Friday night Hillary Clinton violated one of the fundamental rules of an election campaign: criticize your opponent, but never his or her voters. At a fundraiser she said that you could put half of Trump’s supporters into the ‘basket of deplorables,’ specifying the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamophobic among them. Although Clinton called her remark ‘grossly generalistic’ the damage was done, and Trump and his cronies capitalized by blaming her for insulting some 20% of the population. Hillary’s slip of the tongue, if that’s what it was, has been compared with Mitt Romney’s statement in 2012 that 47% of Americans would not vote for him because they only want ‘free stuff’ from the government. The comparison, however, is false, because what Mitt Romney said was untrue and what Clinton said is basically correct. Donald Trump is the Birther and Islamophoob in Chief of the United States, and his campaign has been racist, sexist and xenophobic since he announced his candidacy. The estimate that therein lays his attractiveness for 50% of his followers is probably on the low side.
Hillary Clinton’s generalization is damaging in a different way than Romney’s, whose bluntness established him as an elitist and a snob. She won’t lose any votes over her remark, because the people who it pertains to were not going to vote for her anyway, but her campaign will lose precious air time explaining her remarks. Other than Romney at the time, Clinton has been pro-active by stating that she ‘regrets’ what she said, albeit without issuing an apology, but she can still expect it to dominate today’s political talk shows, and that is unfortunate because at Wednesday’s ‘Commander in Chief’ forum Donald Trump said a number of outrageous things that otherwise would have gotten all of the attention. Just to cherry pick a few, Trump stated that US generals had been reduced to ‘rubble’ by the Obama administration, expressed his admiration for Putin’s leadership compared to Obama’s, and, most astoundingly, inferred from ‘body language’ of his national security briefers that Obama had ignored their advice. The latter is a serious violation of protocol and proves once more that he’s unfit for the office he’s seeking.
After the initial impression created by most of the press that Donald Trump had done well at the forum, partly because he is held to a very low standard, partly because moderator Matt Lauer asked him only softball questions, and partly because Hillary Clinton was grilled about her emails and had very little chance to talk about national security issues, it dawned on the media that Trump, being his unscripted self, had once again acted like the existential baboon that he his.
All of that would have been explored much deeper in today’s talk shows were it not for Hillary’s remark creating a distraction and getting in the way. She’s actually lucky – although the word is hardly appropriate – that today is 9/11 and that all the talk shows have been banned to the afternoon, where they have to compete with the opening of the American Football season.
After Donald Trump’s campaign appeared to be a total mess for quite a while it’s now time to ask some questions about Hillary Clinton’s campaign, for instance who, if anybody, is vetting her statements, and if he, she or they are aware of the basic rules they should operate by.