It’s been a week of fits and starts for Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
While not officially nominated yet, she has gotten rid of her last competitor in the alliance forged with the Senator from Vermont. At a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Sanders officially pulled the plug on his campaign, not with concession, but with an extensive endorsement. His support of the Clinton campaign and acceptance of the Primary vote results cleared the lane for Clinton to pivot full force on her Republican rival, Donald Trump. So far, Clinton has had to straddle a fence, running two campaigns at the same time ever since John Kasich and Ted Cruz gave up the ghost months prior. Consider her sudden assets, no longer taking hits from the wildly popular Sanders, now able to campaign with Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and President Obama. Don’t forget, with the Democratic National Convention running the week after the Republican counterpart Hillary has the good tactical advantage of being able to waiting for Donald Trump to select a running mate first, thereby honing in on her own VP selection accordingly.
That would be terrific in a week not marred by complicit confirmation that former Secretary Clinton was “careless” with government emails. So were the words of FBI Director, James Comey, when he spoke to the nation in an impromptu announcement hours before Clinton and President Obama took the stage for their first joint rally. Ultimately, Comey’s recommendation not to pursue legal charges was due to the fact that there was no legal matter to pursue, hence his unusual character indictment. Clinton’s apparent dereliction of common sense was a stumbling block in time but not a momentum killer. She will have to address the issue sooner than later, however.
Clinton has taken a ding in recent poll numbers as was the expected fallout. Slipping behind Trump in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, according to a recent Qunnipiac poll. Clinton will have to weather this storm until her campaign’s ship finds safe port in the next inevitable verbal dysentery Trump will offer up. If anything, Trump’s recent uptick in some polls should only frustrate many within the GOP when they consider how well he could performed if had actually tried to competently run a campaign. It was the day after Comey’s public haranguing, Trump’s first great golden goose during the General Election against Clinton, and he could not care less.
Reading off of a sheet of paper, Trump quickly hit on several half-hatched bullet points regarding Comey’s statement. After less than a dozen loose statements, Candidate Trump tossed the paper in the air and proceeded to free associate for the better part of an hour. His topics were broad and spastic, jumping from topic to topic within the same breath. There was a time where he became distracted by a fly, swatting at it and counter-anthropomorphizing it into former Senator Clinton, replete with a Pixar-esque voiceovers; which the candidate provided. He also took an extended amount of time insisting that he didn’t really love Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, like an uncomfortable amount of time insisting that he didn’t really love him.
He also swung back around to an old favorite, the unfair Liberal Media. Bitter that MSNBC’s Chuck Todd questioned his ability to capitalize on Comey’s statement against Clinton, he christened Todd, “Sleepy Eyes”. In his distracted tirade, Trump prove Todd’s speculation correct and cemented the GOP’s secret fear: even in the best of weather, even golden plated with a bombshell against his opponent, even when they write it all out neatly on paper for him, the Don is just not capable of getting it done. If Clinton can weather the Comey fallout, and if the RNC is anything other than an unquestionable success story, then the Republicans are going to be hard pressed to find a winning strategy that will stick to Clinton post-DNC in Philadelphia. Flanked with Sanders, Warren, Biden and Obama, Clinton may merely need to run the clock out if Trump keep fumbling every pass that falls into his tiny, tiny hands.
The latest and greatest trick up Donald Trump’s sleeve will be the selection of his Vice President. He has been dangling the rose to several prospective/desperate suitors for weeks now and appears close to a decision. This sort of baited anticipation is specific to his nature as a showman and may even serve as the more entertaining way of discovering who the VP will be on the stage in Cleveland, but it does Trump the disservice not allowing him extra weeks to appear organized and streamlined. It shortens his time campaigning with his VP prior to the RNC, which could be used to better build a rapport, not only between themselves but with a public who will need time to familiarize.
The difficulty lies in the fact that none of Trump’s remaining choice are all together that appealing. After Joni Ernst and Bob Corker just recently declined, Trump is left with Indiana Governor, Mike Pence; former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich; New Jersey Governor and personal lapdog, Chris Christie; and former General Michael Flynn. Of them, Gingrinch is seen as the Establishment pick to steady an inexperienced Trump, but he’s Gingrinch. He will not positively affect any of the demographic deficits that are currently costing Trump the election. While Christie will serve as an unquestioning sycophant for Emperor Trump, again, the selection doesn’t draw spit. Pence will ease some of the Conservative bloc, but with the nomination all but sewn up for Trump, where else are the Conservatives going to go at this point?
A smart counter would be someone with military experience to shore up against Clinton’s glaring foreign policy advantage. The problem is that Trump’s rhetoric, including repeated calls for institutional torture and targeted assassination of terrorists’ family members, has alienated many in the Armed Forces. While General Stanley McChrystal was being floated he quickly put that rumor to bed, stating that if asked he would refuse. Trump is now left with General Flynn. Flynn, a Democrat and pro-choice advocate, has recently split the difference citing that he is a “pro-life democrat”. An apparent conciliatory effort to remain a viable option on a ticket whose platform includes “conversion therapy” for the LGBT community.
The problem that everyone is dancing around is that Trump is doomed to pick another old white guy to stand behind him to talk about things in old white guy terms. I know that reads reductive and simplistic, but sometimes it’s just that easy. We are an increasingly Progressive nation that wants not only change in government but in society as well. While Trump may be running on the former, he is woefully unaware of the latter. With St. Paul and Baton Rouge and Dallas and (sure to be filled, unfortunately) still so raw in our nation’s mind, take a look at the two campaigns. Someone in the crowd, during Clinton’s Portsmouth stump speech, shouted, “black lives matter”. Clinton did not scream back, “Get ‘em outta here!” Instead, Clinton did not miss a beat with the call and response when she said, “Yes, they do!” Compare on the other hand, when offered to speak at the NAACP State of the Union, which would have been a blank check for Trump to reset his trajectory and possibly establish inroads with the Black community, he flat out refused the invitation. He also called for the disbanding of Black Lives Matter while his wide-eyed lunatic surrogate, Sarah Palin, is going around on his behalf labeling them a “terrorist organization”.
There may only be one America but there are definitely two separate conversations as to what is actually happening here. Whoever wins in November will be the candidate that best speaks truth to the actual condition on the ground.