I really do hope it's gonna be alright.
Kingfish52 (Collbran, CO)
How could we?

By allowing policies that squeezed the wealth out of the middle and working class for decades - through Republicans and Democrats alike - and fostering rabid partisanship and stalemate in the government. By having our MSM controlled by a handful of mega-rich people who have a vested interest in maintaining all of this as it keeps them and their wealthy peers in control.

There was a sane alternative. His name was Bernie Sanders. But you and your brethren wouldn't allow it. You made your choices: the Queen of the Status Quo, and the King of Media Circus. But you neglected to remember the adage: "Be careful what you wish just might get it". Well Tom, you and your pundit friends "got it". Unfortunately, the rest of us got it too.
christoph buerki (zurich, switzerland)
as an outsider i am wondering what is wrong with the u.s? how can it be that a candidate like donald trump has a chance of becoming president of the united states? 45%-50% of the population will vote for him. But what will happen with those fears once the election is over? The hate, fears and anger will not vanish.
HRW (Boston, MA)
We got Trump because the Republican Party appeals to the undereducated and greedy. The Republican Party is the party of guns, tax cuts and white Christianity. Republicans for a long time have stood for very little in trying to help this country move forward. Trump wants to make this country great again, then he should pay his fair share in taxes and stop cheating his vendors. Enough with the bluster.
jacobi (Nevada)
How could we even consider placing Hillary in the White House. We have seen exactly what a failure she is, largely responsible for the mess and misery in Syria and Libya. She values her own secrecy over the national interest. She has no vision, and would be just an extension of the current administration.
Mr. Friedman, how about also writing a piece about how many jobs have been created in the US by our trading partners, such as Japan, who opened major modern auto manufacturing plants when our US auto companies were facing bankruptcy and ruin Or, about how Trump and the Republicans in Congress complain about our crumbling infrastructure but have blocked every major infrastructure spending bill that would have repaired our roads, bridges and airports by giving billions of dollars of tax breaks to the top 1% (like Trump) or claiming a fictitious debt crisis, skyrocketing inflation and/or attaching a "defund" Planned Parent rider to every bill. It's time to put pen to paper...Give Hillary some more talking points!
Spike (Florence OR)
The real problem is the millions and millions of voters who cannot see how perfectly incompetent and asinine Trump is. American life has become as goofy as a television reality show. We're gonna get what we deserve.
rainydaygirl (Central Point, Oregon)
How could we? Great question. That might be something to query Trump's followers as they stream out of his rallies. Bonus points if you can get them to explain how not paying taxes helps revitalize those inner city neighborhoods, crumbling roads and bridges.
Alan R Brock (Richmond VA)
Trump inhabits his own alternate reality in the same fashion that people who derive their worldview from Fox "News", right-wing talk radio and right-wing internet sources do.

That is how this has happened. Reactionary, right-wing media, not constrained by facts, has enabled the rise of Trump. The first amendment is fundamental to American existence, but we need to be more aware of the downside associated with it.
JimEDiego (Merida, Yucatan, Mexico)
Mr. Friedman is on target with is assessment of Trump's various insufficiencies to be POTUS. And most of the readers of the NYT will probably agree with him.
But Trump's supporters will not read his column. They will not read the Times or be influenced by the logical dissection of Trump's long established pattern of lies, smears, insults, and ignorance. Trump's supporters evidently read the Enquirer (which Trump says is a reputable newspaper), and consume copiously from the utterly unreal world of "reality" TV where their champion fired his way to fame and more fortune. They are untouched, or worse, unfazed by the clear truths about their candidate. This election is divisive in a frightening way. We have a very large, very angry demographic, willing to risk the republic for an opportunity to vent their rage against any and everything.
jrd (NY)
Thomas Friedman has been insulated against the consequences of his errors and misjudgments for so long, he can't conceive of a population fed up with the voices of official authority, including Hillary Clinton and Thomas Friedman.

If you want to account for the horror of Trump, perhaps the best place to look is the behavior of the American business and political classes?
George McKinney (Pace, FL)
Mr. Friedman clarifies that America is an insane nation.
Electing a totally unqualified man with limited government experience as president is insane.
Yet we Americans did exactly that in 2008.
susan (manhattan)
No matter how many editorials or opinions are written against Trump, none of them will ever convince his base. His base is the equivalent of a petulant child who doesn't like what it is hearing from its parent and proceeds to plug its ears and whine.
kayakman (Maine)
Not a successful business man but a con man who inherited his father's fortune and still managed to get himself into multiple bankruptcies , lawsuits and stiff his workers and taxpayers. He is a real phony who must this country cannot trust to be in the seat of the most powerful person in the world and is scary.
maak (Minnesota)
When things are going well people tend to lose focus on the value of steady and competent leadership. Trump and Republicans consistently spout that 'everything is terrible'. In fact things are better than they have been for a long time. The logic is that if they get Trump elected, the next thing they will say is "see, look, we turned things around fast." This is third grade playground logic.

In 1998 things were going so well in Minnesota that they decided 'what the hell, what could go wrong?' with electing Jesse Ventura as governor. His term was marked with one escapade after another. Governor rappels from ceiling of arena in a feather boa to ref. an All Star Wresting match, Governor says his dream is to come back in his next life as a triple D bra. Ultimately we learned the whole governor thing was to pad his retirement and juice up his name recognition.

Trump is no more serious than Ventura was. After all how bright is it for a hotel mogul to tell the world 'we don't want you!'
Barrbara (Los Angeles)
Does no one see a conflict of interest when Trump uses his free TV time to plug his hotel? A conflict of interest to cut taxes for the wealthy while he is being audited. No one asked about his foundation and using it to piggy bank his business. A man who knows how to work the system - no "reporter" has asked about his boast that all landlords refused to rent to minorities in the 60's, the thrice married man who wants to talk about Bill Clinton! And the list goes on - a soap opera not a Presidential debate. Hillary Clinton and the braggart!
RjW (Great Lakes)
My reaction is also how. How is it no one is commenting on his probable use of cocaine as a stimulant. Snorting and sniffing along with a stiff jaw are classic signs not to mention that he ran out of gas after a half hour or so as it wore of and that his family greeted him as if he disobeyed their admonishments against using it!
Karen (Chicago)
Trump's attempt at humor at the expense of women and minorities and people with disabilities is NOT the kind of leadership i want in the next POTUS. In fact, i require my 3 children to sit and watch Trump's debates and speeches so i can use them as teachable moments of what NOT to do; to lie, to cheat, to brag, to blame others (the microphone? PLEASE) Trump had an opportunity last night to demonstrate to the country and world the type of leader and person he really is, and his zebra stripes didn't change, but in fact glowed in the dark. He's NOT a leader, he's a bully.
Glen (Texas)
Would we elect as president someone who has been on the public dole for what may be decades? If you don't pay any income tax and have $10 billion, you got that way by nuzzling up to one government teat or another, or several.
Paul Schwartz (NY)
Here's a thought:

Let's suppose Trump hadn't won the nomination, and hadn't alienated all the other candidates. Now let's suppose Jeb Bush won the general election. Name one post Trump would be qualified to fill in Bush's cabinet. Tough call, right? He has no expertise in any aspect of government.

If he's not sufficiently qualified to be in the cabinet, how could he possibly be qualified to be president?
Babel (new Jersey)
The more Trump talks the more he reveals his shocking ignorance on almost every major issue this country faces. You've produced a shockingly long list which is added to every day. It was on full view on debate night and most assuredly will increase when the second and third debates take place. You've barely touched on the unrealistic solutions put forward by the Donald. Or the steady stream of lies and distortions he gleefully throws out at rallies which continue to grow in size and enthusiasm. The question is no longer HOW but WHO are the people who put the winds in his sails. Watch the faces on the crowds behind him at these events. There is a kind of mindless void in the eyes of these people hanging on every word of their demagogic hero. It is a face the Republican Party, Fox News, and hate radio, have assiduously created over the decades. These people could be our future. Orwell and Kafka could not have concocted a scarier plot line for a once great democracy.
Rick P (Seattle)
The question isn't "how do we . . ." It's "how could we??"
Jim (Santa Clara, CA)
And here's my own HOWs: How do we get the millions of stupefied and conned Trump supporters to go beyond their idol's diatribes and actually READ what is said daily about him in every major publication? Not a day goes by without his lies and fabrications being exposed. HOW can all these blinded lemmings be lead to look at the buffoon behind the Republican "candidate", the crook behind the "businessman", and the deeply unstable ignoramus who threatens and lashes out at the moderator AND the microphone (LOL) only hours after losing miserably in yesterday's debate?
petey tonei (MA)
How? Because we elected a B movie star Ronald Reagan and then soon after elected George W Bush, not once but twice. Why are you surprised Tom Friedman, are you just waking up from Rip van Winkle slumber?
peggym2 (Queens, NY)
Amen!!! Insanity indeed!
lou beckerling (Western Australia)
enough of these self-evident and obvious criticisms already! trump continues to attract HUGE (his favourite word) support DESPITE the long and repetitious list of his perfectly obvious failures and shortcomings. what i want to read is 1) a thoughtful and honest analysis of WHY he continues to get the kind of support that could well still see him elected as president. and 2) following on from that, what are sane and sensible people doing to address and respond to the complaints - real and imagined - of the armies of disaffected voters who are not so stupid as to disregard his shortcomings, but plan to vote for him ANYWAY!
Ken (MT Vernon, NH)
Why should we not question our role in NATO?

Even NATO knows they have mostly outlived their own usefulness and are trying to pivot to focus on international terrorism as an excuse for keeping the funds flowing.

Obama and Hillary are in fact to blame for at least a good portion of the trillions of dollars we have flushed down the toilet in the Middle East and not spent on improving our own infrastructure.

Hillary's policy of arming rebels and opposing Assad in Syria are the reason refugees are fleeing Syria in the first place. Then she wants to fix the refugee problem by bringing them here. How about we just not create refugees in the first place?

Hillary will continue the war like posturing and international meddling, and that is as good a reason as any to not vote for her.
Kyle Samuels (Central Coast California)
I am still afraid. When we talk of Trump supporters, realize it is the same in all societies. Abe of Japan is part of a nationalist movement; although far more rational one. Brexit was started and pushed by British nationalist racist. In fact these movements are all over. I wish we could figure out why.
reality-based (North Dakota)
Um - --Um,---- Mr. Friedman? Allow me to point out that while I opposed the Iraq war as a private citizen, you, - as a NY TImes columnist with access to military and regional experts - were a hugely influential cheerleader for the war?

I'm just saying - you are in NO position to question Hilary Clinton's - or anyone's - judgement in re the Iraq war - even in the guise of "advising" Mr. Trump.
Michael Steinberg (Westchester, NY)
The trouble isn’t with Trump, it’s with those that think—no, feel—that he is the solution.

Too many “experts” get things wrong. Thinking, they feel, got us into Vietnam, made laws prohibiting segregation, allowed women to vote, came up with the idea of equal opportunity, is a threat to the NRA. They over think. Trump doesn’t waste time thinking—he has instincts.

Now that might be fine if the question was “Do you want fries with that?” or “Should my name be in letters 20 feet large or 30 feet large?” But what happens when a decision must be made on a topic where there is no experience for an instinct?

Global warming, he feels is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. So, until Mar a Lago has water in the basement—not to worry.

Revenge is Trump’s major response to humiliation. Likewise, those without the facts blindly choose Trump.

What could go wrong?
SKM (geneseo)
The increasing hysteria exhibited by the media elites at the prospect of an increasingly likely Trump presidency is more entertaining than anything I have ever witnessed.
HRM (Virginia)
Mr. Friedman should read the NYT to find out what Trump actually said about Russia hacking. What they reported and show a video of, is Trump saying that if they did hack, he hoped they released the thirty thousand plus emails of Clinton held back. Russia is the latest to be blamed but Iran and the Chinese have also held the crown of blame at one time or another. We do know that a couple teenagers hacked the email of the heads of the CIA and FBI. We also know the extensiveness of international spying including citizens and leaders of our allies, private companies like Petrobras and of course ourselves by the NSA.. What did we expect from others? The hacking has shown how ineffective our government's cyber security is. It is shameful There was even one report that said we hired a Russian firm to find out who did some of the hacking. As far as the NATO shopping mall, It not how much we pay for nuclear bombs but all the cost of the ground and air forces that we pay for that is uneven. What percentage of those cost does Western Europe pay that we should be looking at. The NYT has reported on much of this. The information is available for the asking by Mr. Friedman.
Jonathan (New York)
How did we let the Fourth Estate turn into shallow entertainment for the most part where the end of Brangelina is more important than the humanitarian crisis in Syria destabilizing governments and stoking anti-immigrant sentiment and terrorism everywhere?

How did we turn our most cherished civic right, voting, into cable fodder akin to a two year, non-stop version of Wrestlemania?

How do "news" channels allow pandering to the biases of each side, offering opinion rather than fact and providing false equivalence to the sociopathic outright lies of a third rate candidate?

How dare you guys let Donald off for not releasing tax returns, and not reporting robustly on his foundation outright breaking law until just recently while lambasting the sane candidate about Email's and Foundation work that have been investigated and reported on for years.


Donald's real improprieties would tarnish him so much that the cash cow would die and we wouldn't have a horse race. Trump is a money-making ratings bonanza the media used and gave lopsided airtime to in order to line its pockets at the expense of keeping the public informed.

So Tom Look in the mirror..... How could we? It's staring you in the face. This flat-earther/birther is your Frankenstein.

God help the "mainstream media" if he is ever elected. He'll be gunning for you for daring to criticism him while making money he didn't get a cut of -- and it'll be UUUUGGGGEEE, believe me. Somewhere Nixon is laughing...
T.L.Moran (Idaho)
And the GOP is the party that chose him.

Pay attention, people: Trump is the CHOSEN leader of a political party. If you vote GOP, you are part of the insanity, corruption, greed, opportunism and ignorance that all came together to elevate Trump. ...And Ryan, and McConnell, and so many more.

Trump is only the most visibly painful, festering symptom. Let's address the disease.
DbB (Sacramento, CA)
In criminal law, insanity is defined as the inability to tell right from wrong. Presumably, many Trump supporters have not lost that ability. Rather than being insane, they are (dare I say) deplorable.
HG (Califormia)
Let's not forget, if the current Republican Party continue to controls the congress, they will do everything they can to obstruct the Clinton presidency to govern.
John (New York)
Fully agree that electing Trumpolini would be insanity. And yet, there will be some 40% or so who will still support him. Are they insane too or just ignorant of the facts? The media should have done a much better job, early on, to expose Trump for what he is, a liar and fraud, full with crazy and dangerous ideas. He is a danger to our children and grandchildren. Agent of change as some claim? My foot. Agent of disastrous change alright. May we never hear from him again after November.
jrs (paris)
Not sure how anyone can be "undecided" at this point...
What could possibly be making someone unsure of which of these two candidates they would prefer to be the next president?
Clinton and Trump are so polar opposite that anyone who is undecided at this point must have doubts about their own character and values, either way.
Future Dust (South Carolina)
To paraphrase P. T. Barnum: "Nobody every lost an election by under estimating the intelligence of the American people." And along with con artists through out American history Trump would agree that "there is a sucker born every minute." So brace yourself, because ignorance is rampant and often winds up in powerful positions where it creates twisted offspring. May the gods of good luck and intelligent thinking save us from ourselves.
misterarthur (Detroit)
How? Because Trump is a walking clickbait canditate. Because the media wants a horse race. Because the media loves eyeballs and clicks. Trump provides them. Think of the advertising revenue media companies would rake in if he's actually elected. A scandal a day means money in the bank. Everyone knows the financial status of newspapers today. (Read: Bad). What better way to fix it?
The media, in its "need" to appear even-handed, has actually handed the election to Trump by not exposing him early and often.
William Wintheiser (Minnesota)
Personally I would rather not vote. But that is a luxury that this country cannot afford. I still believe that trump will be impeached early and we will be left with mike pence. So I will vote for the clintons. And I do mean the Bill and Hillary Clinton show. Bill Clinton is that 600 lb white gorilla in the room that nobody including mr Friedman wants to comment much on.
MAC1900 (MN)
How do we put in the Oval Office Donald Trump? Because the media chose to trumpet Hillary's "evil doing" in using a private email server instead of fact checking and laying bare Trump's lies throughout this entire campaign. That's how.
Strategerist (Atlanta)
How? It's simple. The trend of electing globalists like Obama, Clinton and Bush is an utter disaster for America. Trump is the only candidate since Reagam who gets it and who is willing and able to stand up for our country.
It's not any more complicated than that. People like Krugman, Friedman and others are very skilled at outsmarting their common sense. They have lost touch with what matters to most Americans.
Trump gets it. He's rough around the edges but the foundation is solid.
Oliver (NYC)
Trump supporters don't care about issues. They just want a strongman in the White House. They are driven to his flair, bombastic personally, and his penchant for political theater. They like that he is politically incorrect, which is actually a politically correct way to say inappropriate things anytime and anywhere.

So I don't know why everyone thinks Trump's supporters care about issues. They don't. They want to see him eviscerate Hillary Clinton on a personal level.

But swing voters should now have proof that Clinton wasn't using hyperbole when she said Trump would be dangerous if elected, as evidenced by suggesting the US extort our NATO allies if we are to be partners. He also thinks climate change is a hoax. This won't do.
Courtney Pearre (Nashville TN)
Someone once said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Since Clinton is promising a third Obama term, whose voters are insane?
Dee-man (SF/Bay Area)
I've thought about the "crazy uncle" analogy many times, especially during the debate. Trump talks without any care or awareness that the rest of the world is watching and listening. His narcissism would be the greatest national security risk if he ever got elected.
Realist (Suburban NJ)
When the freak are the democrats going to take on the fat cats who have pitched the middle class against each other while they laugh all the way to the bank. Make no mistake, they run wallstreet, medical complex, military complex, and corporations bigger than many countries. Changing all the rules will be an impossible task. The only solution is to tax them so some money can be returned back to the middle class. This is my brexit stand.
Nicolas Dupre (Quebec City)
The second Gulf War was a bipartisan disaster that left chaos in the region. This is unlike any previous war the US got involved in. Worst than Viet Nam. It has brought a negative atmosphere on US politics. Trump is benefiting from this just as demagogues do when the spirits of nations run low. The US will survive this because its institutions are strong, but let's hope no other great mistakes are made by the next bureaucrats in power, because populism will come back even stronger.

A Saunders fan from Canada...
peter bailey (ny)
Trump is simply a horrible person. What father would brag about his daughter saying that if she wasn't his daughter he would date her? Gross and disgusting. Giving such a man the power of the presidency would be completely reckless and dangerous. Having his family occupy the white house will make the Kardashians seems civilized. He is a compulsive liar whose only strategy is to keep the pedal to the medal by never stopping talking in order to drown out any same respectful person who actually thinks one should not interrupt someone.
Dan (California)
I voted for Obama in 2008, and was annoyed by some of the things Clinton said about him, but compared to Trump, I'm loving Hillary right now. If we think of her as an employee we are considering hiring for a very important job, we find that's she's experienced, level-headed, intelligent, and can communicate concepts clearly. I might not like the entire system under which she, as a politician, works (including how everything is driven by money), but she didn't create that system and can't be blamed for its existence. So, I feel OK voting for her. I won't agree with everything she does and says, but overall she'll do OK and be a steady hand. Can any of that be said of Trump?
Matthias (San Francisco)
This has been a long time coming. America, stop thinking running the country is a sports event of just 2 teams fighting it out!
Two teams that just tackle and obstruct each other (and clearly the Republicans are the worst), and that need endless amounts of money for that endless political warfare. How about a multi-party system that requires building coalitions and can absorb the crazies of all colors in their own groups? Germany has 5 parties in parliament and it works. Financing too is a much cheaper undertaking with - amazing but true - taxes and memberships paying in part for the campaigning.
Instead we watch a rigged debate, an event that was hijacked from the women's league of voters by the media, the Reps and Dems. So despite endless media and Internet coverage NOT ONE debate of all 4 contenders for the presidency. What a pathetic political and media landscape!
Tom Hughes (Bayonne, NJ)
Part of Donald Trump's intellectual shortcomings and inability to speak coherently for more than a sentence or two may be that he is a recent graduate of Trump University.
joel Eigen (Lancaster, Pa)
The no-taxes vote really resembles Leona Helmsley: "only the little people pay taxes." She was excoriated for this; he is admired by his followers. Did we really ever think we'd see a day when someone of his ilk could even be considered executive material?
Bad education. Starting with a very bad corporate model college education, one inch deep, forming the future teachers without sufficient knowledge about history and civics, without critical thinking, to pass it to students K to 12 (and I mean knowledge not self-serving ideological agenda, left or right). Result: a man who doesn't know anything, doesn't read anything, can't talk coherently, is probably going to become president. It is the elite's fault. Look in the mirror.
DMATH (East Hampton, NY)
Well known that Trump's core support is simply ignorant in any realm of policy, but the irony is that those Republicans who think any Republican is better for the economy are still falling for a failed theory: trickle down, or, their tag line, don't tax the job creators. Nick Hanauer has made the best explications of the fact that business (jobs) begins with somebody who has money and wants to buy something. Recent Republican and New Democratic policies have impoverished the buyers, which is why there are trillions of investment dollars parked on the sidelines with no demand to satisfy.
Joe Brown (New York)
There is no "we." I certainly don't see myself having much in common with most americans - especially the Donald.

It always is, always has been, always will be us against them. There is no "we."
artbco (NYC)
"Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.”

– Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist #1
KG (Australia)
Thinking about the debate, the thought that came to mind is - that making Trump President of the US would be as successful as making a five year
Dean of a university. Trump is woefully inadequate for the job - ignorant, arrogant, impulsive, unable to listen. And the great bully-boy has turned out to be a sissy, with his dry mouth and sniffly nose. What's he going to do in the next debate, when the pressure is on again, burst into tears?
You got him, Hillary.
Kara Ben Nemsi (On the Orient Express)
Germany becoming a nuclear power?

I can only assume that that statement stems from a complete ignorance of German reality and sentiments. The only other explanation is that the Trumpian hyperbole has now also infected the liberal opinionators.

In that case, God help us all!
Steve (Long Island)
Mr. Friedman questions will all be answered in the exit polls on election day when the majority of voters will agree that Mr.Trump is the candidate that cared most about their concerns. We know without a doubt that Mrs. Clinton cares most about herself. How else to explain her net worth of over 200 million dollars as a career politician.
concerned citizen (Ohio)
These are very reasonable points, but since when are we expecting reason from those who would vote for Trump? Anyone susceptible to logical reason and argument is long gone from his camp.

The "basket of deplorables" label may not have been politically correct, but that should be a-ok with Trump and his cronies, because, after all, aren't they against politically correctness?
David (Madison)
Donald Trump has blatantly appealed to racists, misogynists and xenophobes. They don't care if he is incompetent or destructive. He makes them feel good by appealing to their hatred.
NYer (New York)
The Trump phenomenon is emblematic of the isolation that the extremely wealthy and politically powerful have caused the everyday American who feels bewildered and powerless. Bernie Sanders found the precise same situation albeit on the other side of the aisle. While I agree with what you lament in Donald Trump and agree with what you hope (pray might be a better word) in Hillary Clinton, the weight of the American people's frustration and anger cannot be easily assuaged with sound bites and the same business as usual politics that those who are funding and running our major political parties are selling. There is a groundswell that has been building for many years, it is the power that Sanders and Trump understand and it is why fully half the population cannot believe that a Donald Trump is a hairsbreadth away from the Presidency. Hillary either taps into that groundswell on BOTH sides of the aisle or risks the unthinkable, for all of us.
LeslieK (Miami)
How? The answer is simple and illustrated clearly and prophetically in the 1979 movie "Being There", in which an imbecile rises to a position of power because people stop reading and thinking critically in favor of watching entertaining television.
A Goldstein (Portland)
Insanity is a hallmark of this election process. I don't know what is more shocking, Trump's statements, the Republicans who keep supporting him or the Republicans who will not disavow him as a legitimate candidate for president. Shameful and hateful behavior is disguising as "absence of political incorrectness."

This is a nightmare that, even when Clinton wins, she and this country will have to deal with the national animus stoked by Donald Trump.
Marc (Chappaqua,N,Y.)
Let's get this straight. If our country ever decided to steal the only valuable natural resource that Iraq has (oil); we don't have the military manpower to guard every well, pipeline, oilworker, trucker, and tanker that would be attacked every single day. The loss of life (American soldiers) would be catastrophic. The idea that stealing their oil wouldn't start a war, is almost as absurd as building a 1200 mile wall along our southern border.
Michael M (Munich, Germany)
Finally, a suitable comment. Apart from Italy and Berlusconi, no G8 country has ever seen a bigger moron, running for office. And compared to Trump, Berlusconi is a philantropic intellectual. Try to up, what that handful of votes which put W. Bush into office in 2000 has cost mankind and which effects it had in recent years, from the consequences of the invasion in Iraq to the financial crisis. Obama had to put up with this mess. And he had a hard time, trying to clean up some of it. And here comes this reality-TV clown, and half of America is cheering at his scurillousness. God beware!
mford (ATL)
It's easy enough to catalog Trump's many faults, far harder to understand his appeal to so many Americans. The desire for "change" is hardly a good reason. If a massive meteor struck earth tomorrow, it too would bring change. The only conclusion I can draw is that a lot of Americans just want to stick it to Washington, and to hell with the consequences.
gene (nj)
The world is a complicated place. Answers to problems are too difficult for most people to truly understand. Global warming is just one example of a problem too large and rather abstract and too distant for most people to want to deal with. Along comes a "savior", a man who says he has the answers, who claims he's going to make everything great again, all you need to do is to vote for him. The time is ripe for a Trump to rise. Sadly.
Infidel (ME)
Donald is indignant that other counties are not paying for our protection. The concept is revoltingly crass and ignorant. We act in our own interest. It would have been much easier, and cheaper, to have prevented Nazi Germany from taking Western Europe than it was to launch D-day to take it back.
John Brown (Idaho)
I don't think it would be insanity unless you think 40 % of the electorate
tends toward insanity.

People are tired, Mr. Friedman, of being lied to and deceived by Washington.
We were told we had to hand over $ 2,700,000,000.00 to Wall Street and
the Banks or the World would collapse down an Economic Black Hole.

All I know is of the hundred of thousands, if not millions of Americans who lost
their homes after Wall Street received its Billions of Tax Payers money.

Then Wall Street and the Banks made millions off of that loan and then told the
rest of us to shape up our finances or else...

African Americans have been told by the Democratic Party over and over again that their lives will be substantially changed if they just vote Democratic. Yet the poverty and the crime remain year in and year out.

Hillary does not care for the poor. How many of them were invited to her
Fundraisers this Summer in the Hamptons ? Instead of accepting the
$ 275,000.00 from Solomon Brothers why didn't she just donate to the
Custodians who clean up after Wall Street ?

Nothing is really going to change if Hillary is re-elected. The Progressive
Elites will pat themselves on the back saying: We took care of Bernie and
now we have taken care of Trump and those Undesirables who supported him.
Now back to making money !

Trump will most likely not win the election.
But ask yourself why so many supported Trump despite the absolute
distaste for him by Mr. Friedman and so many others.
John Heenehan (Madison NJ)
Forget the polls, focus groups and world stock markets that are supposed to predict the debate winner – and the next president.

Trump did suffer a humiliating loss Monday night. All the proof we needed was his behavior all day Tuesday, whining about his rigged mike, an unfair moderator, and that the fate of the free universe was jeopardy because a pageant beauty put on a few pounds, despite his basest effort.

We all saw Trump display the temperament to be a magnificently sore loser.
MisterM (Anywhere)
It's all summed up in the last line of Friedman's column. Once again, Albert Einstein was right: those who do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result are INSANE. If the horrific extremism, bigotry, and greed are allowed to flourish, we have only ourselves to blame. We are way past politics; this election is about human decency, human dignity, human respect and human compassion. All the republicans who deplore Trump but won't vote against him should be embarrassed; all the young protest voters who will cas the their votes for Johnson or Stein are pathetically uneducated, and live in a bubble of pure entitlement. Even the more conservative columnists have openly exposed this insanity. It's time for all decent Americans to do the same.
Art Weiss, Esq. (Tucson)
I am concerned about the similarities between Mr Trump and Kim Jong Un. Both are megalomaniacs, both inherited their exalted position, both could care less about their people, and both seek only self aggrandizement. Finally, both have all the answers but no clue about the questions. Elie Wiesel once said - and I heard this in person - the terrorists have no questions, they only have answers. Does that have Trump's name written all over it?
Paula (East Lansing, Michigan)
"How in the world do we put a man in the Oval Office who thinks NATO is a shopping mall where the tenants aren’t paying enough rent to the U.S. landlord?"

Remember the song they sang when we were little: "Any little boy can be president...of the United States"? I guess a lot of folks still believe that is true. And they think that since they themselves could be president, then it doesn't matter if a candidate is as ignorant of foreign policy principles, as clueless about economic theory and as hostile to the "other" as they are. If Joe Schmoe could be president with all his lack of knowledge and experience, then why not Trump?

Since any little boy (note--not any little girl) can be president, why do the press, the military and those who loathe Trump object to him--he's just "any little boy" grown up. He's them. He speaks their language, he's got flaws and warts just like they do, and he hasn't spent years learning the many ways in which the U.S. interacts with (while leading) the world--just like them. That's how we could elect a man so shallow and spectacularly unfit to lead the free world and guide us into this still-new century.

It's probably why Trump supporters are angry at those who dis Trump--we are dissing them, too. And they deserve it. Arrogantly proud of their ignorance, aggressively determined to impose their narrow and false ideas on the world, and unwilling to consider historical evidence of how a leader's philosophy or greed can affect the country.
Charles Powell (Vermont)
An easy target is easy to hit. Mr. Trump makes himself an easy target. Writers go for it, and readership targets are easily reached. It's aiming low in response to status quo. What I'd like to read is how to hit the target of vision, the target of sacrifice, the target of national identity.
Bernhard Nelson (Dusseldorf)
It was really interesting how Trump always try to defend Wladimir Putin. My neighbour has a simple theory about that:
Donald Trump is a real estate agent. He is also megalomaniac. What could be the greatest goal for a megalomaniac real estate agent? Right: selling the most prestigious and world-famous property in the world - The White House.
But that makes no sence whithout a buyer. So who could have a sharp interest to "buy" the White House?
Maybe the americans have to tell Donald that the White House is owned by 320 Million citizens of the USA and not for sale.
By the way, could anybody explain to me what a "hamburger helper of bluster" is? I try to translate it to german. But I have no idea what that means.
Don Shipp, (Homestead Florida)
In retrospect the single most frightening aspect of Monday's debate, as well as his campaign, is that Trump doesn't adequately prepare. He has conducted his entire campaign in an ad hoc, stream of consciousness, follow your "gut"manner. This careless, indolent, paradigm, replicated at the presidential and foreign policy level, would make him, without question, the most "clear and present danger" to the national security of the United States, of any candidate in the modern era.
Dave (Seattle)
Am I the only one wondering if Donald Trump is running for president so he can use executive power to advance his own business interests? That he might trade Europe's security for Putin's agreement to construct Trump hotels in Russia? He may not care one whit about making America great, just about making money.
George Jackson (Tucson)
I would say 25 percent of Trump's 45 percent are incredibly single minded pro life anti-abortion voters.

it is beyond ethical and moral astonishment that, if one takes the view that abortion takes an unborn life, why that is more important that 5x to 10x deaths of already living children and women. This is the intractable core for Trump.
Jonah (Los Gatos, CA.)
We could, based on the fact that there is a large edcuational divide in the country. A large segmant of the population does not care about facts or acuaracy because they lack the knowledge to make distinctions between fact and fantasy. This is dangerous becuase these folks can be manipulated with simplistic cartoons or slogans. Mr. Trumps daily comments were analyzed to be on the 4-5th grade level of communiication.
Nailadi (Connecticut)
Mr. Friedman,

Electoral outcomes have path dependency. There is a larger dismantling of political wisdom that we should be talking about than is being acknowledged. Trump did not simply happen. There was a road being paved for him especially after the misguided choice of Palin by McCain. US political IQ has been going steadily downhill since Ms. Palin came on the scene. GW Bush lowered the scales across the board but Palin took it to the basement. The lowering standards of political conversation, debate, finger pointing, and harsh innuendo among other things has contributed mightily to the rising of the Trump phenomenon. Trump is just an opportunistic and bigoted buffoon who wants to cash it in.
Theo D (Tucson, AZ)
Friedman is right about how awful Trump is. But he clearly has a limited, self-selected group of people in his social world. They are likely similar to him: urbane, educated, doing OK-to-pretty well. Tomorrow is likely to be marginally better than yesterday. If he were to take one of his cliché taxi rides and talk to people beneath his social strata, he would realize that the real political problem in America is not Trump, but his disturbingly large base of followers. For example, where exactly do they go when Trump crashes and burns?
Susan H (SC)
What the moderator should ask, or certainly Mrs. Clinton should bring up, is the question of poverty levels in different states. Why is there more poverty, racial strife and failing education in Red states than in Blue states? Why is it that in states that formerly had highly respected educational systems, like Kansas and Wisconsin, the quality offered is diminishing?
E Adler (Vermont)
Unfortunately, a lot of Amerricans don't see or care about the aspects of Trump's personality that are so ugly and dangereous, and instead see someone who talks their language, shares their fears and prejudices, and resentment of the well educated people who have been leaders in our society. Beliefs are more important to them than facts. They are not going to read what Tom Friedman writes.
WimR (Netherlands)
"I am not enamored of Clinton’s stale, liberal, centralized view of politics, but she is sane and responsible"

That is exactly what is doubted by many. A good illustration of a lack of sanity is Clinton's "we came, we saw, he died" reaction to Gaddafi's death.

Clinton is very good at showing a facade. She spent many hours of exercising for that debate to show the right facade. It is that facade that Friedman likes. But the question is what is behind that facade. The glimpses that we have had are not encouraging.

Trump, on the other hand, has a brash and sometimes a bit ignorant facade. But behind it we sometimes see the kind of common sense that so much is missing in Hillary and Washington.
Chris (Berlin)
Thomas Friedman, a leading cheerleader of neoliberal globalization, who loves to evangelize about how unregulated markets are just awesome, portraying neoliberalism as an inevitable and laudable march of progress, wonders how we got here.
This is the guy who, when massive protests erupted at the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle in late 1999, disgustedly derided the demonstrators as “a Noah’s ark of flat-earth advocates, protectionist trade unions and yuppies looking for their 1960’s fix.”
After the deflation of the dot-com bubble, Friedman opined that the boom only led to more advancement. “The dot-com bust,” he later wrote, “actually drove globalization into hypermode by forcing companies to outsource and offshore more and more functions in order to save on scarce capital."
His cheerleading for all things neoliberal, including 'liberal interventionism', led him to become one of the country’s most prominent liberal hawks in the wake of 9/11.

I got news for you, Mr.Friedman.
Neoliberalism does not make winners of everyone. Its global track record for producing GDP growth is dismal. In fact, its main accomplishment may be to produce inequality. Today the gap between the world’s rich and poor has widened to obscene proportions.
But you of course,with your vast wealth, married to a billionaire, hobnobbing with elitist global corporatists and living in a 11,400-sq. ft. mansion in Bethesday, wouldn't know about that.


How cute is that.
Joe From Boston (Massachusetts)
Trump said the hacker might be "somebody sitting on their bed THAT weighs 400 pounds."

Trump is not a grammarian. What he said is that the hacker could be a person (who could be skinny) who was sitting on a bed. The bed weighs 400 pounds. If he meant a fat guy, he should have said "a person WHO weighs 400 pounds sitting on a bed."

As usual, whne Trump speaks, nobody (including Trump himself) has any idea whether what he said is what he meant to say.

President? Negotiator? Nah, I do not think so. More like a LOSER.

Vote for Hillary. IT IS IMPORTANT.
JoJo (Boston)
I agree with Mr. Friedman’s assessment of Trump, and I think that if you are a responsible American voter, either liberal or conservative, and believe Donald Trump is dangerously unfit to be President, but at the same time you do not like Hillary, you must not merely abstain from voting or vote for a third party candidate who will not win. I’m afraid you must vote for Hillary even if you just consider her the lesser of two evils.

The reason why that is so, is because of our outmoded “binary” voting system which still dangerously allows “vote splitting” and “spoiler” effects. Some people have been arguing for years for an optional RATING voting system (where ALL candidates for an office, including from 3rd parties, would be each individually rated) which might mitigate this problem. Check the internet for “rating voting”, “range voting” or “rank voting” to learn more. (Note: I’m not referring to the electoral college system which is another issue).
mj (MI)
I am so tired of hearing how HRC was for the Iraq war. Guess what? She was one of the Senators FROM NEW YORK.

I remember the run up to the Iraq war. The country was out for blood and wouldn't be reasoned with. There was no question Iraq had nothing to do with it but MOST of Congress was in favor of it.

At least if you're going to crucify her, crucify her for something that makes sense. Her support of the Iraq war considering the times and her constituency just made her a good representative of the will of the people.

It is not her fault "the people" are stupid. And apparently grow more stupid by the day.
fritz (new york)
Read Michiko Kakutani's review today of HITLER by Volker Ulrich in the Arts section and you'll know how and why we have Trump.
Cindi (Long Island, NY)
An acquaintance of mine reminded me it's not enough to be with HER, it's now my duty these next 6 critical weeks to persuade others to NOT be with HIM. Particularly others in swing states. They don't even have to vote for HER, as long as they don't vote for anyone else. I plan on sharing this commentary with someone close to me in Florida who I can't believe is in HIS camp, just because he doesn't "trust" HER. I suggest those of you in HER camp do the same, and not via social media but with actual conversations. Thank you, Tom Friedman. I've been a loyal reader for years and I appreciate having these intelligent, informed words to help me do my part.
The guy (Cincinnati)
I won't bore you with the myriad of reasons that 1/2 of the electorate feels EXACTLY THE SAME WAY about Mrs. Clinton and the democratic policies that have been particularly hard on blue collar workers. But suffice it to say that the left's failure to recognize that fact may yet be your undoing. Your self righteousness is clouding your ability to see why many are losing faith in government as a whole and Mrs. Clinton in particular and it prevents you from coming up with meaningful solutions to real problems.
Harry Pearle (Rochester, NY)
I think part of the problem is that Trump appeals to our impulsiveness, our desire for instant results. Come November 8, we vote him in and like magic, he starts fixing things. Why not give him a try, as our change agent? What have we got to lose?

I suggest some repeated slogans might help to resist this. For example, Clinton might say, repeatedly:

Not so fast, Mr. Trump!
Not so fast, Mr. Trump!
Not so fast, Mr. Trump!
We've done many insane things, Tom. Donny in the White House will be one more crackpot accomplishment. At this rate, Donny T might well acquire the White House, still not impossible. For a cheeky peek behind closed doors at a gleefully insane night there under Donny T, playwright Dick Weber's no-holds-barred romp AW, DONNY! is spot-on unforgettable political satire (like Brecht meets the Marx Bros - check it out on Medium).
Beatrice ('Sconset)
" ...... could have been done by somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds" ?
I'm curious.
I can usually figure out the code words Donald Trump uses.
Is this code for something I've yet to figure out ?
JOK (Fairbanks, AK)
None of this matters. The people are sick and tired of the failed, mendacious, malfeasant, duplicitous status quo. We can see how thoroughly corrupted our IRS, EPA, DOI, DOJ, and FBI have become under the watch of the status quo politicians. Hillary Clinton is at the very nexus of it all. We want our own Brexit from this sewer of a government.

If you're a "right track" voter, you are probably voting for Clinton. If you are a "wrong track" voter, you're probably with Trump.
Daniel Tobias (Brooklyn, NY)
Imagine Trump giving a speech at the UN... How would translators even handle that?
Frank McNamara (Bolton, MA)
Get out of your Manhattan/DC/Political Class Bubble, Tom, and see how the rest of America lives. Then maybe you'll be able to answer your own question.
Rajmohan Shetty (India)
You ask the question HOW? This late? You must recognize the fact that he - a (dys)functional illiterate individual represents a large functionally illiterate populace in the U.S. Thats HOW! Unless you accept that fact of illiteracy in the U.S. you will keep coming across the likes of him frequently.
David Henry (Concord)
We put Ronald Reagan and "W" in the White House so nothing surprises me. Many voted for Sarah Palin to be steps away.

Let's not feign too much shock NOW!
Pete (West Hartford)
Hillary "... might work well (as President) with Republicans..."
Sadly, as Mitch McConnell said of Obama-> "we will destroy him", so they will try to do to HRC. Republicans will NEVER work with Democrats, no matter which Democrat is in office. Needed: a responsible opposition party. Absent that, we must have: a) a fillibuster-proof senate b) a democratic majority congress
Mitchell Zimmerman (Palo Alto, CA)
All this is fair and accurate (to use the phrase in a correct context). But there's an answer to "How Could We?" "We" got into this because the Republican Party has devoted itself since Nixon to nurturing and exploiting racism. It worked, and GOP's Pravda, the Fox network, has spent decades promoting a reality-free and fact-free view of the world and our country. That's how Republicans have won over the last 50 years. Should we surprised that someone took that foundation of racism and irrationality and ran with it? Supposedly reasonable conservatives like Friedman, who quietly accepted the rightist victories borne of racist irrationality, have a lot to answer for.
Terri (Tampa)
A more informed candidate, that is, more informed in the ways of a duplistic, confiscatory and oppressive government monolith, is no more appealing than a uninformed, dismissive and willfully ignorant candidate. The former will serve the oligarchy, finacialists and globalists while the latter will serve himself. Which is the lesser evil? I'll take the fool over the functionary of the evil elite. You who live in the sway of the swine may choose to supply the rope they hang you with; out here in the land of unmuddled minds, we will choose otherwise.
Aaron Adams (Carrollton Illinois)
Even as a conservative I can not imagine Donald Trump as our president, for many of the reasons listed in this article. The best scenario is for Clinton to win this election. With her unlikable personality and all of her other flaws, there is no way that she would be reelected in 2020. At that time, any reasonable and sensible Republican would win in a landslide.
Eroom (Indianapolis)
You are absolutely right on every point. However, the political right has created an alternative universe where the most significant challenge to Western Civilization is "political correctness" and the unwillingness to call every act of violence "terrorism" whether it is or not. Those who support Trump are responding to a fictional narrative created by talk-radio, Fox"News" and a paradiod Republican Party who has convinced millions that the explanation for everything can be found in a bizarre leftist, muslim, gay and racialist conspiracy! Therefore, lies become truth, truth becomes lies and everything negative we hear about Trump is simply proof of the power of "the conspiracy!"
cyclopsina (seattle)
One of the greatest moments of our democracy are in the peaceful handover of leadership after an election. I'm always thrilled by this, regardless of how happy I am with the new leader. I think that as a nation, we take it for granted that there will be this kind of peaceful transfer will continue.

This is why I'm voting for Hillary Clinton. I know, that whatever flaws she has as a candidate, she is going to eventually turn the helm over to a duly elected replacement and leave our democracy as she found it.

It may sound far fetched, but I'm not so sure about the Donald. He just doesn't play by the rules. His followers don't mind what he does. He doesn't seem mind violence or retribution for those who cross him. He doesn't listen to others and makes costly errors in his campaign, which leads me to think he wouldn't listen to advisors in the White House, which could lead to very serious domestic and international situations. Worse, I think there's a possibility he would not leave our democracy as he found it.

So an answer to the headline, " Trump, How Could We?" I sure hope we don't.
Chris (Cave Junction, OR)
More terrifying than electing Trump is the release of the walking dead that crawled out of the ground upon his summons this past year. Some huge minority of deplorables have now come to life and have entered our society.

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody's around to hear or see it, then it doesn't affect their lives, and they go on as if it hadn't fallen at all, right? Well, the tens of millions of deplorables were out there silent and invisible, they kept to themselves mostly, and their existence was as if they didn't exist at all, except perhaps for a few lunatic tea partiers. Well, now Trump has whipped them up into a rabid, foaming fervor and they are now in our face and in our lives and wrecking this great nation.

Real Americans need to defend the United States of America from these deplorable people to prevent them from destroying it -- what can we do to put them back in their holes again? Remember, they are racists, sexists, misogynists, jingoists, theocratic fascists and generally mean-spirited people. If they were decent human beings, maybe we could work something out with them, but they are not, and we have a big problem to deal with now thanks to Trump.
rjon (Mahomet Illinois)
All the discussion about Trump's lack of preparation for the first debate is a bit silly. It would take years of preparation for him to be able to hold his own in a serious conversation about policy. In short, he would have to become a different person. I do wish he would try to do exactly that.
JABarry (Maryland)
In a family the parents make the decisions on the choices that best serve their family interests: housing, food, clothing, savings, etc. We would never put the neighbor's unruly obnoxious 5-year old in charge of making these decisions....or would we? We are seriously considering electing a child-man president of the US.

The child-man has the full backing and endorsement of the Republican Party. That says a lot about the Republican Party. It is also true that the child-man has public support. And that says a lot about the public that supports him. They are the irresponsible parent choosing the neighbor's child to run the family.
Sharon Herman (Fair Haven, New Jersey)
You are right on all these points. But then you could say about Hillary:
"How could we put a candidate in office who almost was indicted by the FBI for breaching national security? How could we put a democrat in office who is a neocon? How could we put someone in office who bears responsibility for disastrous policies in the Middle East, which have destabilized the region, ignited civil wars which have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians? The reality Tom is that this is the worst choice in a presidential election this country has ever had to face. Millions of people will vote for Hillary after taking painkillers and holding their noses as the lesser of two evils.
Sam (NV)
In Bush v Gore and Obama v Romney and I could discuss the contests with my Republican friends. Discourse was civil, and I actually thought Romney was a pretty upstanding man, with whom I just did not agree.

Today's race is so very different. I get tense when people around me praise Trump. I find myself too nervous to watch the election coverage. I don't want to be around good friends who praise Trump because, primarily, they think his business creds will enrich their lives, or that he "tells it like it is". I'm not even sure what that means, since he lies so much. I avoid people I once thought very highly of. This presidential election election has had an extremely negative impact on me. I just want it to be over. I am simply terrified of the Orange Man, and apparently I am not the only one.
Michael Roush (Wake Forest, North Carolina)
How can we?

It might help by looking first at one of our cherished American myths - the wisdom, common sense and sound judgment of the ordinary citizen.

People are mistaking talking about problems in a brash manner without offering any cogent solutions as wisdom. They are mistaking sophomoric iconoclasm for "telling it like it is." They are mistaking a man who acts as if he can speak world's into existence for a leader.

I don't see wisdom, common sense or sound judgment in any of this.
Jackie (Missouri)
Even though Hillary voted for the war as a Senator, she was hardly the only Senator to do so. In fact, she was one of an overwhelming many, and at the time, voting against it was seen as tantamount to treason and political suicide. Even if she had voted against it, what difference would that have made to the outcome? We still went to war which, at the time, had the backing of most of the people in this country.
Joel Slotnikoff (Saint Louis, MO)
As Rachel Maddow pointed out this evening, Trump said he would not support first use of nuclear weapons but....he wouldn't take any options off the table...the exact opposite of the first statement. This man is hopelessly confused about the most critical issue of national security. And he doesn't have a clue what the "nuclear triad" is..(, sea and air) a most elementary element in understanding nuclear policy. Instead he dodged the question. He could not be bothered to prepare for the debate as he can't be bothered to prepare for the presidency, even on an issue as critical as nuclear weapons.With no military experience and no governmental experience it would, indeed, be insane to elect him. Which would mean it would be insane to vote for him.
newreview (Santa Barbara, CA)
Unfortunately, Mr. Friedman, logic, reason, information and facts will not sway his supporters, any more than they have any impact on him. It's totally nuts that he is up on that stage. Nothing he would do would benefit displaced workers. He doesn't have a clue about those people, whom he clearly regards as losers. It's not the economically disadvantaged who are his strongest supporters. It's the bigots, who finally have a champion and validation for their bigotry. And those people don't have critical thinking skills.
Patrick Moynihan (RI)
Great question, Tom. How can a man like Trump end up in the White House? Have his opponent be a person so embroiled in deceitful practices (speaking fees/ private server / pay to play foundation) and so war hawkish (Libya) as to make a clown welcome comic relief. It also helps to have disenfranchised a significant segment of the working class of America by favoring financial firms controlling huge amalgamated pension funds.
L.Levy (Manhattan)
In a thousand years, no one will remember the corporate tax rate, no one will remember the promised but non-existent wall, no one will remember the trade deficit; but they will remember the fact that voters in 2016, in the greatest nation in the world, surrendered to their darkest impulses for the sake of economic prosperity, and elected a racist, bigoted, xenophobic, misogynist authoritarian.
Eric Blair (The Hinterlands)
It may be that investors are starting to recognize an important reality: further GOP tax cuts and wage constraints could produce short-term gains for them, but only at the cost of a re-weakening broader economy for the long term.
endoftheroad (Royalston MA)
Every NYT reader should not just HOPE that Donald will lose but ACT to ensure that he will. Please volunteer with the Hillary campaign. I called 50 people in swing states the other day from my home. It is easy...the campaign will set you up with a script and names and numbers of independent and Democratic voters. This is the way elections are won. Complacency is the enemy and TURNOUT is the key to saving our democracy!
Doodle (Fort Myers)
I had a conversation with a Republican Trump supporter today. She recognized Trump's various short-coming. She even admitted Trump conned and cheated as a businessman. Then she concluded that a crooked unethical businessman such as Trump is just what the United States of America needed to get ahead.

She said, "How else are we to get ahead?"

She is a very healthy 72 year old working part time as an office receptionist, used to be car sales person. So she thinks our country needs to cheat and con our way to prosperity, I suppose such as robbing Iraq's oil. American exceptionalism indeed. Insanity is the time we live in.
Ben (Akron)
Mr Friedman: NOBODY works well with Republicans.
HeyNorris (Paris, France)
I can't quite decide whether Trump or Conway is the liar most foul.

There's something insidious and disturbing the way Conway spews (often unchallenged) lies with a soft voice and a smile. The prospect of her, as White House chief of staff, is almost as frightening as Trump in the Oval. The prospect of the two of them in the White House makes my blood run cold.

This is a woman who has sold her soul to clean up after some of the GOP's most unsavory luminaries, for example, Cruz, Gingrich, and now Trump. So many of Trump's utterances are completely indefensible, yet she calmly spins a golden web of untruths around them that seems to flummox the talking heads. How she sleeps at night is a mystery to me.

And then there's Bannon. And Trump's children, who seem to have learned the elasticity of truth at their father's knee, and, and, and...

We need to be asking "how?" about the lot of them, not just Trump.
@ReReDuce (Los Angeles)
We can put this man in office because of you. Because of you and "the media" who gave DT BILLIONS of free advertising because it was good for ratings - which when translated - means you media folks made lots and lots of money. So... then after you all got clicks and website visits and advertising dollars every time you ran a DT story, you were happy.... until you realized that your efforts gave the DT movement momentum - and power. THEN, rather than listen to the voice of the people, so many who want change... all you establishment media ganged together and tried to thwart the one candidate who was appealing to both democrats and republicans - Bernie Sanders. You all did character assassination on Bernie, and wrote pieces that undermined his candidacy. Now... this is what we have, and it is because of YOU. I read your disparaging remarks, I saw it all unfold. You and your newspaper, after you got your money and your ratings, after you got your 'status quo' 1%-er on the top of the ticket, NOW, you are running scared. So when DT wins this election, you can go home and look in the mirror and say "this is my fault" and hopefully you will quit your job in shame and go far far away with your riches and escape the mayhem and the sad sad results of your actions. You can take your ill gotten gains and watch from afar the mess , the destruction, the utter chaos that you created. HOW, could this happen you ask? YOU!
Yasna McDonald (NY.NY....)
How would normal and smart americans know to vote for Hillary, when small percentage of voters even read NYT....all other media is only talking about greatness of is so unfair,,,,,,so unfair...
The same thing happened when GW Bush was running for president.
and look where those voters got us into...
The same thing is going on now...
If only 20% of Americans would read NYT and understand the truth, we would be in the right place...
The other media is going to help whether intentionally or not elect the con artist with sawdust for brain and ruin the planet....
How do we stop that...
Bravo NYT...your devoted reader
Yasna McDonald
Never trump....never.....
Dave (Wisconsin)
2 Favors: 1. Can someone count the number of times Trump said "I agree with Hillary" and vice-versa. I suspect it is 3-5, maybe more, vs zero. 2. Can someone count the times each candidate said something specific--(e.g.: Hillary mentioned (3) strong things to build on in black communities: church, etc. ...). I suspect the ratio will be about 90 to single digits in favor of Hillary. In fact, I think Trump was saying to himself: Hmmm...that's not a bad idea....hmmm....never thought of that....hmmm....never thought of it that way....hmmm....I did not know that... Thanks
Richard Deforest (Mora, Minnesota)
"Sometimes the sanest reaction to an insane Insanity." (RDE). My deepest appreciation, Tom Friedman, for your usual balanced, lucid, and clarifying statement. Like many, We just received damning emails about Hillary Clinton, condemning her presence and, but with absolute No mention of the irrational Monster lurking in the "room".... with His N/E/S/W Omnipotrent perverent Brilliance. Meanwhile, those emails were sent by what We believ d were a "best Friend" and an Inlaw who "Loved" us. I don't believ either one would move into Trump's Fantasy Land....and vote for Him. At least Hillary has spent her Life in Service....while Trump would be another "elected Non-Servant, bordered, on the N/E/S/ Himself. Again, I Thank You....from your Minnesota, Tom Friedman!
Yes Indeed. Electing Trump would be insanity.

So, hadn't we better honestly ask ourselves, how did we get to this point that the Republican Party has nominated him to be president? Let's be honest, THAT is where the insanity blossomed.
So the "conservative values" which the Republican Party touts incessantly results in their nominating this dangerous man to be considered for President.
Who is insane here?
Every single Republican that does not denounce Trump stands with him, and is culpable for the insanity of even considering Trump for office.
Bob Laughlin (Denver)
"and might even work well with Republicans, as she did as a senator."
That one sentence just gives you away, Friedman.
Yes, it would be lunacy to elect such an obviously defective individual to the presidency. Or the local stray cats society.
But in reality, it would be lunacy to elect any republican to any seat anywhere in the Nation after the last 24 years of anti-democratic, anti-American behavior.
Bill Clinton was the most successful republican of the 20th Century, even if he sported the D after his name, and the republican party tried every way they could to take down his legitimacy, including impeaching him. They have done the same thing to Barack Obama, without the obligatory feigned courtesy.
There is only one way to get this Nation working for all of We the People and that is to show any and all republicans the door. And if it hits them on the butt on their way out, so much the better.
Donald Walkovik (Fairfield, CT)
Easily. Working class people of all backgrounds are discouraged. How can we elect a crony capitalist who was in debt when she left the WH and, after 10 years of public service, is worth in excess of $100 million? Who responds to concerns about ethics by responding that there is no definitive proof of wrong doing, much like Big Lue in Guys & Dolls: 33 arrests, no convictions, as proof of honesty. How can we elect someone who gleefully says she is going to put the coal miners out of business? Next come oil workers. Next auto workers. Next cattle ranchers. And tells a 50 year old mine worker she will offer retraining programs. To do what? Flip hamburgers? How can we elect someone who encouraged the Arab Spring, leaving leaders executed, imprisoned or murdered and expect Assad to quietly fade into the night? Who used the CIA and private contractors to arm Syrian Rebels who turned out to be ISIL? How can we elect someone who says victims of abuse have an right to be believed except in the case of her husband's victims? How can we elect someone who thinks that she has a right to be POTUS because her spouse was POTUS and who says she will put him in charge of our economy?

And that, and many other reasons, is why this election is close, third party candidates will affect the outcome, and neither of the major party candidates is deemed honest or trustworthy by the voters.

How can we elect anyone backed by the Ruling Elite and media who denigrate the working class?
Barry (NC)
Thomas Friedman eloquently lays out the legitimate dangers of a Trump presidency. He does so focusing on the issues at hand, not even referring to Trump's repugnant views on women and non-whites.

This is the manner in which Americans who care about the country should be judging their presidential candidates. Competency in being a national and world leader is far more important than braggadocio, television ratings, or personality. Both major party candidates in this election are admittedly flawed, but one can only hope that a majority of American voters recognize the dire consequences of electing someone as ignorant and inept as Donald Trump.
LRN (Mpls.)
It has almost become an a posteriori argument that Trump is rapidly reaching, or has reached the gates of immutability, as regards his habits of doubling down. His lynchpin, for prevailing over the opponent, is to blitz him or her with baseless bunch of bunkum. When the attack is repulsed, and the tables are turned, he flusters and blusters both at the same time. His decibel level, decidedly, becomes almost deadly. He then disgorges a volley of pseudo-rhetorical flourishes, furthermore, until the opponent is almost demolished. Not Hillary, this time.

This is a presidential debate, and his cockamamie will be challenged by all the decent men and women, brimming with established evidences, known as facts. Even then, they do not seem to matter for Trump and his supporters. Hillary has her own baggage of garbage, she has to reckon with. If she continues to explain and attempts to come as clean as possible, things can be as less unpalatable as they can get.

Debates or no debates, die-hard Trump supporters may do well to seek the gospel truth rather than blindly follow his foot steps. It can serve the surrogates own interests, if they check Trump's extravagant fabrications, for themselves, rather than being caught in a cobweb of his futile and fruitless fables.

Good luck to both Hillary's and Trump's followers.
Melissa Slaughter (Birmingham, Alabama)
The question that will haunt this country far after this election ends is why so many are supporting a race baiting, misogynistic charlatan who offers no viable policies, only scorn and criticism of our country.

The Trump supporters I know, which unfortunately are far too many, are well educated, well traveled, and well off. They are mostly women. They are not southerners, which would be an easy scapegoat, or rural but are from places like Milwaukee Wisconsin, Palm Beach Florida, Cincinnati Ohio, Newport Rhode Island, Dubois Wyoming as well as high income southern suburbs. Their support cannot be explained by a self serving need to lower their taxes; they supported him before he unrolled any tax plans.

These are not the white, high school educated, working class disaffected men that seem to be the easy answer to such a disturbing movement. They are all college educated and most with post graduate degrees. They are infuriated by claims that by supporting Trump they are racists. They are successful capitalists and therefore not likely to be gullible enough to believe that Trump is a competent businessman. For years they have ridiculed him for his crassness. They do not see a winner. They see a tornado to be unleashed on our government. Why? To teach it a lesson? A lesson from which our democracy might not recover.

The only commonality that these Trump supporters have is where they get their political information- Fox News- and a deep skepticism for the "MSM".
Hamid Varzi (Spain)
How? Very simple: By raising the post WWII generations of Americans on junk food, junk economics, junk politics, junk morals and historical revisionism. In essence, incessant brainwashing that has instilled Americans with a self-defeating infatuation with tone over substance.

Trump is the natural result of the culture that nurtured him.
Dan Raemer (Brookline, MA)
Well said. Donald Trump is the most bombastic candidate for US President in my lifetime. Hillary Clinton is the most controlled. However, the divisions in this country are deep and wide. The question is which candidate has the best chance of bridging the divide. Trump, as a businessman, has shown himself to provoke and alienate while Clinton, once in office, has shown herself to connect and compromise. The choice is clear.
Stephan (Seattle)
I like most in this Country have been brainwashed by 25 years of GOP propaganda that Hillary isn’t trustworthy, lies and has broken laws. This all began with her early attempts at healthcare reform and the GOP’s recognition that she had the potential to be a female President. The cascade of accusations rained down on Hillary continuously over the years, building to Trump’s shouting “Crooked Hillary”.

I was a Bernie supporter and came around to Hillary as the lessor of two evils but I started reviewing why I was so anti-Hillary when one of my sons claimed she a criminal. So I sat back and I thought about the claims of criminality.

How could Hillary evade criminal proceeding if there were evidence? The FBI is full of conservative. The Justice Dept. has many Republicans from the days of G. W. Bush. How could a cover-up be successful with hundreds of potential whistle blowers, not to mention anyone willing to break ranks and come forward with proof would be rewarded with millions of dollars by wealthy Republican. What I came to realize is the attacks had insidiously impacted my opinion of Clinton. The stream of lies had me marching lockstep to the GOP storyline, shades of Germany in the 30s.

The attacks against Hillary have taken away a bright eyed idealist of the 90s. The GOP and all of us that swallowed the bait had transformed Hillary into a battle harden realist. I can now appreciate Ms. Clinton in a new light of strength and I’ll be very proud to call her President.
Leslie374 (St. Paul, MN)
The terrifying reality is that Donald Trump could be elected. Every registered Democrat, Republican and Independent Voter needs to assess the explosive damage that will be created world wide if he is elected. The first debate made one thing crystal clear. It doesn't matter what Mr. Trump's vision is... he lacks the cognitive and emotional skills that are needed to serve as President of the United States. He is a belligerent, narcissistic bully. He cares nothing about the middle-class of this country. He is interested in increasing his own cash flow. Accountability means nothing to him. This is NOT the election to cast a protest vote for a third party candidate (who has no chance of being elected.) The American Democracy, itself is at stake. Wake up America.
Jack Nargundkar (Germantown, MD)
It is well known that non-college-educated white men are one of the biggest groups supporting Donald Trump. Also, it appears that non-college-educated white women are one of the biggest groups of undecided voters in this election

Here is another reason why Hillary Clinton’s plan for tuition-free college makes a lot of sense? Non-college educated men and women can avail themselves of either a tuition-free community college education or a debt-free public university education. It will not only help them find better paying jobs, but also help them make better informed decisions, such as, why Trump serves neither their economic interests nor the larger national interest?

Obviously, the Clinton plan does not help non-college educated people in this election cycle, but I highlight it to make a point about one of the most consequential benefits of a college education – it ensures that going forward we will never ever “put in the Oval Office” a Trump-like demagogue!
C Wolfe (<br/>)
The leering, smug, icky look on Trump's face when he's displaying Alicia Machado as she exercises, surrounded by what seemed to be an entirely male media corps … it so thoroughly disgusted me I can hardly bear to look at him. No self-respecting woman can possibly vote for him if they see it.

I haven't seen any photo of Ms. Machado that would merit the label "fat". Entertainers are held to a different standard, of course, but if her weight became an issue, it should have been managed by consultants and trainers. There was certainly no reason for Trump himself to become involved, other than the desire to control and shame a beautiful woman and parade her publicly as an object belonging to him. The matter could've been dealt with discreetly and privately … but that wouldn't have been as gratifying to Trump.

How could we, indeed.
skeptonomist (Tennessee)
How could such a large part of the American people support Trump? One factor is obviously racism, which the Republican party has supported, in a way slightly less overt than Trump's, for decades. But among the more substantive reasons for supporting Trump - or opposing what are viewed as establishment candidates - are opposition to globalization, which has clearly led to job losses for Americans; and opposition to involvement in futile wars in the Middle East. People aren't necessarily opposed to small winning wars (which Trump seems to promise), but they really hate losing or inconclusive ones.

In other words, a lot of people are opposed to two of the things that Friedman has been assiduous in supporting over the years. Are they really wrong in this?
Abby (Tucson)
Nafta has been hard on everyone, but this I know from studies of Mexico since my state is a major trader with same. They are now educating and retaining their own engineers. They have some of the best new manufacturing in the world. They are taking back from China the outsourced work their used to enjoy, and soon our neighbor will have the money to splurge.

Wages have no where to go but UP. I prefer a neighbor who is healthy to one that is choking on their own fumes. If things become unstable with China, I sure will be happy we helped Mexico GetSmart.
NorthernVirginia (Falls Church, Va)
Well, Trump is not much of a businessman according to Warren Buffett. You know, Warren Buffett the billionaire who has been touting his own investments in Wells Fargo for years. Hmm, why isn't anyone asking Buffett about Trump any longer?

And Trump appears to be susceptible to flattery -- you know, like someone accepting a Nobel Peace Prize that he clearly had not earned. We wouldn't want that.

Trump's opponent most resembles Leona Helmsly, who famously said "Only the little people pay taxes". E-mail servers, pay-for-play State Department, private Foundation with people on the government payroll -- hey, only the little people pay attention to ethics.

Trump, and the responsible electorate, is genuinely outraged over the last 5 or 6 $Trillion spent on war in the Middle East, while his opponent appears wholly unconcerned and ready to pour more money down that rathole.

Trump is self-centered and not terribly couth, but I'll take the loud-mouthed blowhard over the smug liar and cheat.
KathyK (Minnesota)
Trump's ignorance and even his weak debate performance isn't his fault (nothing is); he was plagued by a misfiring microphone or a biased debate moderator or any one of a million excuses. And I'm so glad he warned us about the very real threats to our national security imposed by 400-pound bed-sitting hackers (I had no idea!). Maybe he can get them all on diets like he tried to do with the former Ms. Universe. Whew!

The real fault is ours that Trump is even on the ticket ... thankfully, there is still time to right this wrong and ensure he will never set foot in the Oval Office.
Felipe Mendez (Oregon)
I agree with most of the points in your piece, Mr. Friedman, with the exception of your characterization of Secretary Clinton's proposed policies as being "stale". I believe her policies will help to empower me and others to make positive contributions in government, the workplace, schools, and in voluntary activities. I am an excited supporter of these progressive plans. I am an enthusiastic supporter of Hillary!
TMK (New York, NY)
Not rocket science. Trump is headed to the White House for the simple reason he's willing to challenge the status-quo. A politically-correct warm and fuzzy we-are-the-world status quo unashamedly promoted by the likes of Friedman, at Ted talks and fancy 3rd world resorts, in exchange for free food and adulation for the only white guy in the room, who only too happy to lap it all up and report glowingly here.

But one that has uprooted local communities over the years, trampling over their values and heaping their protests with only abuse and contempt.

Let's be clear: Trump's an anti-establishment disrupter, at the right time and right place, asking all the right questions. That's why he's getting propelled towards the presidency. Not for his debating skills, bouts of attention-seeking harmless though provocative talk, not for his tax records, not even for the details. Just for his gall to thumb his nose at the establishment and show the finger. That's it.

It is indeed the need of the hour and Trump is delivering. Hillary can too, by distancing herself from her failed ex-boss. But she's sticking to the safe PC script, the company line, the Friedman MP3 if you will. Too bad nobody wants that download anymore.

Go Trump! They still don't get it.
Neander (California)
'How', you ask? The impending threat of a Trump Presidency can be laid at the feet of a cynical partisan cabal over at the RNC, and Republicans who hold office across the nation, who have carefully nurtured the fact-free distemper of their electorate, managed to fumble the primary process, and now stand with shameless allegiance to a candidate each in their heart knows would be a clear and present danger to the interests of the American people and the world.

Their willingness to pass the baton of power to such a hopelessly unqualified and deliberately ignorant self-promoter exposes them for what they are: unprincipled hacks in the service of an elite. They've now made it unmistakably clear: they could care less about the people and institutions they are sworn to protect.
Jubilee133 (Woodstock, NY)
"I am not enamored of Clinton’s stale, liberal, centralized view of politics, but she is sane and responsible; she’ll do her homework, can grow in the job....".

You would be far more persuasive if you did not tow the NYT party line.

I may yet have to vote for Hillary but she is lucky that she faces only Donald Trump. I cannot get the image of her beating on one of her devices with a hammer in an effort to hide her "pay for play" at State from would be harvesters of her private email server which contained national security documents.

The Clinton Foundation, while doing some good, is apparently corrupt to the extent that anyone could hire the Clinton connections for enough green.
And by the way, where are the Wall Street speeches?

Hillary, or her operatives, actively schemed against the first African
American president, coming back into the fold only when promises were made to position her for a run in NY for senate, then for State and then for President. Since her husband is responsible for the dramatic increase in black incarceration in the 90s, I always smile when I hear Hill court the minority vote, which ultimately keeps her ambition afloat.

What Hill, and her operatives, did to Bernie Sanders is a disgrace. The DNC's cooperative effort to hand Hill the nomination, caused needless alienation of millennials, and makes this race closer than it has to be.

Hillary is devious, lies first (as FBI director Comey established), and too bad this is our only choice.
Patty W (Sammamish Wa)
What has happened to the Republican Party that Donald Trump is allowed to be their presidential candidate ? Every republican politician, as well as his republican handlers, and every news media outlet know they are responsible for promoting someone so incompetent, and is so egregious in using racism for political gain, and is actually dangerous to our country's national security. That debate highlighted for America just how little respect Trump has for the highest office in our country. There is absolutely no excuse for his lack of preparedness for the most important debate for the presidency ... 85 million people watched his total incompetence. Pretty ironic that his whole campaign is based on the incompetency of President Obama's presidency,and the fact, he questioned president Obama's citizenship. Our country deserves more respect from the Republican Party .... you have made a joke of our election and put our families at risk with Donald Trump.
Martin Byster (Fishkill, NY)
Too many potential voters seem bent on trashing our current government of the United States, break it to pieces and let those pieces fall where they may apparently believing those pieces will reconstruct themselves in their favor.

Its like they are forced to gut an innundated old house after flood waters recede without any plan to reconstruct, without the money to do it.

What else to do but wing it.
Vision (Long Island NY)
To answer Trumps false claim that the economy is a disaster;
Over twice as many jobs were created during the eight year Administration of Democratic President Obama, than in the twelve years under Republican Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush!
Also, the Wall Street Journal's real Time Economics Report also confirms that there were more jobs created in the eight year Presidency of Democrat Bill Clinton, then in the twenty years under Republican Presidents Reagan, G.H.W. Bush and George W. Bush!
And lets not forget;
*The last Republican Administration, (G.W. Bush), ended in the Great Recession!
*The previous Republican Administration, (G.H.W. Bush) ended in a recession!
*The Great Depression occurred under the Administration of the Conservative/Republican President, Herbert Hoover!
The facts cannot be disputed! If the American people really want economic security and job growth, then they must to vote for Democrats, not only for President, but also the Senate, House and Governor!
Do we really want another Republican Recession?
Sylvain (<br/>)
Yes Thomas it will not be be the first time that people voted insanely, ask the germans. Our only salvation is our free media that should hold Trump to task and not engaging in false equivalencies or falling in love with controversies
M Blaise (Central NY)
I can't disagree with anything Tom - and many others - have said. I believe a Trump presidency would be catastrophic, and not just for the US.

But I think Tom and others are missing the salient point. I think that most of Trump's supporters are just fed up with what the USA has brought itself and them. They are tired of getting screwed over and hearing empty promises - from ALL sides. It's true that many of the perceived wrongs are not real - have been inflamed and exaggerated. But that does not reduce their effectiveness in motivating people.

To that, add the fading advantage that being white has provided for so long to the mix as population demographics change.

Yo that, add the fact that the "winners" have so successfully squeezed every bit of profit leaving the average person to economically wither. Unrestrained capitalism giving vast advantages to the well heeled and leaving most folks in the dust.

And you now have one toxic mess that wants change no matter what. Even if that means just blowing up the system.

In some ways it's a simple case of "We reap what we sow" ...
tconnolly56 (New York)
Mr. Friedman should not be surprised by the "how" and "why" of Trump. I'm getting close to retirement age and have witnessed firsthand the destruction of American society in the hands of the privileged elites in both parties.
Hillary epitomizes the governing elite. Recognizing the mess the elites in DC have created, any anti-government nominee is preferable by many people in both parties and the supporters of Bernie Sanders came very close to rejecting the Democratic elite contender.
Trump is going to do what many of us feel is the last resort - completely turn DC inside-out in a massive restructuring and restore the hope that America will again be exceptional and not a bit player on the world stage.
That, of course, dismays a significant number of world leaders, to which I say "Tough luck. Time for you to stand on your own two feet." That includes Japan, South Korea and all of the EU.
Micoz (Charlotte, NC)
As the left wing media get increasingly desperate about Hillary losing, they will twist, misquote, quote out of context, distort, and harangue even more than usual. This column is a perfect example. But the over-riding fact of the 2016 election is that Americans want a return to the Constitution, to a government of laws, and we are willing to vote for the only person who might be able to save America.

The liberal elites who supported Obama every step in the way in his steadfast march toward dictatorship and moral bankruptcy will never understand it, never at all. But they will screech ever louder and louder until their heroes are thrown back into the primordial ooze where they belong.
Amanda (Washington, DC)
Maybe another question to ask is “How could the two major parties and media have ignored the dialogue that has resulted in nominating the two most unpalatable candidates?” The Republicans were smug at the beginning thinking they could push their most favored son, Jeb Bush over the finish line. The Democrats were arrogant in virtually saying the nomination was Hillary Clinton’s. She had the majority of super delegates before the first vote was cast and no other Democrat challenged her. The “allowed” Bernie Sanders to run because it appeared that he was not considered a viable threat. What neither political party understood was that Americans were tired of being pushed aside and so they rolled the dice and rallied behind Trump and Sanders despite their seemingly long odds. The 24/7 news media and their parade of “pundits” speak mostly to their own political tribes and elitist peers and only add fuel to an already out of control file. I agree that electing Trump would be insanity – but the insanity started even before the first ballot was cast.
Dorothy (Evanston, IL)
Going along with your comments, I just finished reading the article 'Practice, Practice, Practice' and am so appalled. DT resisted all attempts to practice/ rehearse for the debates. His aides (anonymously, mind you) blamed it on too many advisers, a packed full schedule, distraction of Roger Ailes, for his failure. Of course, they are his aides and so, no one blamed the candidate himself for his lack of attention, fortitude, knowledge, skill of facts and overall general demeanor.

There is nothing wrong with practice, despite what Trump said during the debate. Hillary showed a skill and command of the facts, what Trump showed was a command of being a loose cannon. According to what I read in the article, he still doesn't get it. Like his military school playing soldier, but in real life avoiding it, the idea of running for president seems to have more appeal than actually being president. It's more fun wearing his red baseball hat and saying outrageous comments, than buckling down and learning about the job. While this may have been okay for Winfield Scott, Benjamin Harrison or some of our lesser known presidents, in today's world we need a president who has command and knowledge of how the world works, not someone who throws out insults about Rosie O'Donnell, Miss Universe, or the Khan family.

This man is dangerous- his lack of motivation beyond adulation is absolutely terrifying in terms of sitting in the Oval Office. The silence of all his fellow Rep shouts loudly.
CJ Ellinger (Minneapolis)
What truly befuddles me, are the topics that don't come up in these discussions. If a Trump presidency actual comes to fruition, where is the concern about what could/would happen to the Supreme Court? At the very least, two justices will be appointed in the next four years. Why has this not become a topic worthy of great concern and discussion? As frightening as it is to allow Trump access to our nuclear arsenal, I find his ability to strike from our Constitution, laws that have furthered rights for women, even more chilling! The longterm ramifications of a Trump presidency on this issue alone, would be devastating! How this has escaped debate is beyond me...
FSMLives! (NYC)
The Democrats have abandoned the working and middle classes to instead focus endlessly on identity and racial politics that inevitably turn into attacks on white people, who are tired of hearing how it is they and their "privilege" who are the cause of any and all social ills in America and, in fact, the entire world.

Liberals have endless compassion and bountiful public funds for refugees, immigrants, and illegal aliens, yet none for our own citizens, who are deemed not worthy of jobs that pay a living wage. The Left does not understand that many Americans have nothing to lose and are fine with blowing up the system that has failed them, as long as they can take the 1% down with them. (See: Brexit)

Just look at the comments from the NYTs echo chamber. The Left comes off as insufferable snobs, coddled Limousine Liberals who seem clueless that their smugness has the opposite effect, that it makes people sympathize with Trump and his followers, those who the Left denigrates as "racists", "bigots", and "xenophobes", without any recognition that they might, just might, have legitimate grievances and worries concerning their marginalization and economic conditions.

This is your fault, Lefties. Stop it or get used to saying "President Trump".
Gerard (PA)
You make "blowing up the system" sound like fun - but few will do well in the chaos. So - if you truly wish to address the "legitimate grievances and worries concerning their marginalization and economic conditions" then please look at what the two candidates are actually proposing to do. Clinton wants to take money from the 1% in taxes - Trump announced he will lower their taxes. Are you sure you are supporting the candidate who will "take the 1% down".
Sam Sengupta (Utica, New York)
Trump has yet to tell his potential voters how he is going to bring back manufacturing jobs from overseas. This is one of the many issues he deliberately avoided with tangential claims that had nothing to do with the questions the debate moderator asked. In future, I'd like to see moderators taking a harsher stance when candidates avoid their uncomfortable questions.
How could we? The answer is obvious -- call it the Paul Ryan effect.

There are millions of Republicans who detest Hillary Clinton and her liberal policies, but they are fully aware of the points you raise here. They are also fully aware that many highly respected conservatives, including journalists, politicians and national security experts, consider Trump unfit to be president. They must decide whether to vote for Donald Trump, and this awareness causes them great concern. Call this group the Informed.

In their desperate quest to rationalize Trump, the Informed look to his supporters. They disregard the extended Trump team, including Giuliani and Christie, because of their self-interest. But then there is Paul Ryan and a few others like McCain, and Cruz. Paul Ryan is highly respected, intelligent and honest. He has often criticized Trump and was very hesitant to endorse him. But now, after serious reflection on all of the pros and cons raised by fellow Republicans, Ryan has concluded that Trump is the best choice for this country. The Informed have their answer: if Paul Ryan can honestly and thoroughly reflect on all this and conclude Trump is best, who are they to argue.

If Trump wins the election, Paul Ryan can take credit for swaying the millions of Informed, perhaps enough to put Trump over the top. Mr. Ryan, is that what you want?
susan (California)
Thank you Tom Friedman. I too am not a fan of Hillary Clinton but I too know that she is the only choice we have on November 8 if we don't want to plunge the world into financial debacle and nuclear ruin. Whatever her faults, Hillary is on the right side of global warming, human rights, and law and order. She didn't cause the problems in the Middle East which have been messed up for 200 years. She and Bill have made mistakes but they don't cause financial disasters. She believes in facts and science, and understands the complexity and competing interests of global affairs. She has had enough hard knocks in her own life to be open to new ideas and keep on trudgig - as she learned from Bernie Sanders in this election. This is not a beauty contest. It's not only a super bowl or a luxury real estate development. It's hand to hand combat, winner take all. It's the economic well being of billions of people, security of Western Europe, and the biggest test ever for democracy. It's the future of our planet. I live in a pro-Hillary state with a thriving economy. I may move to a swing state so my vote will count. I'm putting my money where my mouth is, unlike Donald Trump. Too many good-hearted Americans have been dumbed down by a distorted media slanted toward the upper 1%. They don't even know they will vote against their own interests if they vote for Trump. Can you talk with those friends? Jill Stein is a puppet of the 1% to beat Hillary - who is financing her?
dick m. (thunder bay, ontario)
The experience of the various contenders for the US presidency shows very clearly the need the electorate has for a different approach to governance, a different approach taken by someone who has not been 'tainted' by the approaches taken in the past.

It is almost beyond ironic that so many of the potential electorate think that Donald Trump is the one to initiate such a new approach. Far from new, Trump is the very personification of all that's wrong with the current model. He is dangerously ignorant--aside from his own schemes to 'beggar my neighbour'--of workable foreign policy, he is full of ignorant bluster and loud volume in place of reasoned argument based on facts, he is fully confident in his own ignorance of how today's world works in place of being informed as to the facts of any matter, and he is flat out dismissive of anyone whose view differs from his own--changeable every five minutes-- on any matter whatsoever.

It beggars credibility that Trump should be a serious rival to Mrs. Clinton, arguably the best qualified candidate for POTUs ever to come down the pike.
Chris (Northern Virginia)
Trump is basically giving everyone the middle finger, and his supporters love it because that coarse gesture sums up their attitude regarding much that they have experienced in life. They're thrilled to have a candidate who gives them permission to publicly express the sentiment in an unvarnished "politically incorrect" way. That's how we could end up with a petulant child leading a nation of petulant children.
Thomas (Tustin, CA)
The final curtain. A "those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad"
Chuck (Yacolt, WA)
In the immortal words of Leona Helmsley, "Paying taxes is for the little people".
ReV (New York)
You are so right about Trump. And your article about the death of the Republican party was the best expose on that issue by far.
Trump is so unqualified in so many ways that it is really scary when you think he may be president of the US. How is it possible that just before the debate there was almost an equal chance of him becoming the next commander in chief?
But this is not the result of magic. Trump has a real chance because people are supporting him across the country and that is the scary thing. How is it possible that almost half the electorate is planning to vote for Trump is beyond me. Could it be because so many americans are either racists, or ignorant, or uneducated or gullible, or political tribal people?
Philip (Pompano Beach, FL)
This very well written piece hits MANY nails on the head. The mere fact that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee and enjoys a level of support is embarrassing; any possibility of that he might get elected is terrifying, The fact that he was able to garnish enough support to appear in the debate sends a horrible message to the world about many of our voters.
Chris Bayne (Lawton, OK)
It is a truly scary scenario, Trump in the White House. Millions lose their health care as he repeals the ACA, as tax rates are lowered ihuge deficits result and infrastructure and human assistance program's are cut so we can afford bigger outlays for defense spending. The wearth inequality increases even more contributing to more gun carrying homegrown extremist, racism and xenophobia peak as the demographics begin to shift polarizing them. Humiliation on the international front, and no doubt constant warfare. Yes, it would be insanity and truly tragic for the USA to elect Trump.
Ron (Ontario)
The results of the debate did not surprise me. Since the beginning of this campaign Donald Trump has impressed me as being intellectually lazy; he doesn't want to put in the work.

To sit down and practice debating tactics and read position papers on a range of subjects seems to be beyond him. I can't envision markedly better performances on the next debates because of these character flaws.

If elected President I also just can't see him lasting too long. There is a reason why Barack Obama has gotten quite grey over the last number of years. Sure being President has its perks but I am sure it can be a frustrating and challenging job, and for the most part a thankless one.

Can you envision Donald's reaction when told:
- No Donald the campaign is over you don't get to hold rallies every night where people cheer and yell for you.
- yes Donald your supporters will turn on you when you don't give them what they want.
- No Donald you can't fire congressman and Senators simply because they disagree with what you say and want.
- Yes Donald you have to stay in the office and read this huge pile of documentation so you understand what is actually going on in the Middle East.

I just see him saying.... "I am outa here... I didn't sign up for this"
Michael (Zurich)
The GOP deserves Trump as their candidate, but not as president. The debate was eye opening. If the American people really elect this man as president, the reputation of the country which has already suffered enormously under George W. Bush will diminish further. The signal to the world would be catastrophic.
And how is it possible that the people leading one of the two major American political parties do not see fit to disavow this candidate?
Thomas (Tustin, CA)
Many have.
Fe R (San Diego)
The rise of DJT says more about the mindset of his supporters than the man himself. And this is SCARY! Despite his apparent lunacy and inanity, a good segment of the American electorate has decidedly put their blinders on and selectively chosen their brand of ear plugs for various reasons ranging from desperation, hate, greed , ambition and change. Change is understandable given the Beltway dysfunction but can he deliver? He promises the moon and stars but is a serial pathological liar believable?
You can pose all your incredulous questions to drag the horse to the water but you won't be able to make it drink, Mr. Friedman.
DaveB (Boston MA)
They haven't put their blinders on. They haven't selectively chosen their brand of ear plugs.

America is tearing itself apart because too many people aren't educated and are simply not smart. They have no means of discriminating between political paths which help them or hurt them. They only know they're not happy. They aren't driving a beamer and living in an expensive condo and they are just willing to tear the whole place down because they see themselves as downtrodden and unimportant, and it isn't going to change.

They are ANGRY and more than willing to overlook the possibility that Trump will make it even worse. Trump is NEW and Hillary is OLD. Out with the old, in with the new. And "we" really don't care if we're blowing the place up.
Nancy Roman (Litchfield, CT)
How could we elect a hateful ignoramus to the Oval Office? Because there are millions of hateful ignoramuses in this country who are full of venom at having had to tolerate a black President for 8 years. This is their revenge. They are choosing the opposite of thoughtful, educated, competent - Trump fills the bill for them. He represents all the hate they have been dying to express.
Joshua Bauman (Glenolden, PA)
This may have been one of your better articles of late. The world is already in shock that our populace, or at least a significant portion of it, has nominated this terrible man to the Republican nomination. Even after Hillary wins as should be expected, our image has been indelibly stained. Should the young and the minority groups, so essential to the Obama victories, fail to vote for Hillary, we will be at risk to collapse our economy and take much of the developed world down with us. Trump may seem funny to some, but his election would be no laughing matter.
Insanity? Maybe even deplorable?
Should she win, the political challenge for Clinton will be to reduce the percentage of the electorate that's seems to be buying into the insanity. . Those currently unswayed Trump voters who believe the worst about America and our future. Regardless of the actual picture.
Maybe after Clinton's first term, when their guns haven't all been confiscated . When Christians are still free to worship?
When they realize there is not and never was an open border.
That we are not "losing" the war on ISIS and global terrorism.
That the millions Middle Eastern refugees the Democrats want to allow into the country didn't actually materialize.
That the Clinton emails didn't put western civilization at risk.
That living without Donald Trump as President didn't mean the end of the world.
But that won't be enough unless the next administration comes up with policies to turn around the economic picture in areas that feel they've been left out.
It can't be done with a grid locked Congress. Clinton will need the support of Republicans.
So if she's elected, we'll see if the GOP really cares about middle America and the middle class.
Or if Mitch McConnell's decides his top priority is to make Hillary Clinton a one term President. And the insane cycle continues.
vishmael (madison, wi)
GOP has long presented America with puppet presidents, whose role is never to govern so much as to provide the public a dog-and-pony show - or any other analogy of trite treacle - while the real governance is done behind closed door by and for the powers-that-be. It's tiresome that a reader should have to note this rather than have Friedman himself cite Gilens & Page and numerous other scholarly documentations of the puppet presidency, Trump but the latest hoisted to that pedestal and thus peddled to a presumably gullible populace. Sic sempre stupid-us.
See also