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It's Political Malpractice, Stupid

A Commentary By Ted Rall

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hillary Clinton supporters are freaking out. And rightfully so! Eight weeks from Election Day, she and Trump are basically neck and neck. And that's before the three presidential debates, which I not only expect him to win, but can't imagine a scenario in which she does not lose.       

Democrats are wallowing in the anger stage of the Kubler-Ross model of grief. How on earth, they howl on op-ed pages and cable-news talking-head shows, can this be? Why doesn't the electorate -- that useless "basket of deplorables" -- not see what is plain for all to see, that Clinton possesses more qualifications for the nation's highest political office in her tiniest pinkie toe than The Donald has in his whole 267-pound body? For that matter, why isn't the media holding him accountable for his lies?       

"Donald Trump, who lies whenever he speaks and whose foundation is a Ponzi scheme compared to the Clintons', is being graded on a ridiculously generous curve," Michael Tomasky companied at The Daily Beast.       

Clinton says she's tired of watching the media treat Trump with kid gloves -- but she's happy that some people (her allies and surrogates) are finally paying attention: "I've been somewhat heartened by articles recently pointing out the disparate treatment of Trump and his campaign compared to ours -- I don't understand the reasons."       

And here we have it: the biggest reason Hillary Clinton shouldn't be president. She is an atrocious politician.       

Clinton's political incompetence manifests itself in two ways.       

First, she repeats her mistakes.       

Everyone messes up. When smart people screws the pooch, however, they learn from their mistakes. When they make new mistakes, they make a whole new different kind of mistake. Not Clinton. She keeps going back to the disaster well for another cup.       

Take her vote to invade Iraq. It was unforgivable for a Democrat to support Bush. So Democrats didn't forgive her. That vote, and her refusal to apologize, is the main reason she lost to Obama in 2008. An intelligent politician would have recognized that her party's base is generally antiwar, and acted accordingly. Clinton pushed Obama to arm and fund radical Islamist insurgents in Libya and Syria, two of the Arab world's most prosperous countries. Thanks in large part to her, both nations are embroiled in endless, brutal civil wars. As far as we can tell, she's still a nasty George W. Bush-style interventionist -- a stance that may well cost her 2016 too.      

Then there's the email thing.       

Polls have consistently shown that voters don't trust her. Why? Because she's too secretive. Given that knowledge, you'd think Clinton and her advisers would act as transparently as possible. Straight and narrow! By the book!       

But no. Not only does she illegally use a private email server for her State Department email, she deletes thousands of them. When she gets caught, she blames Colin Powell. Then she claims none of those emails were classified - but some were. The email thing never goes away - so what does she do next? She lies about catching pneumonia. (I'm fine. Just mild seasonal allergies. Wait, I was overheated/dehydrated. Actually, I have pneumonia. Had. Two days ago. Gonna be just fine now.)       

Which is why the DNC may be asking themselves if it's too late to bring back Bernie Sanders.       

The second half of Hillarian political malpractice is her stubborn refusal to accept something that she can't do anything about: the media, and the voters, really do give Trump a pass on a lot of stuff for which they hold her feet to the editorial fire.       

And there's a reason for that. People hold Clinton to a higher standard than Trump because she has a long record in government: eight years as First Lady, eight years as Senator, four years as Secretary of State. She has a record. So we know what she'll do if she wins: suck up to corporations like Wal-Mart, push through the TPP and other unpopular "free trade" agreements and start another war or two in the Middle East.       

Trump, on the other hand, is a novice. So they grade him on a curve. "People are willing to give him a pass because he doesn't have a career in service," said Lanhee Chen, an advisor to Romney in 2012. If he doesn't know from Ouagadougou, people accept that. He'll figure that stuff out, hire some people. No one knows what he'd do - which, in a change year, is at the core of his appeal.       

It may not be fair. It certainly isn't a good way to choose a president. "I think it's the wrong approach because you should be assessing the candidate's readiness to do the job," Chen continued.       

But that's how it is. If Hillary Clinton were a talented politician, she'd get over the double standard, stop whining that we expect too much from her, and prove herself worthy of that high bar -- by convincing voters that she has a big vision to address their concerns.       

I won't hold my breath.       

Ted Rall is author of "Trump: A Graphic Biography," an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form.

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