Sure, Hillary Clinton is viewed as untrustworthy by the majority of voters. Yes, she is about as representative as one can be of the “establishment” — in a year in which both parties’ bases are marching with pitchforks. And yet early polling suggests she is going to beat Donald Trump handily. The explanation is simple: Trump solves nearly all her problems. Here are just eight:
1. Worried about reconstructing President Obama’s base? Never will it be so easy for her to rally Hispanics, single women and college-educated whites. Rather than artificially whip up fear that the Republican nominee is bigoted, misogynistic and ignorant — the usual Democratic game plan in presidential races — Clinton will have the facts on her side. She can run ad after ad simply with Trump talking. That should do it.
2. Worried about going up against a 40-something Republican? Rest easy. Trump is a year older than she.
3. Worried a rich former first lady will be seen as entitled and out-of-touch? Republicans will give her an opponent who is a billionaire, who inherited a good deal of his fortune, who brags about buying politicians and who lives ostentatiously. Clinton will seem like the salt of the earth in comparison.
4. Worried about her penchant for tall tales, obfuscation and misleading statements? Puh-leez. Virtually everything that comes out of Trump’s mouth is suspect. Politico looked at 4.6 hours of Trump speeches and press conferences: “The result: more than five dozen statements deemed mischaracterizations, exaggerations, or simply false – the kind of stuff that would have been stripped from one of our stories, or made the whole thing worthy of the spike. It equates to roughly one misstatement every five minutes on average.”
5. Worried that she is secretive? When Trump releases his taxes, let’s talk.
6. Worried about her Wall Street ties? No one is more connected to financiers, lobbyists and big business than Trump.
7. Worried about her foreign policy record? She is Henry Kissinger (in fact, she got in trouble for citing him) compared with Trump, who is frightfully ignorant on everything from Syria to China. If Clinton’s Russian reset might seem awfully naive, Trump’s infatuation with Vladimir Putin will make her seem like a sage judge of character. Clinton strained some alliances (e.g., with Israel) in office; Trump has outraged and frightened Arab allies even before the primary is over. Hillary applauded a rotten Iran deal, but it cannot be all that rotten if Trump is just going to “police” it.
8. Worried about the Clinton Foundation’s bookkeeping and conflicts of interest? Trump gave $100,000, so it must have been “smart” to support her cause, right? Moreover, his own charitable giving is a subject of extreme skepticism. Clinton will seem like Mother Teresa in comparison.
In short, Clinton’s many weaknesses, which one or more other Republican candidates could effortlessly exploit, are hard for Trump to use against her. Repeating over and over that she and other pols are “dumb” and make “dumb deals” is not very compelling when Trump’s only solution is to hire smarter dealmakers, such as Carl Icahn. (Couldn’t Clinton just hire him?)
And for all Trump’s populism, Clinton can easily point out that his tax plan benefits the rich disproportionately and his repeal of Obamacare with no coherent substitute is going to have people — yup! — “dying in the street” before Trump figures out how Medicaid works.
In short, Clinton’s dullness becomes steadiness, her insider-ness becomes reliability, and her lack of charm becomes almost endearing when you put her up against Trump. Considering how many Republicans she will win over (or who will sit home if Trump is the GOP nominee), you have the potential for a wipeout of 1964 or 1984 dimensions.