Saturday, September 03, 2016

Race for the White House- Volume 88

65 Days Until Election Day

Once again, I am sort of at a loss for words to describe this week in Presidential politics. Labor Day Weekend has arrived, and at this traditional campaign milepost, Republicans and for that matter everyone else, have to be wondering just what would be going on in this race if the GOP had nominated someone actually capable of winning.

By most accounts, this was another poor week for Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, who remains as well under the radar as any Presidential nominee in modern history. As long as Donald Trump continues to dominate the news cycles though, it really does not matter. She is almost certainly going to win. However, the polls this past week have closed a bit. Democrats should absolutely fret why they are not up more and pray there is not something going on in American politics, as it has been for the past year plus, that has the potential of shocking almost everyone.

Yesterday afternoon, the FBI notes of Hillary Clinton's interview with investigators leaked. They were not at all aggressive in questioning her, which makes it pretty clear that a decision to not charge her had already been made, but the content of what she said is very damaging, or at least would be under ordinary circumstances. Her statements contradicted many of the righteous public statements she made when this story first broke and on numerous occasions she stated she had no memory or knowledge of specific information. She stated she did not realize that C stood for Classified and even said that she may not remember having some sort of ethics training because of her 2012 concussion. Wow. I have been on the record stating that the alt-right delusions about Clinton's health are ridiculous, but she tried to use it herself. I can only imagine what a remotely credible Republican candidate could do with that revelation. There really is nothing to stop Trump now from claiming that Hillary Clinton has "brain damage" and cannot be trusted. Ultimately, it probably will not matter, but her campaign had to have dreaded this story breaking, knowing how much the Trumpists were focusing on her health. For the record, I do not think Hillary Clinton has any sort of brain damage. I just think that she, like her husband, and like her general election opponent, is a shameless liar.

Along those lines, this was another absolutely bizarre week for the Trump campaign on several fronts, but especially related to immigration. Last week, he had started a dramatic "pivot" away from a hardline position on deportations, and then a backlash developed, and mixed messages were given. That continued this week. The fact is that Trump's position has indeed softened, but his rhetoric has hardened, thus confusing everyone, and not giving himself any chance to win over swing voters. In fact, half of Trump's Hispanic Advisory Council resigned this week after his immigration speech in Arizona.

Before that speech on Wednesday though, Trump somehow found himself in Mexico City meeting with the President of Mexico. It was a risky move for the Trump campaign to accept such an invitation, that came practically at the last minute, but they have to walk away thinking they got the best of the exchange. So what if President Pena Nieto claimed Trump lied about their discussion of the wall. Everyone knows Trump is a liar and the President of Mexico, who came away from this looking very weak, did not object when Trump claimed they did not discuss who would pay for the wall during their meeting, at a joint press conference afterwards. Just the fact that Trump, who looked quite subdued at the moment, had a joint press conference with a foreign leader, is a "victory" for his campaign, elevating him to potential world leader status. The bar was set very low for Trump in this meeting to not embarrass himself, and since that did not appear to happen, Trump fans were ecstatic. On one level, it looked like Trump had backed away from demanding that Mexico pay for a wall, but the silence and complicity of the Mexican President did nothing in the moment to politically harm Trump. What was the Mexican President thinking? Just plain dumb.

Then, that night in Phoenix, Trump gave what sounded like a very hardline speech on immigration. The details no longer involve immediate mass deportations, but his position of not giving any chance of legal status for anyone currently in the country illegally, is one that will make it hard to ever win many Latino votes. The Trump campaign does not seem to care though. I do not know how much they actually think they can get out of the African-American community either, despite the fact that Trump spoke this morning to a black church in Detroit.

So, there we have it. Hillary Clinton continues to be scarce on the campaign trail, while bad news about her ethical past continues to surface. Donald Trump continues to dominate the headlines, for better or worse, and since the dynamics of the race from the organizational standpoint and polling in almost all key states are against him, mostly for worse. The polls have gotten a bit closer though, which gives hope to people who actually think Trump deserves to win. If there ever are debates, there will be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide for either candidate. My suspicion is that Trump will find himself utterly embarrassed in the settings, based on his thin and ever-changing views on policy matters.

Labor Day is coming up and the campaign will soon be over. If the Republican nominee were instead John Kasich or Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush, this would be an entirely different race altogether, and the near future would have brought about a very different and stronger country.


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