Hillary Clinton pauses during foreign policy talk in San Diego. Photo by Ken Stone
Hillary Clinton pauses during foreign policy talk in San Diego. Photo by Ken Stone

By Colleen O’Connor

The No. 1 cardinal rule in politics—offer a contrast to one’s opponent.


I am a Democrat. He is a Republican.

I want to save the environment. He doesn’t.

I support the President. He doesn’t.

I want to save the status quo. He doesn’t.

See the pattern?

Hillary Clinton spent the first several years in this never-ending campaign abiding by the cardinal rule.

She was steady. Donald Trump not so.

She was experienced and knowledgeable about government. Trump not so.

Her widely praised San Diego speech marked the pivot point in cementing this difference. She was “commander-in-chief” material.

Recently, what I call the fireworks, the fatigue, and the foolishness of the “end game” has begun.

The polls begin tightening.The hyper-partisans become rattled. Fear takes hold and the steady hands become shaky. A new tack presents itself. And out pops the “unforced errors.”

Trump has made lots of “unforced errors,” but survived.

Clinton not so. And Friday, she night she committed a whopper.

Heretofore, she has survived or smothered the “scandals” of Bill Clinton’s liaisons, the Clinton Foundation’s “pay to play” questionable accounting, the private email mess, the Benghazi raid, the Iraq war support, the Weiner/Huma sexting sleaze, and even the recent “coughing” flimflam questions about her health.

Through all those attacks, Hillary kept to her lifelong motto, “Keep on keeping on.”

Then, she committed the cardinal sin of an amateur candidate—the “unforced error.”

To be fair, she lapsed in front of a super friendly, liberal crowd—paying $1,000 to $250,000 for a seat at the table where Barbara Streisand performed a Trumpian-version of “Send In The Clowns.”

However, this is not the image of a “people’s” candidate.

When Clinton spoke—scripted and on Teleprompter—she attempted to out-Trump Trump. No contrast. No difference. A mirror image of her opponent.

An over-the-top attack. Not on Trump. But, on his supporters—actual voters. Not the GOP apparatchiks, but voters.

This in an electorate that is angry, incensed, finds both candidates unworthy of the office, and still must choose. Why insult them unnecessarily?

Clinton did just that. She called half Trump’s supporters “a basket of deplorables.”

Not Trump, but his supporters, a.k.a., the voters who might, or might not have voted for him. The precious “swing voters” or uninterested, or disgusted voters who might have stayed home.

Look for the GOP to now fund aggressive registration drives and ground games to get these voters out in the precious and now close “swing states.” TV ads featuring headline dominating insult are sure to follow.

To be fair, Hillary did separate the “basket” into the homophobic, Islama-phobic, sexist, racist, supporters and those “people who feel that the 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, and they’re just desperate for change.”

Hard to explain why Hillary decided to attack any voters in a close election.

Many voters actually find some of Trump’s ideas acceptable; i.e., his opposition to the Iraq War; his opposition to the Trans Pacific Trade Pact; his conviction (along with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) that the system is “rigged;” his sometimes rational suggestion that the U.S. cannot absorb unlimited refugees from the Middle Eastern war-ravaged countries or newcomers to the south.

Calling any voter part of “a basket of deplorables” is reminiscent of India’s “untouchables” label for an outcast class unworthy of mention. An insult too big to ignore.

Clearly, at a minimum this is an unacceptable misspeak. At worst, it proves, again, how “out of touch” the insider Clinton team has become.

Perhaps in this election of “blow it all up” vs. “save the status quo” someone needs to represent all Americans—and lead—not mirror the other candidate.

Colleen O’Connor is a retired college history professor and native San Diegan.