Question: Why Did Hillary Call Trump Supporters ‘Deplorable?’
We like to give you controversial topics to discuss. We give you examples of what is being said in the media, from Breitbart to HuffPost, and from The Blaze to Ozy—and a dozen in between. But in referring to these publications, we also try to figure out what’s going on. Today, the topic is Hillary’s comment last Friday, that Donald Trump’s supporters can be split into two “baskets,” as noted in Breitbart.
During a fundraiser in New York City Friday evening, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton described half of the Americans supporting Donald Trump as a “basket of deplorables” made up of “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic” people.
Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence was not pleased.
Mike Pence lambasted Hillary Clinton Saturday for saying half of Donald Trump’s supporters are in a “basket of deplorables,” saying that someone with such a “low opinion” of the American people ought to be disqualified from serving as president.
Hot Air also chimed in.
Nothing says woman of the people like a political candidate who got filthy rich while serving in the Senate and State Department insulting millions of voters while surrounded by celebrities, right? Hillary Clinton shifted her attack from Donald Trump to his supporters at a fundraiser in New York City, putting “half” of them into “a basket of deplorables.” That’s a memorable turn of phrase, but will Hillary want to forget it?. . .
Should it get the “47 percent” treatment? Yes, perhaps even more deservedly than Romney; his (misguided) remarks were about specific tax and safety-net policies, not accusing tens of millions of Americans of bigotry simply for not supporting him. Will it? No, and for one unassailable reason — the media will never start that same kind of feeding frenzy around Hillary. They’ll cover it initially, perhaps even noting what a foolish misstep it was as Don Lemon did in the CNN clip, but very quickly the media narrative will turn to whether Republicans are “pouncing” and “overplaying their hand.” Don’t be surprised if that shift occurs as soon as tomorrow morning’s news shows.
Meanwhile, conservative writer David Brooks said, on Meet The Press, that Hillary’s words sounded a lot like Richard Nixon.
Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” while discussing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s Friday night, comments describing half of Republican nominee Donald Trump’s supporters as “deplorables” driven by “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic” beliefs, New York Times columnist David Brooks said the remark showed a “dark” and “Nixonian” world view.
Brooks said, “First, you know, it was terrible week for politics, we had to race to the bottom before but this is like Usain Bolt speed, these two. I was struck by another sentence in that quote about the deplorables, that they are irredeemable. There is a reason no religion believes that. Because if you believe people are irredeemable you are saying they say they lack redeemable souls and in a lesser category of human beings and that’s a dark, dark world view. That’s the risk with Clinton, she can be hard-working and very effective and very efficient but there is a dark world view that is semi-Nixonian lurking in there.”
OK. That’s what was said. But the question is why—why someone who is known for over-thinking what she says would make such a clumsy comment. It seems to break the number one rule of politics—criticize an opponent, but not the voters. It also seems like a mistake in the mold of Mitt Romney’s “47%” gaffe in 2012. And while I haven’t read it anywhere, it also strikes me that a “basket” of people sounds a lot like Romney’s “binders of women,” which seemed dismissive of women, and was ridiculed as simplistic. How did an “overthinker” make this “mistake”?
The American Thinker thinks Hillary just freaked out.
This week could be the point of no return for the faltering Clinton campaign. The elitism that is a defining characteristic of the contemporary political establishment has lured the campaign into a strategic blunder. They are in a panic with Trump closing the polling gap in battleground states.
So as panicked people sometimes do, the Brooklyn Brain Trust made a decision from the gut. They are scared of the Trump supporters, and they presume that their voters are, too. So scared that it makes sense to them for Bill and Hillary Clinton to publicly disparage a substantial fraction of the American public.
And what did Hillary do next? A non-apology apology.
Hillary Clinton partially walked back comments she made on Friday night, describing half of Donald Trump’s supporters as “deplorables” who were driven “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic” sentiments.
“Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong,” Clinton said in a statement released Saturday afternoon.
Clinton made the comments at a fundraising event Friday in New York City, and by the next morning the Trump campaign was demanding an apology.
Hillary did not apologize for calling “some” of Trump’s supporters “deplorable.” She just said she had been imprecise—that deplorable people probably don’t actually make up a full “half” of Trump’s supporters.
“Words have consequences,” Hillary Clinton likes to caution while campaigning against the loose-lipped, insult-hurling Donald Trump. “Words can be misinterpreted.”
But it was the Democratic nominee, generally so careful with her language, whose own inelegant prose seemed to level invective at some 20 percent of the American electorate Friday night, when she plopped them all into a big “basket of deplorables” while addressing supporters at an LGBT fundraiser in New York City. . .
Perhaps the greatest effect of “deplorables” will be on the psychology of Clinton’s campaign. Coming days after NBC’s Matt Lauer seemed to give Trump a fact-check-free pass during a live presidential forum — after grilling Clinton aggressively on her email use — it uncorked a huge amount of pent-up frustration at the Democratic nominee’s Brooklyn headquarters. There, many Clinton operatives saw the Republican outrage and media attention devoted to Clinton’s words as the latest example of an absurd double standard at work. . .
Clinton campaign officials also said they believed they could make a virtue in the coming days out of their swift cleanup on Aisle Six — a leader can express regret, they pointed out, whereas Trump has never apologized for any of the insults he has hurled at a war veteran, a disabled reporter, a gold star family, and more. (Trump, in fact, urged Romney in 2012 not to apologize for his “47 percent” comments.). . .
Added longtime Clinton ally Paul Begala: “It is simply true that Donald Trump has electrified the racist fringe in America, and that is really critical for her to raise.”
That discussion, Begala said, helps energize the two groups that Clinton needs to win the election: college-educated white voters, who Democrats have never won; and the millennials that overwhelmingly rejected Clinton for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.
“I don’t think it’s a gaffe,” Begala added, “I think it’s a really important strategy. This fires up her voters.”
Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine says Hillary doesn’t need to apologize, according to Breitbart.
Harper Neidig writes at The Hill that Democrat Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kane claims Hillary Clinton need not apologize for her remarks when she referred to half of Donald Trumps supporters as a “basket of deplorables” at a fundraiser hosted by singer Barbara Streisand. . .
“She said, ‘Look, I’m generalizing here, but a lot of his support is coming from this odd place, that he’s given a platform to the alt-right and white nationalists,’ ” Kaine told the Washington Post.
“But then she went on to say, ‘Look, there’s also a number of his supporters that have economic anxieties, and we’ve got to speak to those.’ ”
And TalkingPointsMemo says it’s important that Hillary not back down.
It may have been easier not to say this and left herself vulnerable to a faux-populist counterattack. But she did say it. She cannot unsay it. And since it is not only basically true but in fact a matter of central importance to the entire election, it is truly critical that she not back down.
If there’s nothing else we’ve learned from this cycle we should have learned the centrality of ‘dominance’ politics. Campaigns are performative displays of strength, resolve. To back down, apologize or cower would not only play into Trump’s dominance politics routine, it would make Clinton look weak. It would deepen suspicions that she has no beliefs or will change them out of convenience. Far more importantly though, backing down would demoralize her supporters since it would amount to apologizing for or backing down from and delegitimizing what is in fact a central truth of the election. . .
We know what Trump advises: never apologize. This is a key element of Republican dominance politics, a language which I have said most Republicans know but which is Trump’s native language.
And why shouldn’t she apologize? First, as noted, “some” of Trump’s supporters, such as David Duke, are racists. Second, she’s firing up her base, which has been dispirited lately. Third, it gave her a chance to quickly “explain,” whereas Trump just doubles-down. Fourth, an apology might be seen as weakness. And Fifth, as just mentioned, this year’s politics is about “dominance.” Being outrageous is what gets the headlines. By being offensive, one can control the news cycle. And that’s particularly important for Hillary right now. . .
Because it was, according to Huffington Post, a clever ruse to change the topic of discussion from her email troubles to a question of “how many” of Trump’s supporters are actually despicable.
What Clinton’s campaign chose to do was to take a third route. They played Trump’s game, apologizing without an actual apology for speaking in controversial terms about a certain demographic. In a statement offered on Saturday, Clinton said she regretted estimating the percentage of Trump supporters who are “deplorables” but not the use of the word itself. . .
Debating what percentage of Trump’s base is racist certainly is preferable to talking about email protocols. But beyond that, the campaign’s goal, since the convention, has been to cleave moderate Republican voters away from Trump. An extended discussion of his incendiary comments, his campaign and his own nature is not the worst vehicle to do that. . .
But Clinton’s supporters are prepared to litigate this debate precisely because they feel that analogy falls short. Clinton wasn’t talking about half the country, just half of the people who support Trump. And while Romney castigated the poor for being government moochers, she was attacking, well, racists and racism–terrain that is a bit easier to defend.
One might also say that Hillary’s “mistake” was due to the fact that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia earlier in the day, and just wasn’t thinking straight. The problem with that interpretation is that Hillary has been giving this same basic speech for several weeks.
These analyses may or may not be accurate, but it’s probably clear that this is a new salvo of an already way too nasty campaign. And it’s likely to get worse from here on.