By Dave Andrusko
Sometimes a video can be worth a million words–or, in this case, be an unintentional counterbalance to a virtually limitless number of political ads.
I am referring to a clip posted yesterday by (of all places) the Washington Post of Hillary Clinton speaking about Donald Trump during a video conference of the Laborers’ International Union of North America.
On the off-chance you haven’t heard about it or didn’t know the setting, this is what a very tired looking Clinton says: “Now having said all this” (referring to the preceding litany of items attesting to her wonderfulness and Trump’s awfulness), she says, plaintively and angrily, “Why aren’t I 50 points ahead, you might ask.”
Yes, you might.
There are a great many answers, starting with she simply does not look healthy. I understand that politics is a full-contact sport, but I would never wish ill health on a candidate. Never. But Mrs. Clinton (and not just here) continues to look like someone recovering from, at a minimum, pneumonia.
We have written extensively of how the presidential polls have tightened, not just nationally, but in the key “battleground” states. Trump is leading in several “must” wins for him, such as Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, and leading in a couple of others (such as Iowa and Colorado)that he might well need to squeeze out a narrow victory.
Today let’s talk about two other components of the race which will culminate in less than seven weeks.
Author and political analyst Jeff Greenfield formerly was a correspondent for CBS News. Even when I disagree with him (which is not the case with his latest piece), I always learn something.
The title of his analysis is “The Myth of a Democratic Electoral Lock.” He reminds us that not so long ago we were told Republicans had an electoral lock.
But beyond that, remember (and this is me speaking) Hillary Clinton, as a candidate, is no Barack Obama. He picked the Republican electoral lock primarily by the force of his personality and the electorate’s willingness to suspend disbelief. (Most people knew virtually nothing about him other than he gave a good speech and had served without any particular distinction in the United States Senate.)
Here’s the pivotal paragraph in Greenfield’s overview:
Now look at the states where Democrats allegedly now hold the key. In some of them, Democrats have barely prevailed; Gore won Wisconsin in 2000 by two-tenths of one per cent; he won Oregon by half of one per cent. In 2004, John Kerry took Wisconsin by half of one per cent; and Pennsylvania was a two-and-a-half point win.
Even when you look at President Obama’s two victories, where he won those “electoral lock” states by comfortable pluralities, the picture is less than reassuring. Had he lost Florida [which he carried by less than 1% in 2012] and Ohio, his 332 electoral vote total would have shrunk to 285. The polls now show both of those states within Donald Trump’s reach; add to that Clinton’s troubles in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and North Carolina and it’s not hard to see how she could lose even if she holds on to those 242 electoral votes.
The other component worth chatting about for a moment is not just the old reliable–media bias–but the anger with which many columnists lash out at half of the American electorate and those few colleagues who aren’t sufficiently in the tank for Clinton.
The Washington Post’s Charles Lane, a relatively sane voice on the op-ed page, tries to analogize Trump’s success in the face of a withering, non-stop media assault to “jury nullification” in a column titled, “Why the media blitz on Trump isn’t working.”
Trump is even with Clinton whose campaign and supportive PACs have more money than many nations. Why is she not (as she said in the videoconference) “50 points ahead”?
Or, as Lane puts it, “Why do so many Americans support Trump despite months and months of negative, truthful coverage about him?”
Enter the jury nullification analogy.
The “jury”–the American people–has heard all the overwhelming “evidence” against Trump and ought to “convict” (reject Trump).
But they haven’t. Ah…why not?
Amusingly, Lane has written himself into a corner. The examples he uses of prior instances of “jury nullification” he agrees with. But he is unhappy that this jury (the American electorate) might “nullify” the verdict the mainstream press is telling them they must reach: convict–reject–Trump. Trapped, he lapses into psychobabble and pop psychology.
As someone who writes for a living, I find Lane’s exercises in self-delusion and pseudo-mystification both amusing and deeply dangerous.
P.S. Four days until the first presidential debate.