Nothing says woman of the people like a political candidate who got filthy rich while serving in the Senate and State Department insulting millions of voters while surrounded by celebrities, right? Hillary Clinton shifted her attack from Donald Trump to his supporters at a fundraiser in New York City, putting “half” of them into “a basket of deplorables.” That’s a memorable turn of phrase, but will Hillary want to forget it?
“To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call ‘the basket of deplorables.’ Right?” she told donors at the LGBT For Hillary Gala, at which Barbra Streisand and Rufus Wainwright performed. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that and he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.”
The Democratic presidential nominee added, “Now some of those folks, they are irredeemable. But they are not America.”
Later, Hillary campaign flack Nick Merrill tried to backpedal a bit from Hillary’s calculations. She was talking about the “alt-right,” not just reg’lar folks:
(2/3) Obviously not everyone supporting Trump is part of the alt right, but alt right leaders are with Trump.
— Nick Merrill (@NickMerrill) September 10, 2016
Nice try. Not even the alt-right thinks they’re half of Trump’s supporters. They are a small percentage of voters who happen to be on the same side of millions of voters who also want a disruptor rather than an establishmentarian. Their choice may or may not be wise, but the vast majority of Trump voters have nothing to do with the alt-right, and probably have never heard the term before. Salena Zito offered a very realistic depiction of the main ranks of Trump supporters in Pennsylvania two weeks ago:
While Trump supporters here are overwhelmingly white, their support has little to do with race (yes, you’ll always find one or two who make race the issue) but has a lot to do with a perceived loss of power.
Not power in the way that Washington or Wall Street board rooms view power, but power in the sense that these people see a diminishing respect for them and their ways of life, their work ethic, their tendency to not be mobile (many live in the same eight square miles that their father’s father’s father lived in).
Thirty years ago, such people determined the country’s standards in entertainment, music, food, clothing, politics, personal values. Today, they are the people who are accused of creating every social injustice imaginable; when anything in society fails, they get blamed.
The places where they live lack economic opportunities for the next generation; they know their children and grandchildren will never experience the comfortable situations they had growing up — surrounded by family who lived next door, able to find a great job without going to college, both common traits among many successful small-business owners in the state.
These Trump supporters are not the kind you find on Twitter saying dumb or racist things; many of them don’t have the time or the patience to engage in social media because they are too busy working and living life in real time.
Those are the people Hillary insulted with these remarks last night. Merrill’s smart enough to know it, too. This sneering, condescending, and insulting stereotyping of millions of voters perfectly encapsulates the Clintonian quarter-century, especially with their above-the-law antics since leaving the White House. And that’s why most candidates stick to insulting each other, and not voters.
In a way, it’s reminiscent of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remarks from four years ago. My friend and mentor Hugh Hewitt spent this morning making that argument on Twitter:
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) September 10, 2016
Islamophobic –you name it." @HillaryClinton MSM memory-holed Romney's on Russia + POTUS laughing it off, now will HRC get "47%" treatment?
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) September 10, 2016
Should it get the “47 percent” treatment? Yes, perhaps even more deservedly than Romney; his (misguided) remarks were about specific tax and safety-net policies, not accusing tens of millions of Americans of bigotry simply for not supporting him. Will it? No, and for one unassailable reason — the media will never start that same kind of feeding frenzy around Hillary. They’ll cover it initially, perhaps even noting what a foolish misstep it was as Don Lemon did in the CNN clip, but very quickly the media narrative will turn to whether Republicans are “pouncing” and “overplaying their hand.” Don’t be surprised if that shift occurs as soon as tomorrow morning’s news shows.
That doesn’t mean that Team Trump has to let it go, though. If they’re smart and well organized, they will soon start pushing “basket” memes of their own — ads that feature the kind of people about which Salena reported, normal folks who don’t want business as usual in Washington and sneering elites insulting them. Candidates for the Senate and House should do the same, and the RNC should make it a major theme of the cycle. If played properly, this could be the biggest gift basket Team Hillary will provide Republicans in 2016.