It’s been a rough go for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton these past two weeks. Both candidates in an election cycle, regardless of their relation to one another in the polls, will jockey back and forth trading lead from week to week. This oscillation is only exacerbated by twenty-four hour news programs padding stories to stretch for shelf life or, worse still, selectively choosing what is “news” based on little more than ratings. That’s the way it is, take it or leave it. If you’re still tossing around the lead with only fifty days left until the election, well, then what’s to be expected becomes what’s to be concerned about. Thus, welcome to the Clinton campaign.

What’s ceaselessly amazing about the Clinton apparatus is how long and how deeply rooted they are in the D.C. Beast and how often they make novice mistakes or misjudgments, nearly always found to be symptomatic of what Colin Powell referred to in recently hacked personal emails as her “hubris”. Elections 101 will tell you not to attack the voter. It never looks good, even if you’re right. Hate the player, not the game. Hate the sinner, not the sin. Hate the candidate, not their supporters. During a New York fundraiser, Clinton claimed that half of Trump’s supporters could be put into a “basket of deplorables”. She was not referencing their implicit support of her opponent, but rather, the overt racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and overall discrimination and hatred seen at Trump rallies and conducted online via a rabid faction of his supporters. While she made strides to add to her comment that the other half of his supporters have very valid economic concerns, the die was set.

Trump wasted no time to tell the American people that Hillary Clinton thinks were all a bunch of jerks, how she is an elitist (coming from a billionaire who paints his chairs gold, mind you) who is out of touch with the common people. Given the optics of her statement alone, the Republican candidate would have a point to raise. Fair credit to the Trump campaign for sensing fresh meat and sinking in with lock jaw tenacity. Their “basket of deplorables” rebuttals have given the campaign strong headwinds that no one should sneeze at. Their determination not to let the issue drop is the exact same focus that his campaign handlers wished their candidate possessed for several other key issues that were never long within Trump’s attention span.

While there was blowback on Clinton for the statement, that may have been a calculated risk done to bring the debate back into our living rooms. A significant faction of Trump supporters being racist, even having their racism encouraged, if even indirectly, from the Republican candidate does not have to be mutually exclusive to Hillary Clinton being an elitist. It is a label that a career politician on the verge of becoming President of the United States of America can take on the chin if that’s what it takes to push her over the finish line. Now the Trump campaign is in the uncomfortable position of either enabling former KKK Grandmaster, David Duke, by not specifically calling him deplorable like when Vice-Presidential nominee, Mike Pence, was asked, or validating at least the premise of Hillary Clinton’s argument. This has left, once again, Pence and Trump on a no man’s land. They can only offer the mildest rebuke of David Duke and his ilk because at the end of the day, theirs is the only demographic that their campaign can reliably depend on to show up in November.

If Trump/Pence cannot win the White House, they will have strong-armed the Republican party to curry favor with foreign dictators that are antithetical to American prosperity and security, all for the petty means of casting shade on President Obama. They will have enabled and stoked the passions of white nationalists to gin up the support of an unsustainable voting bloc that offers no path toward a larger coalition of supporters. If and when Trump loses, he will have left that flaming paper bag on the GOP’s doorstep and they will be stuck wiping off the bottoms of their shoes for at least a full generation.

And that was just the first shoe!

The other one dropped early Sunday morning during the New York Memorial for the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. While attending the memorial, Secretary Clinton was reported to have felt light-headed. She left the event early and was caught on film being helped into a black van, clearly not under her own power. It was only after the video was leaked across the country that the campaign even acknowledged the event, explaining it away as “heat exhaustion” Hours later, the campaign amended that statement, saying that Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia, and had known such since last Friday. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s before she issued a statement saying that it was merely heat exhaustion. And that’s the problem. The unflattering video of her passing out on her feet, the coughing fits, the pneumonia, none of that plays in her favor, but none of that is as damning as the way they handled the dissemination of the news. It is only after having to answer for something they were exposed in, do the Clintons ever offer transparency to the issue at hand. While I feel personally that the sickness is much ado about nothing, they do themselves no favors with the cloak and dagger routine. It’s just not necessary.

More to the point, Trump did not even mention the incident. That is highly unlike the candidate who never once balked at accusing Clinton of deficiencies, both real and imagined. Like her “baskets” comment, her health cycling through the news has pivoted the very issue back on Trump and his incredibly dubious doctor’s note from resident quack, Dr. Bornstein. Attempting to snuff the candle before it became a torch, Trump vowed to release the results of a new physical on a taping of the Dr. Oz show. You know, because he’s an actual candidate for the presidency of the Free World and not at all a clown perpetually seeking to squeeze that last bit of attention from anyone who will oblige. But then it was revealed in an interview with Fox News’s, Brian Kilmeade, that Dr. Oz agreed not to reveal anything the candidate doesn’t want us to know and to not ask questions that Trump does not want to answer.

If that wasn’t patronizing enough, it came out the day of the taping that Trump would, in fact, not be releasing his medical reports on the show at all. Instead, Trump would talk about well-being, a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and positive thinking; things of which he is clearly an expert. As to the release of the actual medical report, the Trump campaign has been quoted as promising, “soon”. This “soon” is the same soon we await on for the release of his tax returns, his medical information, that long-forgotten-but-never-given press conference regarding Melania’s immigration status, the bulk of his foreign policy and the specific details of his immigration policy.

While the health of a potential President is a valid deciding factor, neither would be the first to enter the Oval Office at anything less than perfect health. John Kennedy’s back pains turned him into a pharmacy dumpster. Woodrow Wilson had to be propped up in bed with a pen in his hand by his wife Weekend At Bernie’s style after her suffered a debilitating stroke. Franklin Delano Roosevelt actively hid the severity of the polio and was dying when he was elected into his fourth term, and the public couldn’t be more grateful for his sacrifice and duty therein. Hell, his uncle Teddy went blind in one eye after getting into a boxing match while in the midst of his administration, (kind of exactly what you expect from Teddy Roosevelt). All this, not to defend Clinton’s obfuscation of her pneumonia diagnosis or Trump’s lack of information, but to highlight that physical health is historically less significant that mental acumen. Nero could have taken all the Pilates classes he wanted, that still wouldn’t make him fit to run a bake sale. I would be very interested in the results of a psychological examination of both candidates and feel that it should be a required obligation going forward based on the 2016 campaign thus far. Short of that, I recommend shock collars in 2020.

  • Content Strategist, novelist and prolific roustabout who drinks entirely too much coffee. You can find him on Twitter @therealadamdodd

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