Why did Hillary Clinton reward Debbie Wasserman Schultz after WikiLeaks published emails that exposed how the supposedly neutral DNC Chair helped undermine Bernie Sanders and abused her office? Clinton elevated the disgraced operative to Honorary Co-Chair of her campaign, further enraging Bernie’s army of supporters.
What could enrage them more? Maybe choosing a moderate, rather than a progressive, to be her running mate? Oh wait, Clinton did that, too. She picked Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, who is not popular with the Sanders-Warren set.
There are two possible explanations for the boneheaded Schultz decision. Either Schultz was working during the primary season on orders from Clinton, and thus had to be rewarded for taking the fall. (WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has promised that he will be releasing more emails; perhaps some of those will reveal communications between Clinton and Schultz operatives.) Or else Hillary is confident that Bernie’s supporters will turn out for her because she sees Donald Trump as so especially loathsome.
If the latter is true, Hillary Clinton is in trouble. Not just because her political instincts are truly terrible, but because of this: almost nobody wants Clinton to be elected president. Well, other than Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and maybe Chelsea. She faces a profound enthusiasm gap, which has only widened in recent months.
A mere 33 percent of Democrats in a recent poll said they were very enthusiastic about voting for Clinton. Only 79 percent of Democrat voters say they will “definitely vote” in the upcoming election, compared to 86 percent of Republicans – a serious disadvantage for the former First Lady. Only 72 percent of Independents vow to come out on Election Day, and only 33 percent of that group say they’ll vote for Clinton; 40 percent expect to cast a ballot for Trump. That’s what you get for so many lies and for promising four more years – a campaign slogan as riveting as a live reading of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
The leaders of the divided Democratic Party are counting on antipathy to Donald Trump to unite their party. Heaping scorn on the GOP nominee is the underlying theme of their convention, not lauding Hillary Clinton. Michele Obama, the most popular speaker at the opening night of the Democrat gathering in Philadelphia, praised the presumptive nominee saying, “What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure. She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life.”
Not exactly warm and fuzzy, Michele’s words conjure up Hillary Clinton stoically gutting it out before the Benghazi Committee or facing down journalists questioning her use of a private email server – not the image you might want voters to recall. Bernie Sanders called on his supporters to vote for Hillary, “because of her ideas and her leadership.” That’s about the most tepid endorsement imaginable, but, really, what could Bernie have said? Vote for Clinton because she’s an honorable, principled standard-bearer who will fight to keep the promises made during the campaign? He knows better and so does his supporters.
They know that Hillary adopted Sanders’ push for a $15 minimum wage and joined his opposition to Obama’s TPP trade pact to win the primary contest; they also know she didn’t mean it. The selection of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate confirmed what the Sanders camp suspected -- Hillary really is the Secretary of the Status Quo.
That’s why the Democratic convention in Philadelphia got off to a rough start. It’s tough to rally behind a negative – opposition to Donald Trump -- but that’s what the leadership is trying to do. It’s what they have to do.
En route to the convention, Democrats saw their candidate clobbered by the worst polling in her career. A recent CBS poll showed that 67 percent of the country thinks Hillary Clinton is dishonest. Think about that. More than two-thirds of the country, not just of Republicans, think Clinton is deceitful. That survey shows Clinton and Trump in a dead heat, even though Trump has raised only $67 million to Clinton’s $335 million. (Sanders’ supporters are highly skeptical that Hillary wants to get “big money” out of politics, and they should be.) Even though Trump has supposedly offended nearly every slice of the population that Democrats have carved out, still, they are tied.
CNN’s most recent poll shows Clinton’s “favorables” are down to 39 percent -- the lowest according to that organization since April 1992 when she haughtily (and ham-fistedly) pushed for a government takeover of our healthcare system. Gallup concurs, with a 38 percent favorable number, the worst of her 24-year public career.
Towards the end of the primary season, 52 percent of Democrats or those who lean towards the Left had a net favorable opinion of Bernie Sanders. Only 39 percent felt that way about Clinton.
So, what Clinton wants to do in the next several months is convince voters (and especially Democrats) that she is honest and that she will abide by the pledges to Bernie Sanders supporters made during the primary season. That’s not going to happen. Instead, she needs to make sure that supporters will come out and vote. To do that, she needs to make Donald Trump into a monster. This, she will strive to do, aided by her stalwart allies in the media.
Will she prevail? Maybe. She has a lot of guns trained on Trump, and firepower to spare. She will have money to burn and a host of enablers. Obama and Michele will hit the campaign trail on her behalf, as will husband Bill and daughter Chelsea and a host of other Democrats eager to keep the party rolling. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will do their part, relying on Donald Trump to offend the liberal base.
And yet, Republicans and many Independents dislike Clinton as energetically as liberals hate Trump. How many voters turn out to deny each candidate a win will determine this race. Hillary Clinton could well win that contest.