Hillary: Mateen's not with me

The Republican presidential campaign isn’t the only one afflicted by fumbles and unforced errors. Seddique Mateen, the father of the terrorist who killed 49 people at an Orlando dance club in June, got a plum spot behind the podium for Hillary Clinton’s speech two days ago. After showing up in the video, media sources recognized the one-time fringe candidate for the presidency of Afghanistan, who gave Hillary his endorsement in on-air interviews.

For some reason, it took Team Hillary more than a few minutes to issue a complete disavowal, giving Donald Trump an opening to slam Hillary for his support. At first, all they would say was that it was an open event, taking hours to get around to the full IMF statement:

Earlier in the day, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump called on Clinton to denounce his presence at the campaign stop. “[S]he did not disavow,” Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity. “If that were me, this would be a headline all over the world about Trump. But she did not, as I understand it, disavow this man. He’s got some pretty harsh views.”

Clinton’s campaign spokesperson responded hours later, saying, “[S]he disagrees with his views and disavows his support.”

Clinton had previously put out a statement calling the rally an “open-door event for the public,” and adding that, “This individual wasn’t invited as a guest and the campaign was unaware of his attendance until after the event.”

I’m reminded of Casey Stengel’s lament as manager of the New York Mets during their first season as an expansion club: “Can’t anybody here play this game?” Glenn Reynolds has another baseball analogy in mind, but reaches the same conclusion in his column at USA Today:

After the second game of the 1919 World Series, where the Chicago White Sox threw games in the infamous “Black Sox” scandal, sports writer Ring Lardner walked into the White Sox dressing room derisively singing, “I’m forever blowing ballgames.”  Watching them give less than their all on the field, he had concluded that rumors about the series being fixed were true.

I’ve kind of felt the same way watching Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump run for president. Each campaign is making the kind of unforced errors that, if you saw a ballplayer making them on the field, would lead you to conclude that the fix is in. …

Well, it’s not like Seddique Mateen was the shooter. As Josh Marshall noted on Twitter, we don’t execute parents of terrorists. On the other hand, just imagine the media reaction if, say, Trump had spoken at a rally with the parents of white-supremacist shooter Dylann Roof seated behind him. Why should this be different?

And while Seddique Mateen didn’t kill anybody, he’s kind of a weird guy for a candidate to associate with. Though he has condemned what his son did as an act of a terrorist, he also has praised the Taliban and claimed to be president of Afghanistan, has condemned homosexuality and even said that Pulse, the gay nightclub where his son gunned down 49 people, was partly to blame for the shootings. And yet, there he was, sitting behind Clinton and clearly visible to TV cameras.

The truth is that neither one of these candidates would have stood a chance in a general election against anyone else but each other. That’s why the Clintons prepared the field so thoroughly this year, locking up all of the big Democratic donors and keeping the few potential major rivals in the party from getting in at all. And even with all of that work, Senate back-bencher and socialist crank nearly pulled off an upset over Hillary, who had to get rescued by a biased DNC. Whatever one thinks about Trump’s failings, he managed to beat 16 other Republicans in a fair fight.

Get ready for the rockiest, messiest, and least competent general-election campaign in history. May the least inept candidate win, or something.