What a difference a month can make in a presidential campaign. At the start of October, the Trump campaign had floundered through some bad weeks. A former Miss Universe – Alicia Machado – came forward to accuse Mr. Trump of having called her some rude names nearly 20 years earlier. She said he called her “Miss Piggy” just because she had gained a mere 60 pounds during her reign. The media blow-dry set were aghast and covered nothing else for days. “Do we want someone this crude in the White House?” they asked. Then a parade of women from The Donald’s past came out of the woodwork to claim that he had groped them or otherwise treated them rudely, back in the day.
I have not heard than any of those stories was confirmed, and it was soon disclosed that the offended Miss Machado had appeared in porn films and had once been accused of driving a getaway car in a Venezuelan murder case. She quickly faded off the front pages as the Clintonistas found her no longer useful in their campaign to trash Mr. Trump.
During this mud-throwing period, Democrats and their media liege-persons mocked Mr. Trump as an inept campaigner, a rube, and a sure loser who had no idea what he was doing. He was stumbling around like a blind man in a china shop. How could this guy ever be president? With each new Trump “gaffe,” reporters, pundits and Democrat partisans pronounced the Trump-adventure “over” – kaput, as dead as Jacob Marley.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton – the heir-apparent to the Obama Throne – was cruising serenely toward her coronation. It would be the well-deserved apex of her glorious political career. She was widely praised as a consummate politician – an irresistible political force – who was temperamentally suited and superbly qualified to hold this sacred office. (Except for the Catholic Church’s archaic policies, she would surely be in line to be the next pope after her 8-year presidential reign.)
Mrs. Clinton held a commanding lead in the national polls – as much as 10% in some samples. WikiLeaks-disclosures of e-mails hacked from some Clinton top-bananas continued to trickle out, but Big Media either ignored them or brushed them aside as having no importance. It was nothing, they assured us. Mrs. Clinton had it in the bag. She would sweep the Electoral College. Establishment pooh-bahs of both parties were jubilant that the “paper lion,” with all his bombast and crude name-calling, was finally vanquished. It was all over, Baby. What a wonderful time to be alive!
But then, Bizzarro, the god of strange historical justice, struck without warning. Having cleared Mrs. Clinton in July of any “indictable” wrong-doing in the case of her private e-mail server, FBI Director James Comey shocked the world – not to mention the Clinton campaign – with his October 28 announcement that the FBI planned to re-open the case because new evidence had come to light. Primarily, that evidence consisted of some 650,000 e-mails from (and to) Huma Abedin, Mrs. Clinton’s closest aide and confidant, that were found on a personal laptop shared with Ms. Abedin’s estranged husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner. Mr. Weiner had been publicly disgraced for apparently sending pornographic e-mails to an underage girl. His involvement was like manna from heaven for young, sensation-hungry reporters.
Following Mr. Comey’s dramatic bombshell, the Clinton campaign and its media acolytes mounted a furious offensive to vilify the FBI director, whom they had praised to the skies just a few months earlier. They blamed the Russians for the e-mail hacking, and claimed that there was nothing new in any of this. Unfortunately it was also disclosed, in the same week, that two laptops belonging to Clinton aides, supposedly destroyed by FBI agents, had been retained and were being examined for possible evidence in both the Clinton e-mail case and in a second investigation of the linkage between the Clinton Foundation’s money-raising and Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. Her campaign was sailing into uncharted waters.
These events brought to mind the madcap 1975 British film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” which contains a hilarious scene with King Arthur and The Black Knight. The latter is resolutely blocking a bridge that Arthur wants to cross. The knight refuses to let Arthur pass, so they commence a sword-duel to decide the matter. The Black Knight is very fierce and aggressive, but Arthur is more skilled and soon lops off the knight’s left arm. “’Tis but a scratch,” says the knight. “I’ve ‘ad worse.” He refuses to yield and fights on, one-armed. Arthur chops off his other arm, but again the knight won’t quit. He tries to continue by kicking, so Arthur cuts off one of his legs. “It’s just a flesh wound,” shouts the crippled knight, as he hops around spewing blood and insults. Losing patience, Arthur cuts off his other leg, leaving the knight on the ground. “Running away are you!!? Come back here, you pansy, and get what’s coming to you,” shouts the now armless and legless knight. “Chicken! Kook-kook-kwawk…”
This classic British slapstick scene seems like a reasonable metaphor for what the presidential campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton has become. The wounds she has suffered are far more serious than the trivial charges hurled at Mr. Trump. Whatever folks might think of his public persona, there’s no getting past the fact that he has never endangered the nation’s security. The media can continue to natter at him, while making light of (or ignoring) the damage Mrs. Clinton has inflicted on herself, but she remains seriously wounded, while he forges on, relatively undamaged.
Long-time Democrat pollster Pat Caddell says Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been “going down like the Titanic” since the FBI re-opened the criminal investigation into her unsecured e-mail server. He predicts a possible “landslide victory” for Donald Trump. “The dam is about to break,” said Mr. Caddell, earlier this week.
Of course, the Black Knight metaphor isn’t entirely accurate for at least two reasons: first, because Mrs. Clinton’s wounds were inflicted not by an opponent, but by herself; and second, because the outcome of the Clinton-Trump match will be decided by another party, not by one of the contestants. That highly interested party is the electorate. Except for stoned druggies, backwoods denizens isolated from the outside world, and longtime-riders on the government gravy-train, the public’s attention is now fully focused not on Mr. Trump’s “flaws,” but on whether Mrs. Clinton is, herself, truly fit to be president. She naturally thinks so, since her standard was set by loveable old Bubba. (After all, if that schmo can be president, why shouldn’t she?) But the voters might see things a little differently.
Both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have hammered what they call Mr. Trump’s “temperamental unfitness” for the office. He’s simply too rude and too crude to stand on the world stage with foreign worthies. He’s unstable; he can’t be trusted near the “nuclear codes.” Besides that, he’s xenophobic, homophobic, possibly hydrophobic, a Tee-totaler, a hater of women, a racist (and probably a Grand Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan). He’s a bumpkin who couldn’t get into the servants’ entrance of the White House.
This is obviously great sport for the Clinton team, and wonderful copy for reporters of all ages. It also usefully deflects attention from Mrs. Clinton’s serious character-flaws. But one doubts if the voters are listening to her shrieking any longer – if they ever did. She sounds increasingly like the de-limbed Black Knight hurling insults as Arthur leaves the field. (“You’re a disgrace! You’re yellow! Your mother wears combat boots! Come on, then! It’s just a flesh wound!”)
On Tuesday we’re going to find out if voters will actually give a woman with Mrs. Clinton’s record and judgment the nation’s highest office. God help us, if we do. Choices at this level have real consequences, and real life isn’t a movie.
“The LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man…” (Genesis 6:3)