Is Donald Trump really catching up to Hillary Clinton? FiveThirtyEight has officially shaded Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina a light pink. It is difficult to believe that the country that elected Barack Obama twice might elect Donald Trump, whose campaign promises suggest he will undo just about everything Obama did.
Mostly because Obama has had a largely successful presidency despite existential intransigence from the Republican Party. President Obama had no major scandals — except in the hyper-partisan minds of Republicans who were trying to make him a one-term president well into his second term — which offers a nice contrast with the Reagan Administration’s record of 138 scandals officially resulting in an investigation, indictment, or conviction.
Then there is Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, whose administration couldn’t seem to do anything without going against either the rule or the spirit of the law. Here is a rather exhaustively researched, if perhaps pedantic, list of 400 Bush Administration scandals. Oh, and don’t forget that Dick Cheney retired as George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense, was hired as CEO of Halliburton for a lot of money, left to recommend himself as Bush’s VP, and then steered the country toward an unnecessary Iraq War which fraudulently paid Halliburton handsomely for shoddy work in a no-bid contract that undermined the conservative Bush Administration’s ideals of both frugality and free-market competition (more proof of my column’s chief claim: American conservatism is a sham).
If Donald Trump becomes president he would likely eclipse Bush and Reagan in governmental incompetence and criminality. Trump has more presidential conflicts of interest than any other president in history.
Newsweek broke a story yesterday highlighting some of Trump’s more troubling conflicts of interest, and his personal economic interests could upend America’s national security interests and general foreign policy relationships in nations as varied as Russia, India, Turkey, China, Brazil, Bulgaria, Argentina, Canada, France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan. Yikes.
Curiously, the mainstream media has been mostly silent about the Newsweek findings, and many of today’s top stories focus largely on the candidates’ physical health. Given that Trump is so thin-skinned as to frequently and dramatically shift his political allegiances via Twitter, the Newsweek findings should be a bigger rationale not to elect Trump than his penchant for eating fast food.
But it has been well-documented that Donald Trump’s unceasing controversy has been normalized by the media’s shell-shocked coverage of his daily lies and insults, and the Newsweek story’s weak impact suggests that it doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know, or at least anything we haven’t already suspected. Trump’s complete lack of presidential qualities is common knowledge within the media, and yet he is still somehow gaining on Clinton!
There is still a month and a half to go until election day, and within this stretch of time is a gauntlet of three debates in which Trump will presumably be participating (?), but Trump’s approaching comeback in electoral projections is a troubling indication of America’s political apathy and uncritical thinking.
Donald Trump has lied about or insulted virtually everything and everyone, and half of America evidently has no problem with the degradation of our national politics. In contrast to Trump’s egotistical disregard for truth or consistency, Hillary Clinton is objectively, overwhelmingly more honest than him, though she has been unpersuasive in defending herself against Trump’s smears…probably because her speaking skills are not that of a sixth grader like Trump’s speaking skills.
On rhetorical offense, she has been much less memorable than Trump, save for her recent “basket of deplorables” gaffe. Clinton quickly apologized for the comment (something Trump has never done and probably never will do given that — despite his alleged faith in God and enjoyment of all seven Deadly Sins — he doesn’t like to ask for heavenly forgiveness).
In Clinton’s defense, a disproportionate number of Trump’s supporters believe that she should be imprisoned, shot, and/or impeached on her first day in the White House if elected. Trump frequently suggests on the campaign trail that she is dangerous and emotionless, and cannot make up his mind whether she is just a terrorist/co-founder of ISIS, or if she is literally the devil. Trump and his supporters deserve Clinton’s disdain.
However, the biggest disappointment in America’s polled flirtation with a Trump presidency is that, simply, Democrats deserve another term thanks to Obama’s steady and focused economic recovery. Obama-hating Republicans like Donald Trump are wrong when they suggest that America in 2016 is a hellhole. They are confusing the end of Obama’s presidency with the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, an unprecedented moment in which the economy was in free-fall, America was drowning in two direction-less occupations of civil-warring countries, and America had soiled its reputation around the world with a hubristic foreign policy of self-destructive exceptionalism. Thankfully, this is not the state of the union anymore.
Ezra Klein of Vox published this morning a “thought-experiment” speculating that if Mitt Romney had won Election 2012 and been president over the last four years of America’s economic recovery, he would be hailed as the second-coming of Ronald Reagan. But no one is giving Obama economic credit, even though the current unemployment rate of 4.9% is more than a full percentage point lower than Romney’s 2012 ambitious promise of 6%, and the political narrative that has rewarded Trump’s barbaric campaign with the Republican nomination is the erroneous belief that the economy sucks.
Somehow — despite previous Republican administrations’ staggering records of incompetence, the Obama Administration’s stark contrast of competence, America’s economic comeback, and Trump’s incessant political bullshittery — Hillary Clinton is losing swing states.