Having a presidential politics website in 2016 borders on scatology. Many Americans blush at Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the two major nominees, but I flew by embarrassment a while ago and am now more fascinated than anything else. A majority of our democratic republic has an unfavorable view of each of these candidates, and yet, democratically, they became the major party nominees and, democratically, one of them will be elected president in just over 70 days. I’m not sure if it’s hilariously paradoxical or paradoxically hilarious, but in either case it feels like we’re living an impossible joke.
The latest development comes from recent Clinton Foundation revelations. While this charitable foundation has done a great deal of good, recent concerns over its impropriety — directing its funds to friends of the Clintons; receiving donations from uncouth sources; granting special access to donors — has left Hillary Clinton with another controversial link to corruption. These controversies can be explained away by Clinton, who has now writhed and twisted herself so much on past positions, statements, and actions that she might qualify as a contortionist.
The individual charges against Clinton are exacerbated by the campaign’s ongoing refusal to give the media a press conference with the presidential favorite. The Washington Post frequently updates a running (and damning) clock of the days since she last stood in front of the gaggle for questions. It’s at 267 days and counting. Even if it’s smart strategy to not risk a gaffe while Trump relentlessly roars them, such an approach is unacceptable in a democracy where the fourth estate vets the candidate because we can’t do it on our own. The American people deserve to see her in less controlled environments than, as the Democratic talking point reminds us, the “over 300 interviews” she’s granted in one-on-one situations.
Say what you want about Trump — and I’ve said plenty — but he’s had the fortitude to stand in front of reporters time and time again. Furthermore, during the primary he fashioned himself a transparent reputation through hundreds of interviews across the networks (though he’s since receded to the safer confines of Fox News) and an all out assault on lobbyists and special interests (since tamed). In many ways, he brings to the table a lot of what you’d want in a Clinton foil. (Of course, in many more ways, he’s really bad at this.)
As such, Trump has ramped up attacks on the Clinton Foundation, which are particularly effective on the heels of the Democratic Primary. It wasn’t that long ago that Bernie Sanders framed Clinton as bought by Wall Street and beholden to interest groups. He wounded her deeply, and Trump is attempting to claw back into the race by ripping that wound wide open.
It’s a smart tactic, partly because it confirms our image of the Washington elite, and partly because she deserves it. When your primary and general election opponents focus on your shady, corrupt, behind-closed-doors dealings (she refuses to allow journalists to her fundraising pitches), Clinton’s decision to not square off against an increasingly frustrated media reinforces her dishonest and untrustworthy reputation (one that a Democratic Senate hopeful had an impossible time denying). Presidents give a lot of press conferences, and she’s applying for that exact job. However, she’s showing herself to be an almost totally inaccessible candidate…
… unless you donate to her campaign or foundation. That’s not transparent leadership. It’s politics as usual. And politics as usual is exactly what Trump is not.
Presidential Politics for America expects Clinton to weather this latest sketchy storm because A) She’s the co-founder of
ISIS the slickest family in politics, and B) Donald Trump. The race, however, will tighten.