People react to fear, not love.
They don’t teach that in Sunday School, but it’s true.
Do you think Mrs. Clinton remembers what fear did to her old law partner Vince Foster? He was a deputy White House counsel at the beginning of Mr. Clinton’s administration, one of the old Arkansas hands who’d never played in the big leagues before. Georgetown normally spits out strangers, but Foster charmed them; people were saying he’d get the Supreme Court before eight years were up.
Depending on whom you believe, Foster was either too damn good a lawyer, an upright smalltown guy who couldn’t bear to screw political enemies, or he knew too much about nepotism and embezzlement in the White House Travel Office.
Either way, he stuck a gun in his mouth.
Love doesn’t mean a thing when your back’s to the wall. You have to stare fear in the face and use it, by God. Take it up and beat the bastards back with it again, and again, until it’s your heel on their necks. Or it kills you.
Take Muskie. Remember his corncob downeast Lincoln act? Kids turned out for him, and he looked like a guy who could stand with Brezhnev. We turned him into a bigot and a pansy, a drunk’s husband who takes pills and weeps in public.
Hit the son of a bitch until he stops moving, then let the public keep hitting him as he lies there. Go to people’s fears. Or it’s your ass.
No man but Ike ever won an election through love. It doesn’t heal or hide your faults, but Mrs. Clinton still campaigns as granny chasing the bully with a rolling pin.
After Trump wrapped it up in Indiana, Clinton released an astonishingly dumb attack ad.
It opens with film of Trump calling himself a “unifier.” His opponents then form the Charge of the Light Brigade: Rubio brands Trump a “con artist,” Romney calls him a “phony,” Cruz says he’s “amoral,” and so on. The final image is Jeb Bush shaking his head like an exasperated ombudsman, saying Trump “needs therapy.”
Clinton would call this sounding the alarm, raising the stakes as the general election takes shape. Horseshit. It doesn’t sow fear; it spits on Trump’s record 11 million primary votes. My God, the tone befits a guy who farts in church.
Pay no mind to the bigots and yahoos, Clinton says. We know better.
If your first move is to hit new voters, quit now. Go back to Little Rock. Or Chappaqua. Or Observatory Circle. Run for the zoning board. Return once you’ve learned something.
Trump has the bigots, but be honest: Cruz would have, too. Hell, Bush and McCain did. It’s a sticky wicket but you have to sit with the bastards and deal with them, as I have: Wallace, Maddox, Mendel Rivers. Bigots always fall in line for scraps. So why shouldn’t they be with Trump? It’s a banquet.
The bigot is fat and loud, he throws punches, he uses bad language. But there’s another fellow behind him. He’s 55 or so, an ex-factory foreman. Or a contractor. He has no problem in principle with Arabs or Mexicans. Maybe he’s Mexican himself.
Not that he’d say so. Who knows when his people came over? Who cares? He worked hard, kept his head down, speaks English. He’s American. And he’ll be damned to see jobs fly across the border, or go to barrio kids who work for pennies and send it all back to Juarez anyway. And don’t get him started on the Chinese, or the expense—hell, the human cost—of keeping troops in every tinpot nation on earth.
His son, his nephew, his neighbor, the kids he sees in the papers—they joined to serve their country. Theirs, got it? So why are they dead in some sonofabitching desert?
Once upon a time this guy made Election Day phone calls for his union. He voted for Bill Clinton. He was proud to call himself a Democrat.
Now the factory’s closed, his wife left, the kids moved away, and he competes for fry cook jobs with ex-convicts. He considered Sanders, because “revolution” is a nice word, but Bernie talks like a damn shoe salesman.
Our guy wants a real bastard, someone who’ll put them all against the wall.
Mrs. Clinton’s response? Tape of Pataki calling Trump the “know-nothing candidate,” which might be something if we knew who Pataki was. Then Romney accuses him of “greed,” which ought to get Trump a few spite votes. And Rubio calls Trump “vulgar,” which is the word for Rubio bending over in hopes of a spot on the ticket.
The ad mocks Trump’s ability to unify, but that’s exactly what’s happening. Christie, Gingrich, and Rick Scott are with him. Palin, Ben Carson, Ralph Reed, Trent Lott. Hell, even Dole. He always was a party man first.
Some kid from Bennington or Cornell, feet on his desk in Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters, probably saw the ad appealing to housewives in Grosse Pointe: Romney, the family man from horse country, broke with his party. So his voters will break and come to us. It’s principle over politics. Meet the demagogue with decency.
But they long ago pegged Trump for a twit, boor, and woman-hater. Mrs. Clinton’s challenge is to show why Trump should scare the hell out of us: how the markets will treat a trade war with China, or his foreign policy would destroy American power.
President Clinton, in his best days, could do that. But Mrs. Clinton—who admits she isn’t a natural politician—gives us “Love Trumps Hate.”
Absurd, isn’t it? Most people never saw “Trump” as a verb. And my God, is there an apostrophe in there? It conjures up the old photograph of the hippie sticking a flower in the barrel of a gun.
People want cannon fire, though. They want the whole thing burned down. Sanders is playing to the end, and “Dangerous Donald” will paint granny as a venal murderer, a security risk, an accessory to rape, a woman’s worst enemy since Jack the Ripper.
Clinton’s campaign manager isn’t worried. “Credibility” matters, he says. People want “proof points” and “vetted plans.” Clinton herself said last week that Trump’s big mouth disqualifies him, that he’d all but wipe his ass on the White House linen. “I do not want Americans to believe… that this is a normal candidacy,” she said.
Is that so? It worked, therefore it’s legitimate. The proof’s in the pudding. A political operator—a president—would accept the rules of the game and play to win, not sit on her butt like Pollyanna. Once you don’t care how people feel, it’s over.
Mrs. Clinton’s parade of losers, saps, weaklings, and windbags crying about Trump, her claim to deserve the presidency, they don’t mean squat to the little guy. America is afraid, and fear loads guns. It cleans out the safe. It makes deals with the grand jury and brings the rats out of the woodwork. It sends your Ivy League mouth back to the Senate, or to die on some dumb corporate board. Muskie knew it, and Mrs. Clinton should know:
Fear gets people off their butts to vote.