Everyone seems to agree that Trump is toast--let's hope they're right!--and one result is that the CW concerning how the Republicans nominated the only candidate who could lose to Hillary Clinton is supposedly confirmed. There are pretty obviously two aspects of this claim. The first is that Trump's sixteen Republican opponents towered over him in stature and that Republican primary voters, in their perversity, reached into the barrel and plucked out the only loser. The second is that Clinton is herself a terrible candidate who will be a disaster as president.
To my way of thinking, the first claim is rebutted just by calling the roll of the pygmies Trump beat. Let's see. George Pataki, he was formidable. Jim Gilmore too. Rick Santorum, who's about as attractive as the previous pope, and in many of the same ways. On the evidence, Ben Carson is ridiculous everywhere except the operating room (I'll accept on faith that he's good in there). Chris Christie's petty, bullying criminality came into clear focus just as early voting began--imagine if he'd been the one! Carly Fiorina's principal qualification seems to have been that she drove Hewlett Packard into the ditch. I'm sure I've forgotten a few but let's move on to the so-called top tier. Ted Cruz was the runner-up. Team Clinton was pretty clearly pulling for him, a standard-issue wingnut who is despised by everyone who gets to know him. In comparison, going up against Trump is like fighting a southpaw. I have to say that I think Trump had Bush and Rubio pegged. The former was too "low-energy" to unearth the Access Hollywood video, despite the fact that a relative of his was Trump's fawning interlocutor, and on the campaign trail about a third of his speech acts were impolitic and embarrassing. Then there's the perpetually thirsty "Little Marco," who's subject to vapor lock on the debate stage, which reminds me that Rick Perry is another of the justly forgotten.
I think John Kasich might have defeated Clinton, but he would have had to fill in some blanks--like what he's in favor of besides saying hello to your neighbors.
Regarding Clinton. I think medicine's Hippocratic Oath--"first, do no harm"--is broadly applicable and that, applied to presidential politics, it recommends candidates who seem most unlikely to do stupid stuff. By this standard, the gap between Clinton and Trump is a yawning chasm. Yes, she has weaknesses. She fails the I'd-like-to-have-a-beer-with-her test, which is a stupid test, and, anyway, from what I hear she can hold her liquor. (Trump is a teetotaler; can't imagine him drunk--thank the Lord for sending his tender mercies.) We're told she's two-faced, as exhibited by her Wall Street speeches. Shocking! The Clinton Foundation is actually beyond reproach, an exemplary humanitarian enterprise. She shouldn't have had the private e-mail server, and the absence of an "a" and a "b" should have persuaded her that maybe "c" wasn't a label for a paragraph. In general, though, and especially compared to her opponent, she's smart, knowledgeable, informed, disciplined, cautious, and determined--all good traits in a president. Republicans sometimes forget themselves and acknowledge that she possesses these traits. When challenged in the town-hall debate to say something nice about his opponent, Trump, who a thousand times had derided her lack of "stamina," praised Clinton's grit and persistence. A recurring pattern in the debates was Trump gradually wilting as she proceeded, strong and steady, beginning to end. Here's a couple tweets from Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, at the conclusion of the third debate:
Hillary is pedestrian and over-programmed, but never made a notable mistake across 3 debates— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) October 20, 2016
It's completely heartbreaking to see Hillary Clinton so outclass a Republican nominee across 3 debates— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) October 20, 2016
Finally, the conclusion to a column endorsing Clinton by Dorothy Rabinowitz, of the very conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board:
The end of the election is now in sight. Some among the anti-Hillary brigades have decided, in deference to their exquisite sensibilities, to stay at home on Election Day, rather than vote for Mrs. Clinton. But most Americans will soon make their choice. It will be either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton—experienced, forward-looking, indomitably determined and eminently sane. Her election alone is what stands between the American nation and the reign of the most unstable, proudly uninformed, psychologically unfit president ever to enter the White House.
So Dorothy and I concur. It's not just that Trump is terrible. Hillary's pretty good.