Conventional wisdom has it that Hillary Clinton’s recent absence from the campaign trail is a smart decision by her team. Take a look at her list of scheduled events and you’ll find Tim Kaine, Bernie Sanders and even Barack Obama pretty busy working on Clinton’s behalf through the end of the month. However the President-in-waiting herself is expected to speak only once before November: at tomorrow night’s third and final debate in Las Vegas, Nevada.
What gives? This is a woman who traveled nearly 100,000 miles during her tenure as Secretary of State. Her stamina as a worker, advocate and tireless wonk is legendary. The Trump campaign has done its darndest to peddle a competing narrative, but ever the contrarian, Donald himself said of Clinton at the end of the last debate:
“I will say this about Hillary. She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She’s a fighter. I disagree with much of what she’s fighting for. I do disagree with her judgment in many cases. But she does fight hard, and she doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I consider that to be a very good trait.”
With most poll trackers giving Trump virtually no shot at the White House as of this this week, friendly pundits and supporters compliment Clinton for staying out of the spotlight. The Republican dumpster fire continues to burn brightly. Why distract attention from that? Trump either can’t or won’t shut up. He’s simply unable to help himself. Paul Ryan and his ilk must love the latest entry in Trump’s devotional Russian diary: Donald Trump Says He Might Meet With Putin Before Inauguration.
Let the Orange Devil continue his Twitter feuds. The press, many Republicans and the voting public are finally giving Trump the negative pile-on he deserves. So Hillary spent last weekend doing what she does best: studying and preparing to take on her opponent Wednesday evening.
Don’t we all kind of wish we had her as a high school Biology lab partner? She’s won both debates so far and I think we can all agree (regardless of partisan stripes) that Trump is just not that into sitting still, cramming his head with argument-supporting facts and figures. Instead he’s already playing to the cheap seats, suggesting Clinton should undergo a drug screening before the candidates take the stage in Vegas.
Trump has diarrhea of the mouth that won’t stop running. It’s smearing the entire country and our democratic political process with feces. Clinton’s reluctance to engage him off the debate stage is completely understandable. But that’s not the only force at play here.
As Donald Trump’s institutionalized misogyny and penchant for sexual assault continue to grab headlines, Team Hillary remains steadfast that her perspective on these issues should be simple – she doesn’t have one. After all, her husband, former President Bill Clinton had/has his own infidelity challenges, so she can’t touch Trump’s perversions. His campaign is only too happy to jump on her own alleged aggression toward Bill Clinton’s accusers.
Allow me to dissent from the generally accepted school of thought that quiet is a good thing. A silent Clinton is not doing herself – or the nation – any favors. I’m all for Hillary’s temporary seclusion to prepare and brace for a debate tomorrow night in which anything – quite literally – could happen. With Trump in the full scorched earth mode of almost certain November defeat, she has to be ready. However I’m also inclined to agree with Joel Benenson, Clinton’s Chief Strategist and Pollster, who told The New York Times last week: “You take nothing for granted…You campaign all the way to the end, and you regularly look at what’s ahead and you manage time and resources to get the most value out of the candidate’s time around the country.”
The fact remains that for all of Clinton’s 30 years plus of brand and name recognition, voters don’t really know her. They don’t know what this steely, strong woman has stared down and survived. Last month she told the Humans of New York blog:
“I know that I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional…But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that’s a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don’t want to seem ‘walled off.’”
Please ma’am, can we have some more? EVERY woman knows this struggle. You don’t need to dive into the sexual assault muck with Donald Trump. You aren’t required to have prepared responses for every outlandish and outrageous statement he makes. You made it to the final presidential heat for reasons far beyond the contrast in decorum and sense you offer against your unhinged male opponent. Your qualifications, your experience, your never quit attitude – yes, yes and yes. But you are also a woman with stories. You bring more than a cold, calculating caricature to the table.
Hillary Clinton has another ace up her sleeve when it comes to distinguishing herself from Donald Trump – possession of basic, empathetic humanity. Curiously this is the card her team seems unwilling to play.