I'm not a fan of Trump. Like many people, I view him as a narcissistic, shallow bigot - an egotist, a con man, a born liar and exaggerator: a bankrupt Houdini of real estate who belongs in jail for felonies like his "university" rather than a comfortable bed in the White House.
And yet... It's extraordinary. The media doesn't love him, but it sure as hell gloms on to him! He's compulsively watchable as he slips his chains of decorum and reason. He's not a Hitler - who had at least served in combat and knew about bloodletting for real, not as a fantasy game. But Trump's banter - his conversational style, like a regular guy in the bar who begs attention for his boasts, his braggadocio and wild stories: his banter becomes addictive viewing. It's like watching one's favorite villain in a soap. Every day the same, and yet different.
Difficult, though, to imagine millions of Americans casting an actual vote for him as our commander in chief. Were it not for La Hillary.
How Hillary has managed to achieve the opposite - has cleared the bar instead of filling it - is a puzzle. Eight years ago it looked as if the women of America would, almost on their own, elect her their presidential nominee, so distinguished did she seem as a U.S. Senator and former First Lady. But now? Despite her subsequent accomplishments as U.S. Secretary of State on a global stage, she struggles against a tide of disaffection and distrust at home, fanned by those who hate her - even women! They don't like her schoolmarm-y voice, or her diminutive pantsuit style - or at least they don't like them enough to have her on twice. She doesn't play the saxophone, as her husband did, or gush. She has no story that connects with us or our aspirations beyond incremental improvements in our lives, and a steady hand - one that might not be so steady, healthwise.
So for those of us who are Democrats down to our bootstraps: que faire? How change the frog into a princess - and can it be done in time?
Seven weeks to go!
One way comes to mind, as I hear of bombings in Manhattan and stabbings in Minnesota: a Clinton Team.
Hillary, alone, hasn't the chutzpah, the energy, the political vision to marshal and inspire the collective spirit of America at this critical hour, facing the catastrophe of an ignoramus (in my view) posing as a leader of the right. So Hillary must, late in the day transform herself into Hillary the Team Leader.
America Strong: surely that must be her mantra in the wake of these latest bombings and threats to our democracy. America Strong - Stronger Together: just as, after the Marathon bombings, the people of Boston pulled together, refusing to give into collective hysteria or punitive grandstanding, but silently went about our business, mending the wounds to our community, and making sure life - moral life as well as economic life - went on, and justice was served in an exemplary trial, so that the world would see our values were unshaken.
America Strong: that surely must be a clarion call in these final weeks. Not Hillary the Lone Star Rider, the victim of every barb and homemade verbal bomb that Trumpers delight in throwing, but Hillary the Team Player. Hillary surrounded by men and women willing and anxious to work with her to make our country stronger - in environmental terms, in minimum wage levels, in more equitable taxation, in opportunities for students to learn without going bankrupt (or bankrupting their parents and grandparents); and above all, facing the many crises that will confront us in the coming years, from domestic threats to those abroad; from Isis to al Qaeda, Syria to North Korea, Russia to China.
Clinton as Team Leader, traveling with others as FDR once did on his campaign train, as a figure able to harness the collective energies of a future administration to keep American strong - stronger together.
More faces, in other words - more Americans we know and can trust as a team to do the right thing for our nation - rather than a rich man working for himself and his ego.
Team Clinton. Kaine, Kerry, Kennedy; Warren and Webb, Booker and Brown, Biden and Gore, McCauliffe and Manchin, Nelson and Nixon, Sanders and Wolf...
Not just teamwork but The Team. The Magnificent Seven, Eight, Ten, Ten Thousand - Tens of Millions of Us Americans. America Strong!
There will be more bombings - as in Europe. There are no magical solutions, whether walls or invective or incarceration. The bombers will most often be already among us, fueled by hate and psychopathia.
America Strong, then - America as a team. Not waiting for Houdini's next trick, but working and relying on each other as Americans - as combatants do in the military, as first responders, as we do in sport.
Team Clinton - not Lone Hillary. And it's not too late!
Nigel Hamilton is senior fellow in the McCormack Graduate School, UMass Boston