As the polls have been tightening, again, a number of my friends who have been freaking out about it. And then, right on cue, Michael Cohen over at the Boston Globe wrote an opinion piece entitled “Panicked Liberals are Petrified.” In the article, Cohen suggests that it’s not time to panic yet, and sets forth a number of reasons in question-and-answer style format. And it really isn’t time to panic yet. The race is much closer than it should be, but in the end it will only be the final result that counts.
Both candidates haven’t had very good weeks. Speaking at the LGBT for Hillary Gala in New York City on Sept. 9, 2016, Hillary Clinton made her comment about “half” of Trump’s voters being in a “basket of deplorables.” And then she had her pneumonia episode during which she almost fainted. For his part, Donald Trump decided to leave the birther movement a few days ago, of which he was practically the CEO. Now he thinks that somehow this outrageous reversal is not going to follow him. Let’s take this issue by issue:
Basket of Deplorables
Who speaks like that? Hillary Clinton is a professional. She should know much better than that. Now, some of my “liberal” friends have noted that deplorable is not a noun. Using a phrase like this is – how can one put this? – deplorable. Merriam-Webster defines “deplorable” as “lamentable; deserving censure or contempt.”
In short, it’s not a way that you want to define a group of voters, whatever their shortcomings might be.
There are some pundits who’ve argued that this wasn’t a mistake, that this was more of an “intentional” gaffe that Hillary wanted to make. I don’t know about that. But frankly, it’s not likely to hurt her much, as the people in the cohort she was describing were definitely not going to vote for her anyway, and the few undecideds left out there aren’t likely to be sufficiently offended for it to matter.
Still, it was a very weird episode and a little too reminiscent of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent remark” in 2012.
Birther Movement Reversal
Boy, Trump must really hold us all out to be extremely gullible if he thinks that this one is going to pass muster, even with his own crowd. Trump tacked the following on to the end of a campaign appearance with military veterans at his new hotel in downtown Washington: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”
Whoah there Kemosabe! Not so fast! Trump has been riding this horse since 2011, and has for all practical purposes been leading the cavalry charge on it. He doesn’t get to change horses in the middle of the stream without explanation.
Predictably, the Congressional Black Caucus wasn’t buying Trump’s birther turnaround. I don’t think the rest of Black America is going to be buying it either.
Then, to compound his error, Trump tried – in an attempt that can only be branded as completely ludicrous – to pin the origin of the birther movement on Hillary Clinton. ABC News actually fact-checked this claim, which act alone gives the idea more credibility than it deserves.
Why We Shouldn’t Panic
I know that it’s absurd that this is even a close race. There is something so seriously wrong with America that even after Hillary is elected, we are all collectively going to have to address.
With respect to Trump, the American electorate is divided between those people who find him “liberating” and “refreshing” and those of us who think he’s a completely unqualified lunatic. There ain’t much in the middle. Luckily, those of us who think he’s a completely unqualified lunatic are still in the majority. (Not by much, but just enough.) This is a “hard ceiling” that I don’t think Trump is going to be able to make any kind of dent in.
Then there are the Hillary haters who think that she’s school-marmish and untrustworthy and for whom she is like nails on a chalkboard. There’s a lot of these people, but they are not yet a majority. And then there are a number of people who aren’t very excited about Hillary but still recognize that she is by far the most qualified candidate in the race. Some of these people are Republicans. In short, her ceiling is not as hard as the Donald’s is.
We still have the Presidential debates to come, and while Hillary is not the showman that Trump is, she is so much more substantive than he could ever be. In lengthy one-on-one debates, she will likely acquit herself well – Lord knows, she has enough experience in these formats – and while the Donald will have his wise-cracking moments, he will ultimately prove that Emperor really does have no clothes.
One can only hope and pray.
In any case, I’m not hitting the panic button yet. If Trump were to get elected President, we can then really start to worry about the demise of Western civilization. The Roman Empire redux. Much more likely, Clinton wins a narrow victory, and then we have to deal with the reality of a deeply divided electorate where both sides basically hate each other, and address the question of whether any kind of repair is conceivably possible.
“God” help all of us, because irrespective of the outcome, we’re going to need all the help we can get.