Saturday, September 10, 2016

Race for the White House- Volume 89

58 Days Until Election Day

"A Basket of Deplorables."

That ought to be what this election is labeled, considering the choices. Instead, Democrat Hillary Clinton used this remark last night at a New York fundraiser to describe what she said was half of Donald Trump's supporters, and I think it was a serious gaffe for her. Just think what kind of negative press Mitt Romney's "47 percent" comment got in 2012. What was she thinking? Today, she was forced to walk back her comments and say she "grossly generalized" and that not as  many of half of Trump supporters are deplorable.

Let me continue to say that I expect Clinton will ultimately defeat Trump, and probably pretty handily, but there is no doubt that her campaign has been fairly inept since a perceived successful convention, and the polls, both national and state, have become amazingly close, or at least closer than they should be. Clinton has been unable to shake the same sort of public relations problems that have dogged her for nearly 25 years now. The more people see of her, the less they like her. Against a strong Republican candidate, she might just be playing out the homestretch now. Against Trump, she should still win, despite her best efforts to throw it away, but none of this bodes well for how she will be received as President.

Let me also be clear about something. Donald Trump is deplorable and so is his campaign. Many, many of his ardent supporters are deplorable people, at least at it relates to civic life in America, and the same can be said for many ardent Hillary Clinton supporters as well. This is an unfortunate election and a near tragic circumstance for America, but this is going to be over in mere weeks, and as a country, we are going to have our work cut out for us in finding a way to get past this and hopefully find greater unity.

A lot of decent people this November will vote for Hillary Clinton and a lot of decent people will vote for Donald Trump. Saying that large groups of American citizens represent the "deplorable" is something that should be avoided. It only causes divisions to be greater and leads to the kind of hyper partisan distrust that has brought us to this situation. Trump has perfected this kind of demonization, and Clinton, who has for decades been incredibly dismissive of those on the other side of the aisle, has proven again that she can play the same game. As an American, I know both choices are unacceptable to me and unworthy of a vote. In the meantime, I think Trump will score some political points against Hillary Clinton for what she said. It can be easily exploited, and the facts that Trump has said worse, or is held to a lower standard, is somewhat irrelevant. Hillary Clinton will be painted as having insulted millions of Armed Forces members, veterans, small business people, families, and others. I just hope that all of the people, including the good ones, who will vote for Trump or Clinton, even as the lesser of two evils, will take a moment to consider how deplorable both choices are, but especially the dishonest, cynical, and hate-filled campaign of Trump.

It was depressing this week to watch a Town Hall forum on NBC, moderated by Matt Lauer, who was widely panned himself. It was called the "Commander in Chief" forum and featured questions by retired military personnel. I knew I disliked both candidates going into the event, and I disliked them both even more afterwards. Regardless of what I think personally, as a political observer, they were both terrible at the forum.

Clinton had the first half hour, and substantively, put herself in a box, before ever taking office, in saying ground troops were off the table as it related to fighting ISIS in the Middle East. More immediate as it relates to the campaign though, she struggled once again, and gave lawyerly excuses for her ongoing email problem.  She just cannot help but be ultra on the defensive whenever questions about these matters and to basically sneer at anyone who dares question her about it, as she was by a retired military man, who asked a very pointed question about her corrupting national security. In no way does she have the political skills of her husband or the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Then it was Trump's turn, and while he can be more glib, and by some standards more "charming" than Clinton, I thought was even worse. His answers had no substance whatsoever, and he was given a pass by Lauer in his often repeated claim that he always opposed the Iraq War (which is something I very much would not want in a President.) He defended a controversial past Tweet about sexual assault in the military and basically just did what he has done for decades; speak as a con artist. Whatever he thinks someone wants to hear, as long as they appear respectful or possibly supportive of him, he will say it. The most striking part of his performance was the way he continues to defend Russian leader Vladimir Putin to the hilt. He is absolutely in love with Putin and one has to wonder that if he is not directly an agent of Putin in this election, if the former KGB agent has brainwashed him unwillingly to do his bidding. Putin can just do no wrong to Trump, simply because Putin once complimented him. It is very, very suspicious and I certainly think disqualifying for Trump. Hillary Clinton ought to focus more about this aspect and far less about attacking American supporters of a major party nominee.

 Other stuff happened this week, but it hurts my brain to even try to recall it. There was a bit of a brouhaha regarding Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, who was slammed for a "gaffe" that to me was like a three on the gaffe scale. I cannot believe it got as much attention as it did, when Trump serves up multiple 10s on a weekly basis. I have come to the point where I do not think I can actually cast a protest vote for Gary Johnson. Instead I will likely write someone in (either Evan McMullin or Mitt Romney), but I thought the issue of Johnson temporarily blanking out on what Aleppo is on while on "Morning Joe" was overdone. For one thing, he is an isolationist and I doubt very many of the voters who the media think will hold it against him know what Aleppo is either. He seemed knowledgeable enough on the overall issue of the Syrian refugee crisis, but when asked about "Aleppo" thought it was an acronym, or maybe a Marx Brother. I can accept that. I am sure Trump has no idea what it is either, and if Clinton forgot, she might blame a past concussion. Nonetheless, lots of pundits declared that Johnson was "done for", as if he ever even began. I do maybe hope he polls high enough to get in the debates, and I think that even this negative press coverage might help him with his name recognition. As Lindsey Graham said though, his answer might have set back the cause of marijuana legalization, that Johnson so supports.

Technically, voters are now voting for the next President, at least in North Carolina, where absentee ballots have begun going out. I think that is ridiculous. Two weeks before the election ought to be ample time for people to vote, not two months. Democrats want as long of a window as possible though. There are certainly more opportunities for mischief. Whether people vote today or in 58 days, the choices, are either deplorable, highly flawed, or plain quixotic. It remains sad that we are this point.

Fifteen years ago tomorrow, something else happened to America that was tragic and sad. I remember it very well, and never thought I would find myself in a position of not being able to support a Republican nominee for President, and in fact am focused on wanting him to be solidly rejected. I am glad we had the President we did back then. The Mayor of New York City offered some pretty strong leadership back then too. It's sad to see what has become of him. Maybe he is ill.

The lessons of what happened on 9/11/01 and what they mean for America and the world should never be forgotten. The country got it in 2004, but as the memories faded, America has gone in a different direction to the point where we now have two horrible choices. Minus a miracle, one of them will go on to win though, and all of America should pray for them and for the country.