See? This is why I don’t take much time with the Democratic Primary. I spent the first three days this week on it, and now Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the country. I missed my 48 hours to be topical. Still, I can use the issue to pivot away from the Dems and back to the GOP.
I did not like Hillary Clinton’s reaction to the fallout from Donaldtrumpwantstoignoretheconstitutiongate. Before I get into that, here’s a timeline of its events:
September 20: Donald Trump says, “I love the Muslims.”
Tuesday morning: Politicians of most political stripes across the country and world condemn Trump for his comments.
Tuesday evening: Most notably, by the end of Tuesday, most Republican candidates repudiate Trump’s comments. Excepted here is Ted Cruz, who sees political expediency in lacking conviction on the matter. Trump’s supporters now are Cruz’s supporters in February.
So here we have the big leader of all Republican national polls, despite the rest of the party splitting with him, making that party and America look pretty racist and xenophobic. Most Americans don’t buy into what Trump is saying, but the fact that he’s united all the ones that do is branding the party and country with these undesirable traits.
In comes Hillary Clinton. Before I get into her response, I first want to share a scene from my favorite television show of all time, which is, unsurprisingly, The West Wing. The show’s main protagonist, President Bartlet, had just eviscerated his re-election challenger in a debate. In the “spin room,” where the President’s surrogates are meant to spin the performance in favor of their candidate, one of his advisers had a crazy idea.
“I’m going to make a bold suggestion, but hear me out,” she started. “Let’s not spin. Let’s leave the room.” When asked why, she responded, “There’s nothing left to do here, and it’s inelegant. It’s the punch Ali never gave Foreman when he was going down.”
She’s referring to the famous Muhammad Ali-George Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle” bout of ’74, where Foreman had tired himself out and was a dead boxer punching. After Ali connected with a combination in the eighth round, Foreman started going down. Ali could have expedited the fall, landing one more big punch to ensure Foreman stayed on the mat, but Ali just let him go, confident the damage was done.
Shouldn’t Hillary Clinton stand back and watch this all happen? Is there any way to spin Trump and his supporters’ ideology, or is it quite obvious how to interpret it? I think it’s the latter.
Instead, Clinton continued to play divisive partisan politics:
“Some of his Republican candidates are saying that his latest comments have gone too far. But the truth is, many of them have also said extreme things about Muslims. Their language may be more veiled than Trump’s, but their ideas are not so different.”
She later said that Trump is rarely right, but this is one case in which he is: “He said, ‘Oh yeah, that Republicans, they condemn me and then they move closer to me.’ So, we’re not only dealing with one inflammatory demagogue, we’re dealing with a party in danger of losing its way, of undermining the values that we have stood for.”
This language loses all hope of bringing Republicans into the fold of her potential presidency. She lumps all of them together, as if they’s a monolithic group of racists, as if there aren’t good Republicans looking for good solutions to our big problems. Moreover, to their credit, the other GOP candidates didn’t merely dodge the follow up questions; they explicitly disavowed Trump’s comments.
Ultimately, her comments are not only inappropriate, misleading, and in their own way pitting Americans against each other, they also do nothing to hurt Trump or get the center-right to be open to her candidacy in November or her presidential initiatives after that. What we need from Donaldtrumpwantstoignoretheconstitutiongate is one of these candidates to lead. Someone who can match Trump’s pitch but change the frequency by promoting harmony, not this perpetual cycle of divisiveness which is least appropriate when we’re at our most scared.
One might wonder, then, why such a smart lady and shrewd politician would react so amateurishly. Frankly, I think she’s got a sort of PTSD from the 2008 campaign. Despite overwhelming evidence that she’s all but inevitable as the nominee much more than she ever was eight years ago, she’s making sure her left flank is guarded against Bernie Sanders. As a result, this harsh partisan rhetoric, despite neither being necessary in the primary nor helpful with the American dialogue, curbs her potential in a general election and beyond. Bad move.
Tomorrow, it’s back to the Grand Old Party.