Every time the Clinton campaign hits a rough patch — the Clinton Foundation disclosures, the State Department e-mail scandals, Hillary’s health crisis, the “deplorables” smear, the WikiLeaks releases — it lets off an IED, from the staged theatrics of the Khans and the Venezuela beauty queen to the Access Hollywood tape and the groper accusations.
Clinton, Inc. assumes, so far consistently correctly, that the toady media will obsess with Trump’s frothing and screaming about being hit. That defense will eat up about three to four days of the campaign calendar, and likely cost him a three- to four-point dip in the polls. After the IED goes off, a wounded Trump recalibrates and inches up more slowly than after the last explosion — only to step on another land mine and blow himself up all over again.
Of course, Trump should not take the bait, and should instead offer, if the charges are indeed false, a two-minute denial followed by a ten-second simple “I am not a perfect person and am sorry for some things in my past,” and then focus on Hillary’s dismal public record while publishing a new version of something like a Contract with America — ten or so initiatives he would promise to get into law during his first 100 days of office. But that is like training your cattle-dog Queensland Healers not to bite ankles, while somehow being resigned to the fact that they can’t help themselves from such inbred snapping.
Somehow Trump, the supposedly astute businessman, cannot envision that inside the Clinton campaign there are shelves and shelves of stacked Trump IEDs, an inventory all primed with the media and fused to go off the minute Hillary hits another crisis.
Clinton’s greatest fear — the logical conclusion from the WikiLeaks trove thus far — is that the campaign will hinge on the dismal economy, record debt, a war against police, Islamic terrorism, newly emboldened enemies abroad, illegal immigration, the Obamacare disaster, and her past ineptitude in office. With less than a month left, her campaign is now reduced to the easy enough gift narrative of Trump as pervert and creep, followed by three to four days of furious Trump denials — and then on to the next exploding land mine.
It would be as redundant to say Trump’s past vulgarity and detour rants (what the media calls “temperament”) made him uniquely a plodding target as it is banal to drag up again old Heraclitus (“character is fate”).
But, in fact, it is a little more complicated than that. Is an imploding Target Trump all that new? George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 largely because of a late IED about a DUI that went off five days before the election. John Kerry and the media almost blew Bush up in 2004 with a forged National Guard document. John McCain in 2008 was reduced to a senile plutocrat and alleged adulterer. Romney in 2012 was an unimpeachable candidate, but then we learned that he had hazed in prep school, was a financial vulture who picked over the carcasses of the defenseless poor, tortured dogs, slandered nearly half the non-income-tax-paying electorate, had a callous “binder” of women, and was married to an equestrian wife with an elevator in their home.