Note: This post is reflecting on the recent account, from two MSM journalists, of the dynamics of the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign.
Ivan Lendl was one of the greatest tennis players of the 1980s. When he finally got the Grand Slam monkey off his back by coming back from two sets down to beat John McEnroe in the 1984 French Open final, he became near-invincible. When the smoke cleared, he had captured three French Opens, three U.S. Opens, and an Australian Open. His high water mark was the 1985 U.S. Open, when he not only beat John McEnroe, he routed John McEnroe in straight sets.
But he never won Wimbledon. He came close twice, losing to Boris Becker and Pat Cash in the finals. But for all his hard work and effort, he simply had no chance against opponents who were strong on grass.
One year, Ivan Lendl devoted his entire efforts to preparing for Wimbledon.
John McEnroe, when asked about that, responded plainly: Lendl will never win Wimbledon. The reason: Lendl, for all his talent on hard surfaces and clay, simply lacks the natural feel for grass-court play.
Hillary Clinton is the Ivan Lendl of national politics. A two-term Senator and former Secretary of State, she–at least on paper–is a formidable force in politics. She won election to the Senate twice, and, on many levels, has been invincible. Her shady past has no effect on her electability.
But just as Wimbledon is a completely different tournament compared to the other majors, the Presidency is a different beast compared to a Senatorial seat and a cabinet post.
In 2008, as then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) showed early promise in the polls against then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in the Presidential race, I remarked to a liberal friend of mine who was a Clinton enthusiast: HILLARY WILL NEVER BE PRESIDENT.
I predicted that Obama would win the nomination, and would be near-invincible if the Republicans nominated McCain or Giuliani.
My reason: Hillary simply is not a likeable person. The moment she stands up, she pisses off half the people in the room coming out of the gate.
Obama, irrespective of what you think of his politics, is, by most accounts, a likeable fellow who can connect with people.
Irrespective of her merits–and she was clearly more qualified to be President than Obama was–she stood less than a snowball’s chance in Hell of beating Obama.
Hillary would lose the nomination to Obama, but would go on to take the post of Secretary of State in the Obama administration.
Fast-forward to 2016…
On the surface, Donald Trump should have been very beatable in 2016. But gaffes that would have sunk ANYONE else barely stuck to Trump.
Indeed, Trump was quite the juggernaut.
His record of adultery, his record with Trump University, his past liberal positions on key social issues, his attacks on Megyn Kelly and others, his attacks on the Gold Star family. All of these things would have made any other Republican candidate irrelevant.
Except for Trump.
One commentator summed up Trump’s base: “they are voting with their middle fingers.”
I know some of the Kool-Aid drinkers. Not only were they very energized, NOTHING was going to chance their minds about Trump. I am not among them, but I have friends who were/are.
When Trump said he could shoot someone in the middle of New York and still get elected, he was correct. I told a radio personality in Louisville that Trump could grill babies alive and his base was not going to go anywhere.
(I’m not saying I like that–I don’t–but don’t shoot me for observing the truth.)
His debate performances with Hillary–while not bad for a political novice–showed a man who wasn’t as prepared as his opponent. This would have sunk any other Republican nominee. In this era of television, debate performances are critical: they are often the difference between victory and defeat. Nixon, Ford, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Bush, Dole, and McCain each lost elections in no small part due to their being outperformed in televised debates.
(Of course, we now know why Hillary was as prepared as she was: she received the questions in advance. But that’s a different discussion.)
Then, about a month before the election, explosive audiotape surfaced, with Trump bragging about grabbing women “by the pu$$y”.
Any other candidate would have been finished.
At the time, I initially figured Trump was done. I figured that, with the Billy Bush tapes, Trump had effectively handed the election to Hillary.
I knew a fair number of conservative Christian women who were going to vote third party or stay home. Trump lost them. Pu$$ygate was too much for them.
But Trump stood his ground. In his ensuing debate with Hillary, he took off the gloves. He did not back down.
And when a porn actress accused Trump of propositioning her–and others started accusing him of grabbing them by the well, you know–a lot of folks, myself included, started wondering if all of these accusations were quite convenient. After all, Trump had been a public figure for well over 30 years.
At that point, I figured Trump had a chance.
My reason? The same reason I figured Hillary had no chance against Obama.
HILLARY JUST PLAIN SUCKED.
Forget about Pay to play.
Forget about Benghazi.
Forget about her private email server.
Forget about her mishandling classified information.
Forget about her promising to put coal miners out of work.
Forget about her dismissing Trump supporters as “deplorables”, calling them “irredeemable”.
Forget about her receiving the debate questions in advance.
Forget about her attempt to hijack the health care system when her husband was President.
Forget about her covering for her husband’s sexual assaults.
Never mind that you or I would be in jail for half the stuff she did.
Never mind Trump’s baggage.
My reason that Trump had a chance: HILLARY HAS NO ABILITY TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE.
(This, by the way, is also why Ted Cruz will never be President. He is intelligent, and can answer hard questions without “filler words”, giving well-reasoned answers that convey a deep understanding of the issues. But HE CANNOT CONNECT WITH PEOPLE. And Hillary doesn’t even rise to the level of Ted Cruz on that front.)
Her husband–Bill–can connect with people. He can tell you to go to Hell, and you would be looking forward to the trip. He could piss on your back and you would think you’re getting a nice, hot shower.
But Hillary is simply not a likeable person. If she had to pass Dale Carnegie to get a college degree, she would have never made it out of Wellesley College.
Sure, she was a two-term Senator from New York. But that seat did not require for her to appeal to 50 states. Her political machine bought off all the right people in New York.
But to win nationally–to be elected President–you have to connect with a wide swath of voters: middle class, blue collar, suburban folks, people with center-right values.
YOU HAVE TO BE LIKEABLE, or, at least, more likeable than your opponent!
Carter circa 1976 was likeable.
Reagan was likeable.
Bush was more likeable than Dukakis, who could not bring himself to want the death penalty, even if the criminal had raped and murdered his daughter.
Bill Clinton was more likeable than Bush, who stared at his watch during a debate.
Bill Clinton was more likeable than Dole, who came off as aloof and heartless.
Bush II was more likeable than Gore, who talked down to Americans.
Bush II was more likeable than Kerry, the Massachusetts liberal who, like Gore, talked down to Americans.
Obama was likeable, as Hillary talked like an arrogant policy wonk.
Obama was more likeable than McCain, who came off as angry.
Romney was a nice guy, but seemed more plastic than an American Express card.
Bill Clinton had raised concerns with Hillary’s campaign that she was not connecting with workers.
Bill was right, but it did not matter. Just as no amount of work was going to get Ivan Lendl a Wimbledon title, no amount of campaign stops were going to convince voters that she was anything other than what she was all along: a wonkish scold with a propensity for lying.
Hillary, on her best day, is a phony. All other days, she is Nurse Ratched and Cruella de Vil, all in one.
No amount of reinvention was, or is, going to change that. That is why, if the election were held today, she would still lose.
Hillary’s only hope for victory rested in the hope that Trump could do enough to lose the race. Hillary was not going to attract new voters.
Other than the 30% of her supporters for whom abortion is a sacrament, Hillary had no strong base to whom she could appeal.
Trump, love him or hate him, has a certain charm. Within his companies, his employees–including the women–are very loyal to him.
Even his ex-wives–the ones he cheated on–still like him.
This is why Hillary’s team knew she was in trouble when Trump won Florida.
It wasn’t that Hillary couldn’t have won without Florida; in fact, mathematically she only needed to carry one swing state and not lose the typical bellwether states that Democrats typically carry in Presidential elections.
Her problem with Florida is that, in the runup to the election, she was polling well in Florida. And if she was was polling well in Florida, only to lose on election day, the chances were high that the same dynamic would play out in other swing states, like Ohio and North Carolina.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what happened: Trump took Florida, North Carolina, AND Ohio.
While Hillary took Virginia–the swing state she needed–she was vulnerable in other states that she did not figure were a problem.
Unfortunately for her, the same dynamic that produced a Trump win in Florida had put Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa in play. These were states that Hillary had counted on to win.
Trump routed Hillary in Iowa. It wasn’t even close. She lost a state that had not gone Republican since Bush I.
Topiing it off, Trump won Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. These states had not gone Republican in nearly 30 years.
Hillary failed to secure the voters in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Madison, and Des Moines who would have been able to deliver Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa to her. Some of that is due to those cities being in fundamental decline.
But make no mistake: she lost those states for one reason: SHE SUCKED.
No amount of Soros money, no amount of focus groups, no amount of campaign stops to dying cities like Detroit would have helped her.
James Comey didn’t lose that election for her.
The Russians didn’t lose the election for her.
Anthony Weiner did not lose the election for her.
Huma Abedin did not lose the election for her.
The NRA did not lose the election for her.
Hillary Clinton lost because she is Hillary Clinton.
If Hillary Clinton runs again, she will lose.
She will lose because she is Hillary Clinton.