Despite persistent trust issues, history, logic and battleground polling still favor Hillary Clinton to win the White House. What’s hot off the daily presses — talk about fitness, personality or character — will be eclipsed by this paramount lever: the Clinton campaign is superior (and omnipresent), with more money and better organization, thus it’s wider, inevitable success to demonize Trump as unfit and dangerous. Even if the undecided center splits down the middle, unlikely, then Democratic organization, ground game and turnout are all.
With the coarse Trump still careening between pandering and pontificating, that should spur younger voters to participate, if not from enthusiasm than dread of the deranged Donald. Consider: Trump’s sole power play— to manically seize the spotlight — will wear badly. Eight long weeks of his content-free sloganeering won’t add to his charm, indeed seal his already rigid support ceiling. Further, as economic conditions look better (thus Obama’s current high approvals), 76% of the time the incumbent party wins. Let the good times roll.
Against Trump’s tedious doomsday chant, bewailing everything and everyone stinks (all, like our generals, are “rubble”) what identifiable new contingency warms to this dreary Jeremiah? Rest assured more bad Trump press comes stage front, not just from his mouth but media revelations of dubious, if not criminal shenanigans . All in all, numbers will solidify that Trumpism needs a firm trouncing, even more than many another dreary, white, entitled, male Republican.
The Overcooked Maverick
Of course, the tipping point may well come down to who’s the least trusted, liked, or admired presidential candidate. But haven’t we passed the threshold when anything Clinton or Trump say about each other have lost much leverage? Whoever stumbles with heinous unforced errors will certainly pay the price, and it’s not like Trump and Clinton aren’t trying, with the nervy Donald still ahead. Being an insurgent maverick means diverging from party routines, not dumping on all generals, praising Putin, claiming everything is rigged, or attacking a rival’s transparency without clarity on his own health, business dealings or taxes.
If Trump succeeds in what he does best — making the campaign into one long selfie — won’t that risk dramatizing his notable weaknesses as gut politician, as national campaigner, certainly as a divisive president without equal? Consider U.S. history: is Trump the plausible breakthrough figure who becomes our first president never to hold high public office, political or military? Is this buffoon the unprecedented champion who remakes history by wanting to enter politics at the very crown? Curious logic in any other field.
No doubt I am biased, but psychologically do you find the Trumpster, for all his marketing panache, a very interesting personality? He’s a one-note, tiresome messenger of bad news whose declamatory style is surpassed only by the emptiness of idiotic notions. There is truly no there other than nervy performer with bad manners who expects to win simply by indicting nearly everyone in power as irredeemably corrupt, weak, or defective. Curious logic. Pundits complain about his policy void — how about his centerless, emotional void, more about gesture than substance? How long before veneer and sizzle, mesmerized by his own verbose, repetitive trash talk, bite him?
What Trump Doesn’t Know
Trump appears to have no solid, adult memory bank, even about his own life. Or self-awareness about his own drives. Enough visibility of that and key voters won’t simply be offended by the Donald’s juvenile firecrackers, but alienated by the unseriousness of the put-on. Can his sole pitch — elect me and I will alone and rapidly fix everything — forever withstand even modest scrutiny? Ditto, his chronic weasel words that wither under a minute’s scrutiny? I understand his 40% or so ceiling, and the boisterous, “get-it-done” entertainer who keeps tossing off one-liners. Is there much question the still unsuccessful “let Trump be Trump” tactic is betting on a long shot, even if he maximizes negative, ad hominem campaigning?
I am no Clinton supporter, but I see an experienced, well-trained, if well-entrenched, adult with a functional brain. She qualifies as the devil we know and we know her well. No small virtue for another “minority president,” she’s a survivor and she’s predictable. We also know the warning lights that will flash when she exposes untoward loyalties to establishment powerhouses — or when her hawkish foreign policy surfaces. Unlike the Trumpster, Hillary is totally vetted, for good and ill. We know what she knows and how she will govern. Trump has not persuaded enough people he knows who he is, thus who he will be as president, a damning flaw.
That’s why he has little choice but vilification, tossing off cheap, laughable shots even against incontrovertible Clinton virtues: high energy and work ethic, inexhaustible stamina and formal qualifications. Yes, Karl Rove taught the right to turn to flip an opponent’s strength into a liability. But not with Trump’s zero nuance, if not desperation, descending before it’s over to this lowest rung: this woman lacks the cojones, let alone the “necessities” (in Al Campanis’ immortal putdown) to be president. Caution warns against setting any bottom too low for Trump.
Trump Is No Superman
About government I doubt Trump knows what he doesn’t know or even what he believes in, if anything. If it becomes clear that Trump doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, how will undecideds begin to imagine his presidency? That double negative leaves Trumpism high and dry.
If this election comes down not to who is more fit or saner or in better health but who seems more like a (flawed) person, Hillary thrives. Even when she’s fudging, as with email/service deceptions, I think more voters can identify with her hedges than can understand Trump when he invents an utterly off-the-wall conspiracy — or hypocritically patronizes some audience he seeks to win over.
This election looks to conform the adage that it’s better to be an interesting, if compromised person than a fraudulent, celebrity con artist. You don’t have to hate Trump to find Hillary more competent or measured; you don’t even have to trust her greatly, only a smidgen more than the gold medal winner in specious, increasingly tedious proclamations. And we haven’t even had debates yet.