We wish Mrs. Clinton, whose campaign announced that she is being treated for pneumonia, a speedy recovery, but we are still reeling over Mrs. Clinton's "basket of deplorables" put down of Americans who support her opponent.
Mrs. Clinton, as you no doubt know, and as my colleague Charlotte Allen has brilliantly celebrated this morning in verse, denigrated "half" of Donald's Trump's supporters as "deplorables" at a swank New York fundraiser. How swank? Barbra Streisand performed. You could tell from the appreciative ripple of laughter and applause that Mrs. Clinton had struck a chord with her friends.
To refresh your memory, here's the gist of what she said:
Clinton urged supporters late Friday not to be complacent about Donald Trump's chances of winning the election, saying half of his backers were "desperate for change" but the other half belonged in a "basket of deplorables."
Appearing at an LGBT gala fundraiser where Barbra Streisand performed, Clinton said many of the GOP candidate's voters were "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it."
Realizing that it is unwise to highhat the voters this close to balloting day, Mrs. Clinton has tried, to use the current cliche, to walk back her unfortunate remarks, claiming that she was "overly generalistic."
But she wasn't "overly generalistic." She did not say that many, most, some, quite a few or numerous Trump supporters are "deplorables." She said "half."
This is specific enough that we can even get a pretty accurate estimate of how many Americans she was talking about: twenty million. That's a lot of people to disdain. And, by the way, Mrs. Clinton's view of the other half of Donald Trump's supporters isn't that flattering either:
She continued: "Now some of those folks, they are irredeemable, but they are not America but the other basket … are people who feel that government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures. They are just desperate for change … they don't buy everything he says but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different.
When you do the numbers, the Democratic nominee believes that at least 40 million Americans are either deplorable or too dim to know what's good for them (voting for Hillary).
A Wall Street Journal editorial puts it better than I have:
So she thinks half of Mr. Trump’s voters are loathsome bigots and the other half are losers and dupes who deserve Democratic pity. It’s no accident that Mrs. Clinton said this at a fundraiser headlined by Barbra Streisand, the friendliest of crowds, because this really is what today’s elite progressives believe about America’s great unwashed.
. . .
Mrs. Clinton is still leading, and Mr. Trump is always a driverless-car accident waiting to happen. But it’s also obvious that a majority of Americans do not want to vote for an extension of the Clinton dynasty. They aren’t “deplorables.” They’ve seen Mrs. Clinton in public life for 25 years and they know what they’ll be getting if she wins.
This gaffe may have staying power. As Rich Lowry noted two days ago:
A gaffe is most damaging when it reinforces the existing narrative of a campaign. This is what gave Romney’s 47 percent such sting. Is this Hillary’s equivalent? It certainly is going to have a long half-life and speaks to the high-handedness and self-righteousness of her and her supporters.
Whether it is more like “you didn’t build that,” a gaffe that became a talking point for the opposition but eventually petered out, or cuts as deeply as 47 percent, I don’t know. I do think part of what motivated Clinton’s comment, as well the liberal freak-out over the the Matt Lauer national-security forum, is the stunned disbelief of liberals that Trump is actually in this thing.
It may make them feel better, but condescension isn’t a strategy.
David Goldman thinks the deplorable lapse may have been fatal:
She apologized, to be sure, but no-one will believe her: she was chilling with her home audience and feeling the warmth, and she said exactly what she thinks. The “Clinton Cash” corruption scandals, the layers of lies about the email server, health problems, and all the other negatives that pile up against the former First Lady are small change compared to this apocalyptic moment of self-revelation.
You can’t win an American presidential election without the deplorables’ vote. Deplorables are America’s biggest minority. They might even be the American majority. They may or not be racist, homophobic and so forth, but they know they’re deplorable. Deplorable, and proud. They’re the median family whose real income has fallen deplorably by 5% in the past ten years, the 35% of adult males who deplorably have dropped out of the labor force, the 40% of student debtors who deplorably aren’t making payments on their loans, the aging state and local government workers whose pension funds are $4 trillion short. They lead deplorable lives and expect that their kids’ lives will be even more deplorable than theirs.
Americans are by and large forgiving people. They’ll forgive Bill for cavorting with Monica “I did not have sex with that woman” Lewinsky in the Oval Office and imposing himself on any number of unwilling females. They might even forgive Hillary for losing tens of thousands of compromising emails on an illegal private server and then repeatedly lying about it in a way that insults the deplorable intelligence of the average voter. But the one thing you can’t do is spit on them and tell them it’s raining.
At least, President Adlai Stevenson was funny when he knocked what he regarded as the stupidity of the American voter. Oh, wait . . . .