Media columnist David Zurawik discusses Clinton and Trump town hall meeting debate that's set for Sunday. He talks about how television town hall meetings debates are so phony. (Kevin Richardson, Baltimore Sun video)

Do you recall as a child resisting when you were given two or more options, neither of which you found palatable? For example, do your homework now or no television tonight (insert digital device in place of television if you were born within 20 years of this millennium). If you were like me, you complained, perhaps even rebelled, when faced with such distasteful choices.

A funny thing happened to me in the last five decades, however: I grew up. Growing up means being confronted regularly with choices that you may not especially like, but have to make for the greater good — like choosing to work late, or spend Thanksgiving with your spouse's family or forgo dessert.


Many people don't like the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election. I speak to those of you who complain regularly about the failings of these candidates, those of you who believe that she is dishonest and he is unfit to be president. Most respectfully, to you I say: too bad. Life isn't easy; get over it. You need to make a difficult choice knowing that you will not be entirely satisfied with the person you vote for.

Here it is only fair I admit my bias. I think Hillary Clinton has been less than forthcoming about her e-mails and perhaps other things. This is a definite failing on her part. On the other hand, I think Donald Trump is monumentally unqualified to be president for many reasons. It is not his political philosophy so much that I have issues with, because I don't believe he actually has one. It is not even so much his lack of knowledge of the things a president must know as much as it is his astounding lack of concern for not knowing those things. I understand you think things in the country are not going as they should and want a change in how things are done. But if you don't like the results of your knee surgery, you don't effect positive change by having a podiatrist perform the next operation — especially one who says he knows more about knees than orthopedists.

What a president says really matters, whether he claims it is:

An intended joke (mimicking the movements of a disabled reporter);

Some sort of sarcasm (suggesting the Second Amendment people will see to it that Hillary does not appoint anti-gun justices);

Something he didn't really mean (claiming it's right to punish women who have abortions);

Something just plain crazy (stating that Ted Cruz's father was involved in the Kennedy assassination or his idiotic, finally abandoned birther statements about President Barack Obama);

Something he insincerely apologizes for (his recent suggestion that because he is a "star," he can grope women with impunity);

Something he does not apologize for (claiming John McCain is no hero because he was a war prisoner);

Something overtly racist (saying a judge cannot fairly decide his civil case because the judge's father was Mexican);

Something overtly misogynist (Hillary Clinton's unpresidential look, Carly Fiorina's face, Alicia Machado's weight and so on);

Or something irrationally defensive (attacking Captain Humayun Khan's parents).

It matters what the president says because his or her words can cause domestic crises or catastrophic foreign incidents.

So there you have it: one candidate who has been loose with the truth, and another who is much further removed from the truth and also lacks the basic qualities of diplomacy and restraint that successful presidents must possess. (Neither the Libertarian nor Green Party candidates are worth your serious consideration, and you know it.) Now I hope I am not bursting any bubbles when I tell you that many politicians lie. Hillary's husband surely did, and for those of you who venerate Ronald Reagan, Google "Iran Contra." We can debate their reasons and excuses for doing so, but in the end, we live with it and them.


Complain all you want about the choices, but here is the key: One candidate is better than the other, or, if you prefer, one is much worse than the other. You may not like Hillary Clinton, but she has an idea about how to be president. Have Donald Trump's words and actions made you confident that he does? If not, get over how you feel about Hillary and vote.

Steven P. Grossman is the Dean Julius Isaacson Professor, University of Baltimore School of Law; his email is sgrossman@ubalt.edu.