The buzz on the InterTubes this morning is over some comments that Hillary Clinton made at a fundraiser yesterday. While an argument can be made that the remarks were politically risky, it cannot be disputed that they were accurate – even understated. Here is what she said (video below):
“To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? 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 their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now some of those folks are irredeemable, but they are un-American.”
Indeed. The riff raff at Trump rallies have repeatedly demonstrated their inclinations toward violence and open hatred of anyone not like them. Trump’s supporters include most of America’s most reviled racist organizations. White supremacists like David Duke have have endorsed him and assert that his beliefs are their beliefs. And often Trump fails to repudiate the cretins who are among his most fervent fans.
A poll by Public Policy Polling affirms what Clinton said about Trump’s followers and Republicans in general:
“66% of Trump’s supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim to just 12% that grant he’s a Christian. 61% think Obama was not born in the United States to only 21% who accept that he was.”
“Trump’s beliefs represent the consensus among the GOP electorate. 51% overall want to eliminate birthright citizenship. 54% think President Obama is a Muslim. And only 29% grant that President Obama was born in the United States.”
For further proof, listen to what MSNBC’s Katy Tur said yesterday about her encounters with the StormTrumpers as she covers his campaign:
“When you ask them about President Obama, not just a handful, not just a few, many of them … They often say they believe he was born in Kenya. They often say they believe he’s a Muslim. Some of them go on to say that they believe he’s an undercover operative, a Manchurian candidate, if you will, that has the interests of a foreign power rather than the interests of the American public. That being said, Donald Trump has not backed away from this.”
The response from Trump and his media lackeys is typically lame. Trump tweeted that “Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters.” That’s coming from a candidate who has made his reputation on childish insults. What’s more, he has also insulted his supporters. Reacting to his low poll numbers before the Iowa caucuses Trump said “How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?” Ironically, that’s actually the same question Clinton is asking about just Trump’s bigot brigade.
Many of Trump’s defenders are also trying to connect Clinton’s comments with Mitt Romney’s famous 47% fiasco. However, the two are not comparable. Clinton is only referring to the faction in Trump’s camp who are unarguably despicable. Romney was talking about the nation as a whole. The proof of that is in what Clinton said immediately following the “deplorables” business, but that isn’t getting played in the media:
“That other basket of people are people who feel that government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures. They are just desperate for change. Doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. That they won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people who we have to understand and empathize with as well.”
Clinton has a solid case to make against Trump’s repulsive campaign rhetoric and the dimwits that buy into it. She may take some heat for expressing it the way she did, but the only thing she got wrong from a factual standpoint is that she underestimated the size of Trump’s deplorable basket.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
UPDATE: Clinton issued a statement of regret that also affirmed the parts she got right:
“Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong. But let’s be clear, what’s really ‘deplorable’ is that Donald Trump hired a major advocate for the so-called ‘alt-right’ movement to run his campaign and that David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values. It’s deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people. It’s deplorable that he’s attacked a federal judge for his ‘Mexican heritage,’ bullied a Gold Star family because of their Muslim faith, and promoted the lie that our first black president is not a true American. So I won’t stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign. I also meant what I said last night about empathy, and the very real challenges we face as a country where so many people have been left out and left behind. As I said, many of Trump’s supporters are hard-working Americans who just don’t feel like the economy or our political system are working for them. I’m determined to bring our country together and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. Because we really are ‘stronger together.’”