After the raucous second presidential debate Sunday night, the news networks evaluated Republican Donald Trump’s and Democrat Hillary Clinton’s performances mainly by roundtables of reporters and pundits discussing prominent exchanges.
Dana Bash, CNN’s chief political correspondent, picked up on a particularly noteworthy comment Trump made almost under his breath early in the debate.
Clinton finished a response to an exchange about her email servers by saying “it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”
Trump retorted, as he walked back toward his chair, “because you’d be in jail.” The crowd first reacted with cheers, then with boos.
After the debate, Bash said to Wolf Blitzer and John King, “not to sound too corny, but what makes this country different from countries with dictators in Africa or Stalin or Hitler or any of those countries with dictators and totalitarian leaders, is that when they took over, they put their opponents in jail. To hear one presidential candidate, say, even if it was a flip comment, which it was, ‘you’re going to be in jail’ to another presidential candidate in the debate stage in the United States of America?”
“Stunning. Just stunning.”
Vladimir Putin is famous for jailing political opponents, often with deadly effect. Joseph Stalin jailed millions in gulags on a much larger scale and with equally fatal results. Persecution of political opponents in Nazi Germany is the subject of intensive research.
“I will jail my political opponent if I win.” Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot, Mugabe, the 2016 GOP presidential nominee.
— Avinash Kunnath (@avinashkunnath) October 10, 2016
Joy Reid, a political correspondent on MSNBC, made another comparison to political retribution in Africa:
Not to get too dramatic with it but you know my father came to this country from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We weren’t that close but we definitely talked about the Congo and the politics there. We need to not speed past the point that an American candidate for president threatened to jail his political opponent. This is something that Human Rights Watch, that Amnesty International is investigating in the Democratic Republic of Congo right now. Right now. Because as of this summer, a political opponent of the current leader was put in jail on charges. This happens in Malaysia, this happens in Uganda. This does not happen in the United States of America.
Others made made similar observations on Twitter:
— Jake Horowitz (@jacobdhorowitz) October 10, 2016
Wow. @DanaBashCNN nails it. War torn, corrupt dictators put their political opponents in jail. Not democracies like America.
— Kevin Grandia (@kgrandia) October 10, 2016