I think that's a reasonable, however inelegant, take on this fall's electoral fun -- whose elements I suppose I need not summarize.
We shake our heads in bewilderment. It's come to this, really? The brains of the Founding Fathers and the blood and toil of those who followed them -- reduce to this moment, and to the question of the moment: Which of two political misfits gets to run the American show for a few years?
Er ... yes. It does more or less come down to that. But that shouldn't lead us to deduce from this campaign season the final ruin of America. "There is a lot of ruin in a nation," the great Adam Smith is reported to have replied when a friend frantically entered Smith's drawing room proclaiming Britain's doom after Gen. Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga.
It sits poorly, all the same, with those who yearn for ordered freedom and honorable government to contemplate the present choice: Donald Trump as the agent of rescue from the clutches of maybe the most self-involved politician in the land -- one who, all too evidently, wants to be president because she wants to be president.
The main problem with Hillary Clinton isn't her backstage machinations; it's her second-rate-ness as a public figure. The admission is hard to make, in that she may actually win the presidency. She demonstrates no gifts for leadership; she drives away rather than attracts. She seems to lack ideas as to what America needs (except herself as president): making speeches, proposing laws, meeting and greeting and taking her chair at the top of the table. She doesn't lay out visions; she chirps and chatters. That's no slam on female orators. The titanic Margaret Thatcher hardly ever said anything not worth weighing, whether for agreement or disagreement.
Clinton's mounting challenges over past emails stem, apparently, from a well-developed personal habit of acting on what seems to help Clinton, to the exclusion of all other courses. Her strategy, when she guesses wrong, is to brass it out: "Don't dare question me: I'm the heir to the throne." Modesty, we could all probably agree, is not Clinton's biggest asset.
What's that you say? Donald Trump is fundamentally no wiser than she, no more steeped in political and philosophical arcana? I'll buy that one, up to a certain point, with two reservations: 1) Trump's lifespan in politics has been a lot shorter than hers, affording him scanter exposure to ideas, and 2) a becoming number of his advisers and counselors are halfway sane in the political sense, unlike the way-left-wing Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two counselors and enablers to Clinton.
Again, I venture the not-too-far-out judgment: Argh!
What's likely to happen if Clinton wins, as the pollsters and prognosticators seem to fancy? What tricks will Clinton, Warren and Sanders try to bring off? So far to the political left is this ensemble, with no visible interest in non-left-wing solutions, that nothing of importance is likely to happen under a Clinton regime. It's thought that Republicans will probably retain control of the House and perhaps the Senate, as well. That means a standoff -- and maybe that is the best indicated outcome -- unless Clinton adopts, through practice in the mirror, a sympathy she has never shown for ordered liberty, local rights, and traditional standards of behavior.
The national Democrats don't think much of, or even much about, ordered liberty. Clinton's ability to marshal them away from left-wing, pro-heavy-government stances on energy and taxation cannot be overestimated: the less so if the issue of the day -- emails and the FBI -- comes to dominate her tenure.
Trusting Clinton's word is not the country's fallback position. And that may be less our fault than hers, on account of her apparently shallow acquaintance with the reasons America's first president (per Parson Weems' telling) might have fessed up to the cherry tree incident. Those reasons would be, for instance: duty's call; a sense of destiny as more than just the achievement of an ancient ambition; a sense of honor; and deep love of the higher things in life, as distinguished sharply from the lower.
Anyway, here we go. We'll see soon enough.