2016: The Inconceivable Election

These days, dinner conversations with friends and family usually end up at one topic in particular: the presidential election. How can anyone vote for Donald Trump, they will ask, and then add How can we let Hillary Clinton become president? That’s true of both conservative and liberal dinner guests and relatives, by the way. Usually I beg off answering, telling them I’m off the clock, and how ’bout them Dodgers anyway, eh? Just a half-game out from the lead

The other day, though, a discussion with two friends about the need to choose between the only two candidates with any chance of winning led me to one particular analogy. Before we get to that, though, Michael Ramirez encapsulated the choice brilliantly in this editorial cartoon:


Basically, it feels as though we have two bitter chalices in front of us. The thought of choosing between them reminded me of a classic scene from a classic film, The Princess Bride, when Westley challenges Vizzini to a battle of wits to the death. In my column for The Week today, I reimagine the dialogue for the 2016 election:

“The candidate in front of you has played a fool,” Vizzini declares, “and only a great fool would choose to partake of foolishness. So I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of you.”

“You’ve made your decision, then?” Westley replies.

“Not hardly,” Vizzini retorts. “Deadly choices come from corruption, and the other candidate corrupted her office of public trust, enriching herself and her family. She also started an air war in North Africa that allowed pirates and terrorists unfettered access to the Mediterranean,” Vizzini would add, “which is one of the classic blunders, as you know. One cannot trust such a candidate, as I do not trust you, so I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of me.”

“There are a couple of Dixie cups on the side,” Westley points out.

“There isn’t any wine in them.”

“True enough,” Westley admits. “But you’re just stalling now.”

“You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you?” Vizzini erupts. “One bested my Republican field, which means it’s exceptionally strong (at least when it was bottled), and you may be relying on its strength to put the iocane in front of you. The other bested the Socialist, which means it’s clever — and you may have been clever in putting the wine in front of me.”

How does it end? Let’s just say there’s a surprise or two for fans of the film. And probably none for the voters who have to choose between the two.

For those who have not seen the actual classic duel of wits, watch the whole film — what the heck is wrong with you? But enjoy this clip in the meantime: