Donald Trump’s biggest problem is Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton. Clinton can attack Trump all she wants, but there is no charge she can make against him that doesn’t also draw attention to her own weaknesses. Yesterday, Clinton gave a full-scale broadside against Trump. What she said about Trump in her so-called foreign-policy speech was probably mostly true, but probably mostly ineffective as well.
Almost no one thinks President Obama’s foreign policies have been effective, and there is no case to be made that Clinton was an effective secretary of state. She was complicit in the disastrous foreign-policy formulations that have been made during the Obama administration — policies that have left the United States fighting two wars while pretending we aren’t, that have set us adrift from our historical alliances and that have weakened our position in Asia as China aggressively fills the vacuum in the region left by America’s decline.
And that’s just on foreign policy.
It is safe to say that presidential campaigns are mostly about peace, prosperity and the character of the candidates. In none of these categories does Clinton approach the court of public opinion with clean hands. Most voters do not want an Obama third term — yet in order to get through the primaries, Clinton has had to embrace all things Obama. She has had to embrace the weakest economic growth of any postwar recovery and the first recovery where the economy did not grow at least three percent in any year following the end of the last recession. She has had to temporarily disassociate herself from longtime Clinton family allies and benefactors on Wall Street and in the business community while espousing Obama’s anti-business mantra. Not to mention, she has had to swing to the left to adopt Sen. Bernie Sanders’ wacky positions on the minimum wage, trade, the Keystone XL pipeline and whatever else.
And incredibly, Clinton is viewed as more of a shyster than The Donald. In the latest Quinnipiac University poll, 44 percent say that Trump is more honest and trustworthy, compared with 39 percent who say the same about Hillary Clinton. Nobody trusts her, and that’s not just because of topical headlines. Clinton has been in the public eye in one form or another for nearly 30 years. Voters have learned not to trust her.
Suffice it to say, the Democrats’ 2016 campaign message has an infection, and it can’t be cured with Clinton at the helm. Anything she says about war and peace, the economy and jobs or about her trustworthiness might as well be accompanied by a laugh track.
Again, the bottom line is she can’t really hurt Trump as much as Trump can hurt himself. And Trump is doing his part. Simply put, a lot of people want to be against Clinton, but they can’t bring themselves to be for Trump because of the intemperate, borderline things he says on almost a daily basis. Trump supplies an endless list of jaw-dropping distractions, from his insults against the decent judge who is presiding over Trump University lawsuits, to his tirades against relatively anonymous journalists, to his upcoming surreal appearance at a hotel ribbon-cutting in Scotland to promote his own personal business, to threatening the PGA over its decision to bail out from playing on a golf course he owns in favor of a venue in Mexico next year. You get the feeling that if Trump was suddenly struck dumb for a couple of weeks, he would actually improve in the polls.
Anyway, the past week has confirmed two things. One is that Hillary Clinton will have a hard time beating anyone in 2016. And two, Donald Trump seems determined to do what he can to help elect her as president.