Monday, May 16, 2016


When I saw that The New York Times had published a story titled "Little Is Off Limits as Donald Trump Plans Attacks on Hillary Clinton’s Character," I naturally assumed that Trump is planning to attack Clinton in ways she hasn't been attacked before, and on subjects that otherwise would have been off limits.

Nope -- it's just the same old same old:
Donald J. Trump plans to throw Bill Clinton’s infidelities in Hillary Clinton’s face on live television during the presidential debates this fall, questioning whether she enabled his behavior and sought to discredit the women involved.

Mr. Trump will try to hold her accountable for security lapses at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and for the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens there.

And he intends to portray Mrs. Clinton as fundamentally corrupt, invoking everything from her cattle futures trades in the late 1970s to the federal investigation into her email practices as secretary of state.
Wait -- there must be more. Here's a separate Times story enumerating Trump's likely areas of attack. They are:
* The Affairs

* The Impeachment

*The Cattle Futures

* The Emails

* The Benghazi Attacks
Really, Donald? That's all you've got?

Hillary Clinton would have been attacked on all of these matters no matter who was the nominee. The only thing that's new here is that the candidate isn't going to pretend to be above the fray while surrogates and media allies do all the dirty work. This year, the candidate is going to be doing a lot of the attacking himself.

And the candidate is Trump, of course. The media admires Trump for turning the primaries into a months-long schoolyard brawl, and for winning that brawl. He won, of course, because he was appealing to voters of a rageoholic party in which it's widely believed that the answers to all questions are simple, emotionally satisfying, and focused exclusively on hurting one's political enemies; the electorate in November won't be like that, but the press loves a winner, and Trump still acts like one, even if he trails Clinton in every poll. The press wants to see someone take a swing at Hillary Clinton this way, and it's just so awesome that it might happen in what used to be a forum for reasonably serious answers to mostly serious questions.

In a more typical Republican smear campaign -- see, for instance, the Swift Boaters in 2004 -- the media barely attempts to establish the truth of the attacks because, gosh, they're not coming from the candidate or official surrogates, and the campaign strenuously denies any connection to the smears. Won't the media response be different if the smears are coming directly from the nominee? You'd think the press would assess them more carefully -- but because the smears will be coming from Trump, the press response will probably be Trump as General Election Smear Merchant: Still Awesome at This, or Not Quite as Awesome as in the Primaries?

I thought Trump was going to dredge up something a bit more predictable than Bill's zipper problem and Benghazi -- then I realized that he's lazy and ill-informed and probably doesn't have a true opposition research team apart from Roger Stone. So we're going to get the moldy oldies. And the press is going to get all excited about them all over again. That would have happened anyway, because the press always wants to see Hillary Clinton taken down a peg, but there'll be extra excitement, because it's (be still, our fluttering media hearts!) Trump. So we'll see how it plays out.


AllieG said...

When she says in response, well, I chose to work to save my marriage, but I can see why your wives didn't, that'll be good TV.

Victor said...


Jeffery said...

He has no idea who he will be dealing with. I hope she lets him have both barrels at the same time. I can see his orange spray tan running down his sweaty shocked face.

Molly Layton said...

Now we are in World Wrestling territory, where Trump is the one with experience, jazzing up the pre-fight anticipation of really dirty but exciting stuff-to-come. The guy knows how to pack an arena. Every day now we are audience to a new Trump-outrageous-thingy, and in this daily, drip-drip way we are shaped, trained, molded into our role as spectators at the spectacle. Notice how this "training" makes us passive? I mean, we're making jokes about Trump, we're laughing at him, but he's a mind-worm growing in power in our heads, and in our polls. How do you stop a media-savvy demagogue?

KenRight said...

AllieG said...
"When she says in response, well, I chose to work to save my marriage, but I can see why your wives didn't, that'll be good TV."

I had the impression Trump's exes had kinder things to say about him than Bill's exes,at least those in question, had about Hillary.

Palli said...

HRC has practiced her public reaction to her husband's infidelities and the nation will continue to celebrate her strength. It was always a private matter, but it was made public for political reasons.

Americans should not equate nosy offensive attacks about her husband President Clinton with the constant barrage of racist anger that has been leveled against our present President and his family. Publicly declared racism is a deeper, visceral disrespect than Hillary has ever endured. Attacks against President Obama are far deeper than personal.

Sweet Sue said...

Bill Clinton has no exes. He's been married once, and still is married to Hillary.

Sweet Sue said...

I disagree, Palli: when you're called a cunt on twitter every single day, it's visceral.

AllieG said...

Of course it's visceral. And many, many white men who never criticized Obama on conscious racial grounds (subconscious perhaps, who's to tell) will have no problem attacking Hillary in an overtly sexist way. I heard resentment of her from too many of 'em long before Barack Obama was on the scene.

Bruce Webb said...

"I had the impression Trump's exes had kinder things to say about him than Bill's exes,at least those in question, had about Hillary."

Yes that is what NDAs (Non Disclosure Agreements) backed up by YUUUGE divorce and child support settlements will buy you. Ivana can disavow her marital rape claim and Marla the humiliation of having 'Bill Miller' tell the press that The Donald really wasn't going to put a ring on it and had three other girlfriends besides by very literally taking it to the bank.

Christ The Donald is talking openly about having his Cabinet sign NDAs promising never to say a negative word. And modifying the 1st Amendment to get that Bezos guy under control. Control freak doesn't begin to describe the pathology.

Palli said...

Myth-making surrounding a person does not make good politics.
Arguing about the levels of personal pain is a useless effort. However the appreciation and respect the general public places on an individual's pain can be dangerous & misleading. In this case, sympathy for HRC because of GOP unfair and coarse behavior since 1991 are perfectly appropriate but the simple fact that remains she has the protection of the success, honor & extreme wealth. She was not oppressed.

The intellectual pain thrust by political opponents is not the steeped visceral pain of centuries of violent & intellectual oppression against American Black citizens or Native NDNs. Sure, HRC may have internalized in a visceral way the evil machinations against her & her family. But don't even begin to value equally this to African American visceral pain. Or, more to the point, it doesn't compare to the pain of a woman who has been called a c---, raped and left alone damaged.

KenRight said...

Trump has several well adjusted kids to be a control freak, Webb.
And Allie maybe Clinton's resentment for the "cookie baking" wives has something to do with it.