Exactly three weeks ago in this space we had the grave diggers turning the earth in preparation for the burial of the Donald Trump campaign. Gross missteps by Trump coming out of the conventions, made worse by a national media that is openly in the tank for Hillary Clinton, were combining to make a Trump victory seem very unlikely.
State level polling in key electoral states confirmed the assessment.
Fast forward to this past weekend and we find the picture dramatically changed. This time, it is gross missteps by the Clinton campaign that are shaping events in this most unusual of election cycles.
First came Mrs. Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment. Speaking to an LGBT fundraiser she said,
You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it.’
The comment made even some of her most ardent supporters gasp. Half of Trump’s supporters comes to about a quarter of the country. You win elections by going after the opposing candidate. You don’t win elections by going after huge blocks of voters.
Mrs. Clinton began walking the statement back almost immediately, just as Mitt Romney tried to walk back his statement about the 47 percent who don’t pay taxes in 2012. ‘Forty seven percent’ haunted Romney right through election day, just as ‘deplorable’ is likely to haunt Mrs. Clinton.
Then came Sunday, the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were both attending a memorial service at the World Trade Center in New York. Mrs. Clinton abruptly left the event because of a health problem.
She was taken to a curbside where, because of her sudden departure, she had to wait for her vehicle to arrive. Cell phone video captured by a passer-by shows Mrs. Clinton unable to stand on her own. Her attempt to enter the van led to her collapse. She had to be bodily lifted into the vehicle.
The incident gave sudden credence to speculation in the conservative blogosphere and on sites like Breitbart and Drudge that Mrs. Clinton has serious health problems – problems that she is trying to hide.
The Clinton campaign came out later in the day on Sunday to say that Mrs. Clinton was diagnosed on Friday with pneumonia. Some antibiotics and few days rest and she’ll be fine, they say.
Even some in the liberal press aren’t buying it.
So now Mrs. Clinton is having to deal with the fallout of an extremely intemperate remark while simultaneously having to prove that she’s healthy when the fact may be that she’s not. Mrs. Clinton’s penchant for lying even when the truth will do is catching up with her at a most inopportune time. What has long been billed as the “Clinton Machine” is not running smoothly at all.
In a dramatic role reversal, Donald Trump for his part is restrained, on message and gaining in the polls.
If nothing else, this election is fascinating to watch.