Saturday, July 2, 2016

Strange days

The Trump theater of anarchy isn't anything like a political campaign, but it does one thing very effectively -- it disrupts normal discourse, and in the process scrambles the brains of conventional theatergoers. While Hillary Clinton is being remarkably sure-footed in her response to it -- hitting him hard again and again, demonstrating her intelligence, knowledge and vision, marshaling the armies of the sane to fight on every front, and maintaining extraordinary composure and clarity amidst the chaos and misogyny -- many in the media are fumbling around in various forms of panic and confusion.

Case in point, this new editorial from the Times. First, consider the oddness of America's premier journalists devoting their lead space not to frame issues but to offer tactical advice to one of the contestants. And what advice! A mix of the trivial and the obtuse. Hillary isn't exciting enough. She needs to be more "passionate." She is practicing "old-style politics." Please. 

Yes, it's true -- Trump will not go down to the kind of total defeat that he so richly deserves. Even a landslide will net him 15 states or more, and somewhere around 40-50 million votes. The map will get redrawn quite a bit, but not completely. And yes, he is speaking to a real issue. Anti-globalization is a real issue, and this election will not settle it, as David Brooks notes in a rare cogent analysis

But that doesn't mean Hillary should abandon her strengths and start trying to compete on Trump's terms. All the fundamentals remain what they are. The Democrats start every presidential campaign on second base, and Trump has already balked them to third. And the correct response to anarchy is not to argue against it, but to refuse to acknowledge its legitimacy. The correct response to a rejection of governance is to govern.

That, I predict, is what Hillary's campaign will increasingly be. Her presidency has already begun. 

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