There was one post yesterday, “The GOP Is Not America, Clinton Is Not Rubio:”
Greg Sargent interviews Hillary’s chief strategist about the coming general election, and finds him dismissive of claims that Donald Trump can repeat his march through the Republican primary. You never know — but it does seem obvious, except to the political pundits completely flabbergasted by Trump’s rise, that the general election is going to be a very different story. For the truth is that Trump’s Republican rivals fought with both hands tied behind their backs, and that just won’t happen from here on in.
Greg summarizes the case very well, but let me do it a bit differently. Think about Trump’s obvious weaknesses, why Republicans couldn’t exploit them, but why Democrats can.
First, he’s running a campaign fundamentally based on racism. But Republicans couldn’t call him on that, because more or less veiled appeals to racial resentment have been key to their party’s success for decades. Clinton, on the other hand, won the nomination thanks to overwhelming nonwhite support, and will have no trouble hitting hard on this issue.
Second, Trump is proposing wildly irresponsible policies that benefit the rich. But so were all the other Republicans, so they couldn’t attack him for that. Clinton can.
Third, Trump’s personal record as a businessman is both antisocial and just plain dubious. Republicans, with their cult of the entrepreneur, couldn’t say anything about that. Again, Clinton can.
The GOP paralysis on these issues explains why, again and again, Republicans turned to a proven line of attack — that is, proven not to work: insisting that Trump isn’t a true conservative, which matters to voters not at all. Obviously Democrats will be able to go after different and, I imagine, a lot more salient issues.
And there’s one last thing, which I suspect may make the biggest difference of all: Clinton’s campaign can go after Trump’s fundamental buffoonery.
I mean, he is a ludicrous figure, and everything we learn just makes him more ludicrous. So why couldn’t Republicans make that stick? I’d argue that it was because there was something fairly ludicrous about all his opponents, too.
Think about Marco Rubio: even before his famous brain glitch, it was just obvious that he was a prefab candidate, a nice-looking guy with no real convictions or experience reciting lines he was told to deliver. The infamous “We must dispel with …” wasn’t just vile and stupid (even the first time, let alone repeated); it was also, transparently, not something Rubio believed or even cared about except that his handlers told him to say it.
Or think about Ted Cruz, whose mean-spiritedness and self-centered nature evidently stand out even in today’s conservative movement, making him a hated figure even among those who should like his message.
Clinton, on the other hand, is not ludicrous. She can think on her feet; she’s tough as nails. Do you really think the person who stared down the Benghazi committee for 11 hours is going to wither under schoolboy taunts?
The news media will, I fear, try their best to pretend that the contrast isn’t what it is. We’ll hear endless explanations of why Trump’s vanity, ignorance, and lack of moral fiber somehow prove his “authenticity”, which Clinton somehow lacks. And maybe that will stick with voters. But I don’t think it will. In the end, it will be a race between a tough, smart lady and someone who is obviously a yuge, um, Antonin Scalia School of Law. And voters will notice.
From your lips to God’s ears, Paul.