Hillary Clinton, they say, is the most qualified person ever to have run for the presidency. They are, of course, mistaken. But one week away from an election that, for once, really may prove to be the most important of our lives, what boggles the mind of those of us who are paying attention is just how terrible a candidate Hillary Clinton has proven to be.
It feels like years ago, but remember the primaries? Polls notwithstanding, Hillary’s supporters – the editorial board of The New York Times and the CNN talking head who slipped her debate questions so she could cheat against Bernie – argued that her awesome resume put her in a better position to take on Donald Trump in the fall. Yet here we are with national tracking polls in a dead heat or within the statistical margin of error, with Ohio firmly in the Trump column, Florida probably leaning the same way, and the whole thing probably coming down to a slim margin in Pennsylvania. And those polls don’t take the brand-new FBI EmailGate investigation into account. (At this writing, there’s one — and it shows Trump ahead.)
The Very Serious Democrats owe Bernie Sanders an apology.
Objectively speaking, Hillary ought to be wiping the floor with Trump. The man is a maniac. His campaign is a disaster. He doesn’t even have an organization. Why isn’t this race 65% to 35% in her favor?
To be fair, Trump isn’t totally stupid. Whether by scheming or luck, Trump has proven that free social media is much more effective than television advertising. He packaged crassness as authenticity. And he’s a master of crisis management, as seen when he nuked the open-mic “pussy grabbing” video by inviting Bill Clinton’s female accusers to attend the debate hours beforehand.
But those tricks ought not to be nearly enough to give Hillary a run for her money.
With the benefit of hindsight – and in the case of writers like yours truly, foresight – that Hillary Clinton would underperform was foreseeable well before she announced her run for president.
“Hillary is out of touch,” I wrote in May 2015. “She hasn’t been behind the wheel of an automobile for nearly 20 years, is a multi-multi-millionaire who nevertheless considered herself ‘dead broke’ and still believes that she and her husband are not among ‘the truly well off.’ … For a Democrat under heavy fire from her party’s progressive base — with Elizabeth Warren, Bill de Blasio and Bernie Sanders leading the charge — this stuff could be politically fatal.”
Right now, it really could.
Even if she wins next Tuesday, a second Clinton Administration will begin with zero mandate other than to be Not Trump. And there’s a serious risk Republicans will begin impeachment proceedings within her first year. And she could easily lose — which would put American democracy in grave peril. Heckuva job, Hillary!
When the political equivalent of the National Transportation Safety Board examines the train wreck of Hillary’s campaign — even if she wins, they’ll find that alienation from the electorate is but one of many unforced errors. Here’s my pre-mortality autopsy report:
Main Cause of Death: Failure to unify the Democratic Party. ClintonWorld snubbed Bernie Sanders and his supporters. This ain’t the 1990s, when Bill Clinton courted the corporate right because he knew he could take the liberal-progressive base for granted. Courting Republicans even before the convention was a major screw-up. Failing to seriously consider Bernie for veep, or even a cabinet appointment, doubled down on that mistake. Clinton operatives wouldn’t even let former Sanders workers volunteer for her campaign. Now the lefties are so pissed that not even Bernie himself can get them back. Many will stay home, leave the president box unticked or even vote for Trump next week.
Major Contributing Factor: Failure to articulate an affirmative policy agenda. You know what Donald Trump would do during his first 100 days: build the wall, mass deportations, ban Muslims, probably suspend the Constitution for some as yet undetermined pretext. What would Hillary Clinton’s first 100 days look like? I don’t know. And I’m a political junkie. No one else knows either. Here is what she has said, and she hasn’t said it very often: “I pledge that in my first 100 days as president, we will make the biggest investment in new good-paying jobs since World War II.” What kind of investment? How much? Where? How?
According to The Hill: “she has indicated that her first 100 days would include nominating women for half of her Cabinet positions, investing in renewable energy, setting stricter rules for health insurers and drugmakers, and pushing for greater protections for voting rights.” Zzzzzzz. Americans want their president to do two things: boost the economy and keep them safe. Trump owns the national security debate. But she still hasn’t told us how she’ll put us back to work, get us a raise, or fix the retirement system to account for the big switch from 40-hour-a-week wage labor to self-employment. Her entire campaign boils down to: I’m Not Trump.
Additional Contributing Factors:
A crazy penchant for secrecy and cover-ups that gave us EmailGate.
Unbridled lust for corporate and dictator cash funneled via influence peddling through the Clinton Foundation, up until the last second before she formally declared she was running. Why didn’t she give it a rest after 2008?
Incrementalism. It’s impossible to get excited about someone who thinks $12 an hour would mark a major increase in the federal minimum wage – after states and municipalities have already gone to $15. Remember, this is a change year.
She still won’t apologize for voting to invade Iraq. Sure, she says she got it wrong. “But Clinton has never explicitly said what, exactly, she did wrong,” Scott Beauchamp wrote in The Atlantic. “From Clinton herself, there has been a demand for nuance in discussing her vote, a clarification of her intentions, and plenty of blame heaped on the Bush administration. But without a clear explanation of what her mistake was and how she plans to avoid repeating it, what does an apology actually mean?”
(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. Support independent political cartooning and writing — support Ted on Patreon.)