The world is collapsing into chaos. Britain is leaderless, and no one has the faintest idea what's going to happen next. The European Union might crumble. Islamic State is executing fresh terrorist attacks every week. Vladimir Putin is rattling his sword, and things are getting ugly in the South China Sea.
Of course you'd never know these things from the U.S. election campaign, where the main issues have been whether one candidate would escape criminal indictment, and whether the other could be deposed at the upcoming convention because he's clearly unfit for office.
How I long for the days when the United States, if not liked, was at least respected for providing an anchor of stability in the world.
No more. Now all that stands between us and the abyss is Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most flawed and least likeable presidential candidate of recent times, except for the other one.
Watching Barack Obama endorse Hillary this week was painful. It reminded me of how good a politician he is and how awful she is. He is loose and jokey in front of a crowd; she is stiff and robotic, with a fake exaggerated enthusiasm that makes me want to cringe. He obviously can't stand her. He barely looked at her the entire time.
His words were warm but his body language was barely above freezing. "The fact is that Hillary is steady. And Hillary is true," he said. All the while she sat beside him with that big phony smile plastered on her face.
Hillary was having a bad day. The head of the FBI had just issued a damning statement on her mishandling of sensitive e-mails. He said that Ms. Clinton and her team were "extremely careless," and that any "reasonable person" would have known better.
The good news was that she escaped a criminal investigation. The bad news was that the negative campaign ads pretty much wrote themselves.
Honest? Trustworthy? Not so much.
Ms. Clinton has always stoutly maintained that the e-mail furor was a vast right-wing conspiracy to discredit her.
But now, it's clear she shaved the truth. "There were no security breaches," she once insisted. But there were. None of the e-mails contained classified information, she maintained. But many of them did, and she must have known it.
Even the Hillary-friendly media came down on her like a sack of cement. "The FBI director, James Comey, all but indicted her judgment and competence … in the kind of terms that would be politically devastating in a normal election year," said The New York Times. The Washington Post's fact-checker gave her four Pinocchios.
So let us praise the Lord for Donald Trump. Ms. Clinton had a bad week, but his was worse. Someone on his campaign team tweeted an image of Hillary with a pile of money and a six-pointed star that said "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!" This star either was or wasn't meant to be a Star of David, but at any rate it was a colossal blunder, and it set off a predictable kerfuffle. (Personally, I'm pretty sure it was a blunder). Accusations of anti-Semitism filled the air.
Mr. Trump could have changed the channel to the FBI. Instead, he doubled down. He claimed the star was copied from a U.S. sheriff's star and not a Star of David. He invoked his Jewish in-laws, and accused the media of racial profiling. On Wednesday, he tweeted out a picture of a Disney Frozen book with a six-pointed star on the cover. "Where is the outrage for this Disney book?" he fumed. To cap it off, he praised Saddam Hussein for being the kind of man who knew how to handle terrorists.
The trouble with Mr. Trump is that he's unglued. A Trump speech is among the more bizarre of life's experiences – a series of non sequiturs, laced with bitter complaints about the unfairness of the media.
This week he spent more time attacking the media than he did attacking Hillary. The only thing that matters in Trumpworld is what other people think of him.
If you're dismayed by this deeply dispiriting display of democracy at its worst, take heart. Although Hillary Clinton is among the most disagreeable and morally compromised presidential candidates in modern times, she is well within the normal parameters of bad. Mr. Trump would be a disaster of world-historic scale – worse than Brexit, worse than Islamic State, worse than an asteroid crashing into Earth and creating a nuclear winter for a generation to come.
Fortunately, his monumental narcissism practically guarantees that she will beat him. Failing that, I have stocked up on canned goods just in case.