When people act out-of-character, there’s usually a reason. And when intelligent people do stupid things in strategic situations, one must wonder what the strategy was. We previously explored why Hillary Clinton said that “half” of Donald Trump’s followers were “a basket of deplorables.” Some people thought it had been a case of honesty in private, like Mitt Romney’s 2012 claim that 47% of Americans (ie, Democrats) were, well, deplorable.

The trouble with that interpretation is that Romney’s comment was made at a private, fundraising event, surreptitiously recorded—a one-time event. Hillary had been making her charge of “deplorables” for weeks on the campaign trail. Why? It’s a political truism that you can attack your opponent, but it’s counterproductive to attack their followers—because your goal is to bring some of them over to your side.

So, why did Hillary purposely offend Trump supporters? I think there are two reasons. First, she was painfully aware that the entire campaign, for more than a year, focused on Donald Trump—and the outrageous things he said. I have my own experience with this. Years ago, I acted in a fundraising play for the local high school. In practices, the guys wanted to get the attention of the girls, because, well, that’s life.

One of the guys was crude and outrageous. The girls said the guy was obnoxious—but they laughed along with the jokes, too. Two other guys were civil at first, but soon joined in. They were also boorish and lewd, to more laughter. The girls said they were glad that I was the only holdout for civility, but at the same time, they treated me as an outsider, so I eventually joined in with the “fun.” The girls said they were disappointed, but we suddenly became a unified group of rogues.

Hillary’s “deplorables” comment was apparently her attempt to get a little media time, since for more than a year, the nightly news has been about what crazy thing Trump said that day. But I think there was a second reason for her comment. Let’s go back to 2004.

In the campaign of 2004, President Bush’s popularity had waned, because of the unending Iraq War. Some were complaining that Bush was sending “our boys” to die, when his own story was one of military deferments, special treatment to get into the National Guard (to serve stateside), and then, he seemed to have just stopped showing up. Some even called him a “deserter.”

This was a major concern for Bush, because his own father lost his election, even after reaching a 89% favorability in the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991. Just a year later, GHW Bush lost to Bill Clinton. Republicans did not want that to happen again.

Democrats saw an opportunity, so they dressed their nominee, John Kerry, in his military uniform, and pointed out that he was a war hero, mentioning his experiences in Vietnam. Milking the moment, Kerry even said, he was “reporting for duty” when he accepted the nomination. That was an odd gambit, since Kerry was better known for coming home from Vietnam and leading protests against the war. But that’s not the attack Republicans made. Instead of attacking Kerry on his weakness, Bush’s advisor Karl Rove stuck to his technique of hitting an opponent on his strength.

With an attack called “Swiftboat Veterans for Truth,” the Republicans didn’t even question that Kerry was a hero, and Bush was not.

The entire discussion became “HOW MUCH” of a hero Kerry was—and the rest of the campaign was doubt about the degree to which Kerry was really a hero, not about Bush’s non-hero past. Military.com did a report on Kerry’s real story.

The Rove attack was so effective, that we now have a verb to describe it: “swiftboating

Of course, one should note that there was also charges of election fraud, according to the conservative Daily Caller.

A form of “swiftboating” was apparently what Hillary Clinton tried to accomplish with her “basket of deplorables” comment. It wasn’t just to get media attention, it was also to change the focus of the campaign. When there was immediate uproar, Hillary didn’t retract the statement, she only said that she was probably wrong to say that “half” of Trump’s supporters were deplorable. And the discussion began about “HOW MANY” of Trump’s supporters were deplorable, such as David Duke, the former KKK Grand Wizard.

Note that Hillary apologized for the word “half,” not the word “deplorables.”

With luck, the discussion would have made Trump supporters uncomfortable to be lumped in with the “deplorables,” peeling away his support—instead of the common wisdom that an attack on supporters is counterproductive. But her luck ran out. On the same weekend, she was seen fumbling, physically, and the entire media cycle focused on “Hillary’s Health.” And “deplorables” became an odd footnote of the campaign. Opportunity lost.

Up to that point, there was a lot of discussion about Hillary’s health and doubts about the credibility of those who were questioning Hillary’s health. In fact, while she was able to dispel the “health” issue, the new discussion was suddenly about her stupidity for not telling voters that she had pneumonia before it caused her to seem so weak.

Back to today. Last night’s debate was expected to be a “snoozefest.” Both men were known as “nice guys” who have not liked attacking an opponent. In fact, Pence wrote a sort of apology for a particularly negative campaign in which he had been involved.

Therefore, the vice presidential debate was expected to be “boring.” Because of that, the viewership was probably down. Two unknowns were expected to be as mutually complementary as the boring love-fest that was the Cheney-Lieberman VP “debate” of 2000.

In fact, the Daily Beast predicted that Kaine wouldn’t fall into the “nice guy” trap, warning him how Cheney had duped Lieberman.

As noted in our pages, Pence was expected to put a civil face on the Trump campaign, and his only problem was to explain why he (Pence) had joined the ticket, since the two Republicans had such divergent backgrounds and ideals. Pence spent years as a conservative radio talk show host, so he knew how to phrase things to his liking. He knew how to appear stable and sincere—two things Trump has problems with.

If the debate had gone on as expected, the reduced audience probably would walk away saying, “wow, Trump’s ideas aren’t bad at all. He just has a problem ’talking good.’” It would have been a solid victory, changing the public’s attitude toward Trump, giving them more patience and empathy for Trump, and making his second presidential debate easy.

I think that’s why nice guy Kaine acted like, well, an ass. Right from the beginning, he was interrupting and throwing out rehearsed lines. He sounded like Marco Rubio, whom Chris Christie called out in a primary debate—with his “memorized 30 second speeches.”

In the baseball post-season, let’s do a sports metaphor: Kaine was not trying to “hit a home run.” He was purposely doing a “sacrifice fly.” He sacrificed his own gentle image so that today’s discussion would not be about how reasonable Trump’s ideas sound. Most of the talk is about what a jerk Kaine is. And the argument is about “HOW MUCH” of a jerk Kaine was. The issues have been muddied. And that’s just what Democrats wanted.

69 COMMENTS

  1. Terrible article.

    First a major fact check/correction: Mitt Romney’s “47%” did NOT refer to 47% of Democratic voters. He was referring to the 47% of American househoulds that don’t pay any income tax. Romney then stated that all these people were Obama voters. This is, of course, a blatant lie. Many of them are senior citizens, who are majority Republican voters, and the working poor in states which skew heavily Republican. If anything, Romney called half the country deplorable, and then lied about demographics. He later tried to save face by denying every saying it. As you can see, this is not a new Republican strategy. Republicans have always denied their own statements in order to save face.

    As for the Hillary comment, why should she apologize for stating the obvious? Trump has the support of American neo-Nazis, the KKK, Breitbart, racists and misogynists everywhere, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, etc etc etc. These are deplorable people. I know Republicans don’t necessarily agree that Nazis are deplorable, but then again you can’t get Republicans to agree that the Universe is older than 10,000 years, so what’s even the point in trying to reason with them at all?

    I also disagree with the main thesis of the article. The strategy was likely for Kaine to make Pence take responsibility for his running mate. This strategy mainly failed, since Republicans lack the concept of responsibility and don’t care about facts.

    When someone lies in a debate, they SHOULD be interrupted. There’s no sense in letting them ramble on for several minutes, when it’s all going to be predicated on a factually incorrect statement. Nip it in the bud and let the liar start over. If you don’t want to be interrupted, don’t based your arguments on lies. It’s simple.

    Kaine’s mistake was that he was holding back. He did make an effort to challenge Pence on facts and policy, but he didn’t follow through. Pence was happy to deny facts, and eventually they just moved on. This is why debates need a moderator. This moderator did very little in terms of moderating. When you’re dealing with compulsive liars, you need a moderator who will outright say “by the way, what you’re saying right now is contradicted by the facts”, like Lester Holt did in the first presidential debate.

    Not that Trump or any Republicans care about contradicting facts, but it should be stated for the record every time a candidate tells a lie. Retrospective fact checking is good, but very few people will seek those efforts out after the debate. That’s why calling out lies in real time is necessary. Mitt Romney’s campaign knew this, which is why the campaign manager stated that he refused to have his campaign challenged by fact checkers. Facts are for Democrats. Republicans are more interested in lies.

    We shouldn’t let presidential candidates get away with blatantly lying to the people. In a democracy, we deserve to hear the truth.

    • Article corrected.

      But I have a copy of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” you could borrow.

      • I have plenty of friends. Facts will influence people who care about facts. Those are the people I care about influencing. Republicans who only care about “gut feeling” and “truthiness” can’t be reached by normal people in any capacity. They are deplorables. A lost cause.

        I am absolutely done playing nice with Republicans and conservatives of all stripes. There’s nothing to gain from trying to communicate with people who don’t have the intellectual or moral capacity to reject neo-Nazi Trump or Space Alien Romney.

      • I didn’t even mention polls. Are you drunk?

        It’s obvious that Republicans hate women, but it’s always interesting to see how they lose their cool and turn to suggestions of physical violence when the opponent is a woman. Even in the Republican primary debates, one of the goons said Hillary “needs a spanking”. You creepy weirdos need to keep your rage boners to yourselves.

        • Bill Clinton RAPED WOMEN!
          Anthony Wiener sexted a teenager!!! I have seen his d**k pics. GROSS by the way!!

          • Those are serious allegations against Bill Clinton. Surely you know that there are allegations of Donald Trump raping several children? Just for context.

            Anthony Weiner is a piece of shit. So what? What’s your point?

            Seriously, what is your point? Do you really believe that if a Democrat ever did anything bad, it somehow condemns all Democrats? Oh, what am I saying. Of course you do. That’s the same “reasoning” Republicans use for condemning muslims, Mexicans, and pretty much everyone who isn’t a rich, straight, white Republican. Because conservatism = racism.

            • First sir, I was replying to the your words, not mine. “Even in the Republican primary debates, one of the goons said Hillary “needs a spanking”. You creepy weirdos need to keep your rage boners to yourselves.”- Cami

              Thanks for playing. We have the blue dress and the pics… the trial, oh and the countless of times Hillary went in Television to claim a right-wing conspiracy. Kind of like you.

            • And in your last comment please WATCH the SHORT SEGMENT I posted above. This is how we TRULY feel. You ignorant, ignorant man. Do you honestly think a half of all AMERICANS are deplorable because they are WHITE OR REPUBLICAN? Do you see the fallacy of your argument?
              We sir did not stop the civil rights movement. We sir were not the ones who wanted slavery. We sir were not the ones that created a hate group. Or continue to create one…. That was all Democratics.
              But REGARDLESS, if we held a person’s past against them the Senator Bryd wouldn’t have been such a huge influence in Bill Clinton and Hillary.
              I LOVE MY COUNTRY. I just want us to be the greatest one around. I want to concentrate on ours. Repair OUR roads. Work Together to fix our economy. I am sorry. Hillary is and always will be a very power hungry women. She is not the type of person we need in office. Not right now maybe not ever. She lies…. Looks us straight in the eyes and lies. Attorneys can do that. That is why they can do the things they do. Ugh. Honestly I would rather deal with a Trump then a Hillary in my life. I really can’t stand a liar.
              Hope I wasn’t too hard on you. But you are a fairly insulting man. I am sure you are not that way in real life. Maybe you are. We are not a perfect race. (Human) But as a whole we are pretty decent. It would be wise to remember that from time to time.
              I may not agree to your candidates but I agree to your right to vote and be heard. Poor Bernie….. He should have been up on stage. But he was ridiculed and robbed by the DNC. Then add insult to injury, the person (Debbie) responsible now works directly for Hillary.

            • I think all Donald Trump supporters are deplorable because they are either racists or they are at least comfortable supporting a racist for President. Racism disqualifies you from being a decent human being.

            • Can you please watch this freaking video man. What do you have to lose other then your mean spirited ideas about half our countries point of view?

              Are you even AMERICAN?

            • I am talking primarily to his FEELINGS that and I will quote this….
              “I think all Donald Trump supporters are deplorable because they are either racists or they are at least comfortable supporting a racist for President. ” -Cami.

            • I don’t remember ever claiming to be American.

              Answering your question, I have about 4 minutes to lose.

            • Yeah. Hillary has paid off 150 million people. Sounds like normal Republican “reasoning” to me.

              However, it’s ironic of you to make that sort of accusation, considering you’ve been upvoting all your own comments.

            • You’re a fool. Man, you are so easily duped by those in power in the Democrap Poopy. They couldn’t care less about you…to them, you are only useful for one thing…and that is your vote. Bend over, useful idiot !!

            • If you can’t stand a liar, then why are you voting for Donald Trump? He lies 90% every time he opens his mouth. And yes, that percentage was made up, but I know I made it up, and it’s not a fact. President Clinton didn’t rape Lewinsky and the blue dress is not evidence of that crime. And your Republican party of today stopped being the party of Lincoln around the 1960’s. The last time your party actually put the American people first was in the 1860’same. Right after the party’s formation when the Whig party collapsed.

            • You said Trump lie’s 90% of the time. Hillary lie’s 100% of the time.

              The Republicans put the worker first. You just want everything free. That would mean 49 % federal tax. Too much except for you Rich people.

            • I am retired and on a pension, far from rich.

              I don’t want everything for free, but I was taught by my parents and my faith, to try to take care of the poor and children.

              I would like to see the minimum wage increased and affordable health care for everyone. Not putting people in boxes and labeling them as “others” so they need to be treated differently or we need to be afraid of them.

              As for my statement regarding Mr Trump lying 90% of the time and you said Secretary Clinton lies 100%. Neither one of us have absolute proof other than our personal dislike of the candidate. If the GOP really puts the worker first, then why doesn’t your party care about all people? Why did the Republican Congress not pass the Ledbetter equal pay bill? Why didn’t they reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act? Why is your candidate denying the accuracy of the polls? Donald John Trump is a serial liar and there is a lot out there to prove this, and I don’t need Wikileaks for it.

            • Wtf, seriously. Just to recap you made a derogatory remark about REPUBLICANS as a WHOLE. Please, I know you are being rude to more than one person on this site, but take the time to read. It hasn’t been DELETED.

            • Yes, because Republicans have decided to make Trump their nominee for President. Democrats have not made Weiner their nominee. One party rejects disgusting behavior. One awards it. See how that works?

            • I only see what you write. I only respond to your accusations. I can’t possibly understand you. You are not even following any logic. You throw out an accusation without merit then try to muddy the waters. I seriously believe you are either mentally challenged in some way or are not able to follow your own ridiculous thread. You poor, poor man.

            • Oh, I see. You dems are now playing telephone with the Trump raping kids crap. First it was one kid, and now it’s several. How funny. I must say one big fat THANK YOU to the Main YellowStream Media for covering up for Trump on that one, since I’ve not heard it reported by a single lib “reporter” (propagandist), and if it were anywhere close to the truth, it’d be all over the “news” 24/7. What a useful idiot you are!

            • I was merely pointing out the hipocrisy of holding the allegations against Bill Clinton against him, while ignoring those made against Donald Trump.

              I’m not interested in your tribalist paranoia at all.

            • Billdo had more than “allegations” in this argument. What you said about Trump is only an allegation, absolutely nothing more. No hypocrisy here…no paranoia. Just you and your lack of any common sense, whatsoever. And, if you were not interested in anything I said, or your interpretation of what I said, you’d have not replied, fool. Go practice your goose-stepping…das leader is calling your name, slave.

            • More than allegations? You’re saying Bill Clinton has been tried and convicted for rape? Citation sorely needed for that claim.

    • You know a vote is a vote. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that the majority if not all of the members of BLM, a known hate group are voting for Billary. Is she going to tell them she doesn’t want their kind supporting her campaign? It will be a cold day in HELL when she does that. Are the members of BLM who burn, loot, vandalize and destroy public and private property out of supposed indignation, not DEPLORABLES?

      Republicans are not responsible? Both candidates of the major parties have warts, however Trump got his warts in PRIVATE life. Tell me has anyone who has been on this Earth for 7 decades not made enemies. Now Clinton on the other hand has accumulated her warts in PUBLIC office. She has lied about so many things that she can’t keep the lies straight. She has deceived the American people time after time. That people die under MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES around the Clinton’s should give you some sort of pause. This and more while she was in public office. Do you really want to trust her in yet another PUBLIC office, I surely do not.

      About having the moderator fact check the debaters, that will never happen. The moderator yesterday was WAY OUT OF HER LEAGUE. She couldn’t even get Kaine to answer a straight question. Very early in the debate she asked Kaine about the missing Clinton emails as well as the CLINTON FOUNDATION. Kaine gave a long winded answer that didn’t address the question at all. After this she asked Pence a question and he likewise evaded the question. She came back to Pence and restated her question. Pence did answer her the second time around. When Kaine evaded her question she DIDN’T restate her question, WHY? If the moderator couldn’t be unbiased, then perhaps they need two moderators, one of each political persuasion.

      Bye the way, it is a good thing that the VP’s have only one debate. Kaine got his KEESTER handed to him yesterday. And all his constant attacking, insults and interruptions of both Pence and the moderator made him look like a grade A jerk.

      • Only Republican racists think BLM is a hate group.

        I see that you’ve bought into Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories. Have fun playing with the other deplorables. I can’t be bothered trying to communicate with you Nazis.

        • Why are Liberals such BRAIN WASHED JERKS? Opinions are like ass holes, everybody has one.

          While I dont agree with your opinion, I am not now or ever will call you a RACIST or NAZI. But since you have no capacity to intelligently debate a difference you immediately go to insulting me.

          Go away and don’t darken my door again, you TROGLODYTE!!!

          • It wouldn’t make sense for you to call me those things, because I’m clearly not a Nazi. Trump, on the other hand, is.

  2. If the VP debate carried as much weight as the presidential debates, the Democrats could take their ball and go home. Pence cleaned Kaine’s clock. Kaine was constantly interrupting, insults and attacks made him and his ticket look DESPERATE!!!?

  3. That may have been their intention but my conclusion is that if we elect Hillary and something happens to her, we’ll end up with this total jerk Kaine as President. If that was simply an act on his part, too bad, that’s the way he introduced himself to the voters, and I can’t imagine anyone who watched that risking his becoming our President.

    • Considering the alternative to Kaine, in this scenario, would be Donald Trump, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter how much of a “jerk” Kaine is. He’s up against a person who makes fun of disabled people. The jerk factor is maxed out already.

    • You are not alone lar01. Half the time I was watching the VP debate I was also considering not only one – but either of the two as an alternative for becoming president – should that time arrive.
      Having driven truck up and down the east coast, based myself in the “commonwealth of Virginia”, where Kaine had been mayor and then govenor and bragged so much about his control over the police,.. truckers there had been continually harassed and ticketed so much – they referred to it as the “communist state”. Not only that but even local residents were ticketed until their licences were revoked.
      This led to whole communities without transportation to get to work. Regular everyday citizens! Evidently only those who moved to another state like myself, still had their driving privilidges. I’m here to say not only was he forward, brash, and irresponsible during the debate, his demeanor is more like a dictator in a poorly organized foreign country. For some reason he even reminded me of one of the “Bushes” and that is a bad sign also. Kaine therefore would make a terrible “backup president”!
      Pense, on the other hand is a responsible candidate and would be a winner with his experience, as displayed on the debate – humbly and honest yet intelligent. He would tend as well – to become an asset as an advisor to Trump whom I look at – as at least – a dedicated person – regardless of his rather mis-understood course and some what rough nature. I have made my decision – so speaking of the Trump/Pence team – I find myself in agreement with them NOW and am totally convinced they ARE the only choice to ACTUALLY MAKE our country GREAT once again.

  4. Try to Spin the debate anyway you want. The people saw the debate. They know Hillary’s first big decision, her VP choice, was a total bust. People now know That’ll be how she governs. A huge waste if she’s elected.

  5. Crooked HITLERY made her comments during private fundraisers in front of RICH SCUM, not on the campaign trail

    • It might be the ultimate case of projection when Republicans, who support a candidate who openly spreads neo-Nazi propaganda through his official twitter account, try to paint the opposition as Nazis.

      Classic conservative reasoning, though. They say racist things, then accuse their critics of being the REAL racists.

      They have the endorsement of every Nazi group in the country, and then they accuse anti-Nazis of being the REAL Nazis

      They spend decades spreading misinformation and hatred of gay people, then accuse their critics of being the REAL homophobes.

      They work against women’s health care and oppose equal pay for equal work, then accuse their critics of being the REAL misogynists.

      They talk openly about nuking the entire world into a wasteland, then accuse their critics of being the REAL warmongers.

      They support a Presidential candidate who openly mocks disabled people, then accuse their critics of being the REAL jerks.

      The GOP might as well change their name to The Party of Projection and Deflection. They stand for nothing at all, other than white supremacy, extreme jingoism, deliberate bankruptcy of the nation, full scale nuclear war, and destruction of democratic ideals.

      And then they’re surprised when normal people are disgusted by their behavior.

    • Actually, no. She used the term the previous week, during a television interview. And while we have not found instances of using the word “deplorables” prior to that, she has been saying basically the same thing about the “Alt Right” for weeks on the campaign trail.

  6. So, that audio recording that was just released. Trump talks about groping women and kissing them without permission. He says he doesn’t care, he’ll just grab them and take what he wants. Anybody still doubting this man is a rapist should have their head examined.

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