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Opinion: All hail Shade Queen Hillary Clinton

Opinion: All hail Shade Queen Hillary Clinton
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump after the final presidential debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday. (Gary He / EPA)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, The Times’ letters editor, and it is Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. This will all be over soon, dear readers; in the meantime, bear with me. Here goes.

Hillary Clinton showed up at the debate with Donald Trump on Wednesday — as in that Hillary Clinton, the calculating, maneuvering, ruthlessly intelligent politician so feared and caricatured by her conservative critics all these years. And she made her 2016 public debut just in time to spark one final Trumpian tantrum.

This, says Opinion contributing writer Melissa Batchelor Warnke, is the Hillary Clinton America deserves, not the smiling everywoman of the first debate or the calm, poised presence in the second. In Las Vegas on Wednesday, we saw someone who was rightfully tired of sharing debate stages with a incoherent xenophobe for nearly five hours. Batchelor Warnke writes:

And so, finally, voters got the Shade Queen that America deserves. Somehow, subtly and yet repeatedly, Clinton released her staid political professional veneer.

When Clinton spoke about the sexual assault allegations against Trump, she said: “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere that doesn’t know what that feels like.”

Cynics will say that was a political calculation to connect with undecided women, and it may well have been. But if it’s easy to fake compassion, it’s harder to fake spitting-mad, even if the words are scripted. As women, we’re taught that it’s proper to absorb slights without returning them. For many of us, anger comes out after we’ve burnt through everything else.

Later in the debate, Trump talked over her answer on Social Security, remarking “such a nasty woman.” The Internet exploded. An hour later, his comment had been commercialized, in the form of T-shirts, pins, hats and coffee mugs touting the consumer’s “nasty woman”-ness.

Having a man meet the force of her long-suppressed and hard-earned righteous anger with dismissive condescension? Her calculation was correct. There was not a woman anywhere who didn’t know what that felt like.

The night was peppered with zingers. Her response to Trump’s unprecedented refusal to state that he’d accept the election results? Calm, but pointed: “Let me respond to that because that’s horrifying.” Her response to Trump’s comments about Putin? Crisp, and biting: Putin would “rather have a puppet as the president of the United States.” ...

In the first debate, Clinton proved she could be as gentle a woman as the country’s men wanted; in the second debate, she’d proved she could be as measured a leader as the country’s people needed; and in the third, she proved she could be as authentically annoyed as she deserved.

In three acts, Clinton demonstrated the unlearning process that guides many American women’s experiences: performing for men, leading for others, living true-to-self.

We’ve never witnessed such a compressed, gendered metamorphosis in American political life. For many women, Clinton’s movement toward her own power is a historical moment. We’ll remember where we were when fire took our shape.

» Click here to read more.

“Little Trump” showed up at Wednesday’s debate too. He wasn’t there the whole time, says The Times’ editorial board. For the first 20 minutes or so Trump appeared relatively calm and engaged — then, what Newt Gingrich has called the “little Trump” emerged with a vengeance. He called Clinton a liar, a criminal and, memorably, “such a nasty woman.” Says the editorial board: “Trump went into the final debate a grievously wounded candidate. That is also the way he left it.” L.A. Times

More from Opinion on the Trump trainwreck: Max Boot picks up disturbing echoes of Nazism from Trump’s tweets. Clinton dodged a bullet on gun control in the debate. No, what Al Gore did in 2000 bears no resemblance to Trump’s threat not to concede to Clinton. Trump’s talk of a “rigged” election is dangerous demagoguery. Read these election pieces and much more at latimes.com/opinion.

There’s more on the ballot than just Clinton and Trump — a lot more. The Times’ editorial board researched nearly three dozen races — interviewing candidates and holding the ballot initiatives’ fine print under a microscope — and made recommendations for contests ranging from president down to local measures and judges. Find a complete list of endorsements here.

Even for Republican obstructionists, this is bad: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has promised that his GOP colleagues will be “united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.” Before, Republicans had invented the rule that a sitting president in the final year of his term should refrain from filling a seat on the Supreme Court; now they’re insisting that only Republican presidents be allowed to make court appointments. Huh? L.A. Times

Assuming Clinton is allowed to appoint judges, she has plenty of work ahead as president. UC Irvine law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky points out there are three justices over the age of 78 on the Supreme Court, and who replaces them will likely make major decisions on affirmative action, abortion rights, gun control, campaign finance and separation of church and state. L.A. Times

Her mother-in-law died, and she couldn’t be more annoyed. Amy Koss’ husband lost his mother but left much of the postmortem rummaging up to his wife. Koss, a self-described “unsentimental person,” wasn’t moved by encountering all the old photos and personal tchotchkes she had to sort through after her mother-in-law’s death. “The moral of this cautionary tale is don’t alienate or outlive your friends and relations, or maybe, get rid of your stuff while you still can,” Koss writes. L.A. Times

The last, absurd gasp of pot prohibition in California? Someone actually wrote this in a major newspaper as an argument against Proposition 64: “It’s bad enough that Californians believe they can tax themselves into prosperity. A majority seems to think that a state can thrive with a burgeoning population of legally sanctioned stoners. Good luck with that.” Sacramento Bee

Reach me: paul.thornton@latimes.com

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