Win or may lose in November, there is one thing for which people will forever praise President Trump: Just when it counted, at the moment of crisis with all on the line, he threw his body into the line of incoming fire — and prevented Hillary Clinton from becoming president.
Deserving of thanks also is President Barack Obama, who in the 2008 primary defeated Clinton and kept her out of office through his two terms until Trump could step up to the job. The importance of what these people did becomes more impressive when one recalls that the plot to make Clinton president, whether she had earned it or not, had been decades in the making. Some say it stemmed from the 1980s in Arkansas, or even before that, when she and her husband met at Yale.
“Two for the price of one!” the pair chirped while campaigning in 1992, (happily described as the “Year of the Woman”), while Hillary was sold as a “New Kind of First Lady,” seemingly meaning a sort of co-president, until healthcare blew up in her face. With that, she retired into more traditional duties.
Until, of course, she was called on again during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which made her sympathetic at once to “traditional women,” whom she at the beginning appeared to despise. And then at the end, she became “the wronged woman,” (as opposed to the wrong one), sold as the victim-survivor deserving of everyone’s praise.
Because she had been forced to listen in excruciating detail to every last fact of her husband’s betrayal, she was given a seat in the Senate representing New York (which she never had lived in) and a fast track to her party’s nomination for president in 2008. With a record of failure on healthcare and no big bills or notable stands or speeches in the Senate, she was considered a shoo-in for president in 2008 — until derailed by the freight train called Obama, a uniquely gifted aspirational speaker whose life story and talents surpassed Clinton’s own.
Setting her sights at once on 2016, she put in her time as a member of his Cabinet to gain more experience and made sure, with the help of her husband, that she would not be blindsided again. People who “deserted” her in 2008 for the dashing young stranger faced primary challenges where they didn’t expect them, or didn’t get funded, or saw promised funds not appear. Protected for too long by too many people, she was allowed once to try in 2008, failed, and then was encouraged to run all over again, this time with no legitimate competition running against her, and the winds of the world at her back.
Someday, historians will look back and try to explain just how and why the Republican field of 2016, with its young, diverse field of brilliant young people, managed to end up with Trump after much deep confusion. At the same time, the Democrats of 2020 had much the same field of comers but ended up with Rep. James Clyburn blowing the whistle and telling them to calm down and settle on Joe Biden before they ended up with any one of a large, noisy number of Biden’s competitors.
Perhaps starting out with a large, diverse field of young people who haven’t been tested is not the best model. Now we just have to find one that is.