Trump’s messy fall giving Clinton too much of an easy ride
Letting Democratic candidate evade all criticism is not good for her or the country
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton doesn’t even need an oppo-research team digging up nasty stuff about her opponent’s record. She just has to stand there and wait for Trump to open his mouth. Photograph: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
Hillary didn’t hang her head and cry, after she shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. She went outside with a big smile and sampled chocolate truffles served on silver and gold trays by a local sweets shop.
After getting steadily bolder at rallies about puncturing her former friend Donald Trump, Clinton channelled Johnny Cash’s song and delivered a coup de grace so devastating that commentators predicted it will be known simply as the Reno speech.
A senior citizen in the crowd raised his fist as he passed the press pen at Truckee Meadows Community College, bragging that Clinton had kicked Trump in a highly sensitive place.
“Of course there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment,” Clinton said. “But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.”
In this insane campaign year, Clinton doesn’t even need an oppo-research team digging up nasty stuff about her opponent’s record. She just has to stand there and wait for Trump to open his mouth. Or wait for his wacky entourage to weigh in. Asked on CNN about his undulating immigration position, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson offered this classic bit of spin: “He hasn’t changed his position on immigration. He’s changed the words that he’s saying.”
When Anderson Cooper asked Trump on Thursday if he was embracing the alt-right movement, Trump replied : “I don’t even know – nobody even knows what it is.”
In the same way that the neocons used the uninformed George W Bush as a host body to instigate the Iraq War, the alt-right has staged an Occupy Trump movement, purloining his unmoored campaign as brazenly as cat burglars.
“Racists now call themselves ‘racialists’,” Clinton said. “White supremacists now call themselves ‘white nationalists.’ The paranoid fringe now calls itself alt-right. But the hate burns just as bright.”
She read some headlines from Breitbart, including “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” and, to the gasps of audience members, “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield.”
She noted that Trump has retweeted from white supremacists and she ran through his greatest hits of bigotry. If Clinton had a normal opponent, her vulnerabilities would be more glaring. She would have spent the week getting peppered with questions about how the FBI discovered 14,900 more emails from her private server, which are going to drip out during the autumn.
But Clinton does not have a normal opponent. She has one who manages to self-destruct in every news cycle. So instead she was soaring above her own egregious messes and gamboling through Trump’s messes.
In Reno, instead of having to talk about the email marked “C” for confidential, she recalled the Justice Department’s housing discrimination suit against the real estate developer and his father in the 1970s, charging that the applications of black and Latino residents were “marked with ‘C’ – ‘C’ for coloured.”
After the Monica Lewinsky affair, she deflected questions about Bill’s cheesy behaviour by summoning up the spectre of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Now she deflects questions about the emails and foundation ethical tangles by summoning up the spectre of the Vast Alt-Right Conspiracy.
Thanks to extremists
It’s a symbiotic relationship: The Clintons benefit, hailed by many Democrats and Republicans who see them as the white hats who will keep out brownshirts. The alt-right is jubilant at being given a platform to be sulphurous. “Thanks for the free PR Hillary,” tweeted a self-described alt-righter. “The #alt-right will long remember the day you helped make us into the real right.”
The only one who doesn’t benefit is Trump, who has been seduced by the roar of the crowd and hijacked by a dark force he doesn’t seem to fathom. The stain will extend beyond a campaign loss to damage his business brand.
Clinton is more easily able to continue to cold-shoulder the press on serious issues. When reporters approached her after her Reno speech, she ignored their questions and told them to have some of the sweets served up. “Love the truffles,” she said in a let-them-eat-chocolate moment.
Many people believe Trump is so dangerous that criticism of Clinton should be suppressed, that her malfeasance is so small compared to his that it is not worth mentioning. But letting her rise above everything for the good of the country is not good for the country.