Donald Trump and the Clintons back in the day. Photo via NBC News.
Over the past few weeks, the political press has settled into a pattern I was hoping we could avoid in 2016: the normalization of the presidential campaign. With increasing frequency, the media are ignoring or playing down negative news about Donald Trump while throwing a collective fit over Hillary Clinton’s appearances of possibilities of rumors of wrongdoing.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman—whose paper has been a prime offender—warned on Monday that the race is in danger of turning into Bush versus Gore all over again. He wrote: “True, there aren’t many efforts to pretend that Donald Trump is a paragon of honesty. But it’s hard to escape the impression that he’s being graded on a curve.” Writing in the Atlantic, James Fallows provides a thorough overview of exactly how the media’s “normalizing approach” is playing out.
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Some facts about Hillary Clinton’s damn emails (here’s the Washington Post account of Friday’s news.)
1. Hillary Clinton had the right to delete her personal email.
2. Congressional Republicans asked her not to do so. They didn’t subpoena her personal emails. This was nothing more than, “Will you please save your personal emails so we can pore through them?” “Uh, no.”
3. It’s possible that she deleted non-personal emails, and if that’s the case, we will likely never know. But that would have been just as true if she had handled her email the way she was supposed to.
4. We know that Colin Powell was using his personal email account for official business, and that he and Clinton communicated about it. He says he was careful not to route classified information through his personal account, but it seems unlikely in the extreme that he could have prevented anyone from sending classified information *to him*.
5. We have no idea what might be in her personal emails. As the late, great Jerry Williams used to say, “What do I have to hide? Everything.” We don’t really know how she lives her personal life, nor are we entitled to know.
More. From Kevin Drum at Mother Jones: “This report is pretty much an almost complete exoneration of Hillary Clinton.”
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Hillary Clinton in 2015. Photo by Hillary for Iowa.
On Monday, the New York Times posted a deeply unserious article about the alleged effect of Anthony Weiner’s latest transgressions on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign; it appears on today’s front page. Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, who announced that she and her husband are separating, is Clinton’s top aide. Under the home-page headline “Weiner’s Texts Cast a New Cloud Over Clinton Campaign,” Amy Chozick and Patrick Healy write:
Mr. Weiner’s extramarital behavior also threatens to remind voters about the troubles in the Clintons’ own marriage over the decades, including Mrs. Clinton’s much-debated decision to remain with then-President Bill Clinton after revelations of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Ms. Abedin’s choice to separate from her husband evokes the debates that erupted over Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the Lewinsky affair, a scandal her campaign wants left in the past.
Apparently everything reminds the Times of Monica Lewinsky, but I suspect that’s the Times‘s problem, not Clinton’s.
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Donald Trump suggested this afternoon that Hillary Clinton be assassinated if she appoints judges who would restrict gun rights. His campaign is trying to spin it. But surely everyone understands that the Orange Menace just crossed the last remaining line.
It’s no longer a matter of whether Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, et al. will unendorse him. It’s whether they have the integrity and patriotism to invoke whatever emergency measures exist to remove him from the ticket.
Update: Charlie Pierce shares similar thoughts.
And now this:
Suddenly we have relevance. Today’s New York Post features a large front-page photo of Melania Trump and another woman, both of them nude and in an erotic embrace. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, is among the most anti-gay elected officials in the country. Someone needs to question Pence about this. Would he allow Mrs. Trump to buy a cake in Indiana?
In retrospect, Michael Bloomberg’s speech on Wednesday may have been the most important of the Democratic National Convention. By explicitly framing the contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as a clash between sanity and insanity, between competence and incompetence, the former New York City mayor provided a framework not only for Clinton’s acceptance speech but for the rest of the campaign.
“Let’s elect a sane, competent person with international experience,” the Republican-turned-independent said in his plodding manner. “The bottom line is: Trump is a risky, reckless, and radical choice, and we can’t afford to make that choice. Now, I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless. No candidate is. But she is the right choice and the responsible choice in this election.”
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If Michelle Obama had gone on any longer, she risked being nominated for president. What a magnificent speech from a great First Lady.