Escalate War of Words
By Shashi P.B.B. Malla & Chandra Bahadur Parbate
Days before another ‘Super Tuesday’ of primaries in California (with a whopping 546 delegates), New Jersey (142 delegates), as well as, Montana (27), New Mexico (43), North Dakota (23) and South Dakota (25), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton already considered the presumptive Democratic nominee, escalated her attack on the presumptive Republican nominee Donald J. Trump. After an overwhelming victory Saturday in the Virgin Islands (12), and a decisive win in Puerto Rico (67), Hillary Clinton is now less than 30 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to secure the nomination (the Associated Press has calculated that she has already done so), although residents of these union territories will not be eligible to vote in the general elections on November 8. Clinton will definitely clinch the nomination after the semi-final round of primaries. The final round of the primaries will take place on June 14 in Washington D.C. (46 delegates) and will be her crowning achievement.
However, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the starry-eyed socialist with impossible to realize proposals has vowed to fight till the very end and told reporters that the Democratic convention in July will be contested. He was going to make the case to overturn many of the super-delegates who overwhelmingly have thrown their support behind Clinton. In effect, he wants to shift the goalposts during the game itself. Even Barack Obama in 2008 had achieved the nomination with the same combination of pledged plus super-delegates. Sanders has turned out to be a very bad loser. Clinton herself has now acknowledged she was on the brink of an “historic, unprecedented moment” and at a point to “shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling.” Giving the lie to Sanders’ claim that he has a better chance against Trump, Clinton has opened up a double digit lead over the real estate mogul in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll. Some 46 % of likely voters said they supported Clinton, while 35 % said they supported Trump, and 19 % said they wouldn’t support either.
However, the former First Lady and New York Senator had already gone on the offensive against Trump long before, by sparing her Democratic antagonist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont who will this week finally have to concede defeat. To all intents and purposes the campaigns for the general elections on November 8 have already begun. Last Thursday, Clinton demonstrated in a superb and brilliant fashion, her mastery of U.S. foreign policy issues in a way that exposed to the bones Donald Trump’s statements and pronouncements to be not only stupid and shallow, but fundamentally hazardous, not only for the United States, but for the world at large. She meticulously laid the ground work for her foreign policy vision while at the same time shredding to bits Trump’s attitude and ideas. She rejected in toto her Republican opponent and declared him hopelessly unprepared and temperamentally unfit to be President of the United States (POTUS) and the commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation on earth. If he were elected, it would constitute “a historic mistake”.
Hillary Clinton last week delivered some of the most impassioned lines of her presidential campaign. According to the International New York Times (INYT), she painted Donald Trump as a “reckless, childish and uninformed amateur who is playing at the game of global statecraft.” In a more serious tone: “This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes”, she pondered, “Because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.” The manner in which she argued with hard facts in a controlled manner showed that she had the proficiency to counter and handle Trump in ways that his other 16 opponents in the Republican Party primaries hopelessly did not. Her audience in San Diego lapped up her polished remarks enthusiastically as she deconstructed Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements. Her assessment of these was biting: “not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.” Combining scathing sarcasm and somber evaluation of the state of the nation, Clinton outlined her core arguments which she will probably further refine in the course of the general election campaign.
She anticipated that Trump would react by “composing nasty tweets”, and he, in fact, did so! However, the sheer paucity of the contents was laid threadbare: “Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton! Reading poorly from the teleprompter! She doesn’t even look presidential.” Merely tweeting and repeating bad names cannot and (hopefully) will not be substitutes for sound reasoning and argument in the general elections. Trump seems to have reached the limits of his argumentative posture and it will be a pleasure to watch and follow the Clinton-Trump debates, and to surmise whether Trump still characterizes her performance as “terrible” and “pathetic”. Clinton’s usual formal speeches have a tendency to be earnest and laden with policy prescriptions. However, this time the INYT found it to be a striking divergence: “a rollicking political indictment that doubled as Mrs. Clinton’s first full-blooded response to Mr. Trump’s drumbeat of criticism about her ethics and judgment during a quarter-century of public life.” Her speech was studded with punch lines: Trump “doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about”, and most damaging: “he says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.”
Previously, he had made a mockery of himself by instigating a self-inflicted confrontation with the media. He had called a news conference supposedly to answer questions about the fund-raising for charities that benefit military veterans. Instead, he ended up spending most of his time on live television rebuking the journalists covering his presidential campaign in unusually virulent and personal terms. “You’re a sleaze,” he told a reporter for ABC. “You’re a real beauty,” he told a reporter for CNN, insulting and taunting the man’s competence. Trump definitely crossed a red line in assailing those media persons reporting on his candidacy with a level of venom unbecoming for the standard-bearer of a major political party. He had “failed to appreciate the role journalists play in scrutinizing candidates as surrogates for the public” (INYT). Because of mobilizing charitable donations for veterans, the day had begun as a scintillating success for Trump. But media scrutiny over his handling the task of moving money from donors to worthy recipients and the timing and source of his own long-promised personal contribution confounded him, and the fundraiser transformed into an uncomfortable test of his competence and temperament. He also labelled the news media “dishonest” and “unfair”.
To add to his woes, Trump was also in the media spotlight for the promotion of his business venture, the so-called ‘Trump University’ in New York, also the subject of court cases. Hillary Clinton said that Trump was trying to swindle America the way he swindled all those people at Trump U., which was nothing less than a fraudulent scheme where Trump enriched himself at the expense of hardworking people. Apparently, the now defunct institution/company was an unscrupulous business that relied on high-pressure sales tactics, employed unqualified instructors, made deceptive claims and exploited vulnerable students to pay tens of thousands of dollars for Donald Trump’s insights in real estate. Not only students, but former employees conceded that they had become disenchanted with the ‘university’s’ tactics and culture. Trump’s presidential campaign hinges among other things on his outsize reputation as a very successful businessman, but the ‘Trump U.’ highlights an unflattering episode of his business career. In an unnecessary twist to this acrimonious development, Trump has now attempted to discredit the judge in the legal case by drawing attention to his Mexican ethnic background. One day after having endorsed Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan disavowed his accusations of bias against the judge and his inherent conflict of interest: “He clearly says and does things I don’t agree with and I’ve had to speak up on time to time when that occurred.”
The writers can be reached at: [email protected]