November 10. The initial shock had receded as each of us tried to accept reality. Wednesday, I threw away piles of New York Times reports and magazine articles that helped me analyze events and opinion during the ongoing months of writing about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton from May, 2016 . I was going to title this blog: Apocalypse Now! But decided to try to find lessons learned instead.
Millions of us who supported Hillary Clinton believed all the experts who predicted a very strong win for her. They used metrics and models I couldn’t even follow, but I was thrilled with their conclusions: “Electoral college numbers over 300.” “Blue Wall.” “Possible Landslide.” Actual results at 92 % counted were razor thin: Clinton: 59,626,295 Trump: 59,428,492. Difference, 200,000. Hillary won the popular vote! Most of outstanding votes are coming from CA, Wash, and Oregon, states she won.
Wednesday night, large protest marches broke out in the streets of major cities across the United States. Thousands of young men and women chanted angry slogans: “Trump is unfit!” “Trump’s not my president”. They waved signs and shouted, “She won the popular vote. She should be president.” During the day, Hillary Clinton had spoken to hundreds of her staff and supporters in New York. She asked them to keep an “open mind” and give the president-elect a chance to enter the transition period. They gave her standing ovations during her dignified and at times emotional parts of her speech. Barack Obama with Joe Biden by his side had spoken in the Rose Garden in the afternoon. He also gave an strong call for Americans to honor the tradition for a peaceful transition period. He acknowledged that he and the president –elect “had our differences”, but this is a “passing of a baton” in the ongoing process of governing. Hearing him speak reminded me once more of how much I would miss him as our president.
Here are some of the lessons I have learned from reviewing the long, tumultuous campaign we all lived through:
l.) Many Americans already knew Donald Trump from his years as the boss on “The Apprentice” that ran for over 15 years on television. He was known for announcing “You’re fired” with authority to the unhappy contestant. During the long primary contest ,debating fifteen opponents, he created insulting labels, “Little Marco , “Low Energy Jeb, ” “Lying Ted.” His audiences laughed and seemed to enjoy his punditry. We saw snapshots of some of his huge rallies on TV and heard his insults, boasts (comparing his hand size to his genitals), threats to immigrants, promise to build “The Wall”, and constant reminders that he was the “outsider to the Establisment” in the race. When questioned by reporters, men and women often replied, “He says what matters to us.” “He understands our needs and what’s going on in our lives.” “He knows what’s wrong in this country.” Bottom line appeared to be that Trump was adored by millions of Americans as a their hero. They had come to know him and liked everything he stood for and said. Were we paying enough attention?
Trump also developed the habit of tweeting daily, early in the morning, and appearing on cable news shows with free publicity from the networks. He would be interviewed and gave answers that some of us thought were frightening. On foreign policy: “I get most of my information from television.” I know more than the generals about ISIS and I have a plan to defeat them.” He refused to divulge any details of his plan. “I like to be unpredictable when it comes to foreign relations.” On the economy, he stressed, “Only I can fix it. I will create millions of jobs and fix our terrible trade policies.” “And on my first day in office, I will repeal ObamaCare.” At his rallies, these statements were offered to the crowd over and over until they became his signatures. Apparently, from the results of the election, we hadn’t paid enough attention and listened to the cheers at his rallies from his supporters. They agreed with him and liked everything they heard.
2.) Hillary Clinton was also well known to the American public. Her first job was with the Children’s Defense Fund. She became a respected First Lady when Bill Clinton served two terms as president. Then, she was elected Senator from New York for two terms and Secretary of State for Barack Obama in his first term.. She traveled to 112 countries and rebuilt our reputation abroad. As senator, she had been an advocate for the 9/11 first responders, and had worked with Republican senators to create CHIP health care for 9 million children. Whenever Hillary held public office, she had high approval ratings. During the general campaign, polls showed high marks for “experience”, but also “high unfavorables” and ” a lack of trust”. ( Trump also had high unfavorables. ) Clinton was definitely seen as part of the Establishment in contrast to Trump, the Outsider.
Clinton’s choice of a private server for emails when she was Secretary of State became her Achilles Heel. The Benghazi hearing before the Republican Oversight Committee was an eleven hour marathon with hostile questioners emphasizing the emails as harmful to security. The end result was the “nothing new was learned” comment by the chairman. However, it was televised live and watched by millions of Americans. Clinton was cool throughout and answered every question, but the lingering effect was negative as Trump used it often during rallies as an example of “criminal negligence.” He accused her of going home to sleep. She actually worked through the night to get help to the compound where Ambassador Stevens and four servicemen died.
At the Republican Convention, Trump chose Chris Christie to “prosecute” Clinton in absentia. Christie raised different accusations and asked the crowd if she was Guilty or Innocent. They screamed, “Guilty”. Then, “ Lock her up!” At his rallies in the months that followed, “Lock her up!” became a constant refrain when he accused “crooked Hillary” of starting ISIS with Barack Obama, “Pay for Play at the State Department, and other “criminal” offenses. Again, were we hearing the venom and hatred from his followers? It was a warning of how negative they were toward her — no matter what would be revealed about him in the months that followed.
3.) October Surprise! Late Friday, October 7, a shocking video tape burst onto TV cable networks. It showed Donald Trump and Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” talking and joking during a private bus ride in 2005. Trump bragged and boasted that , because he was “a star” , he could “do anything anything he wanted with women”. He said in explicit terms that “ I would grab them by the pxxxy” “You can do anything.” Trump had just come through two very bad weeks in his campaign. He was judged the “loser” in the first debate watched by 84 million people on September 26 by polls and critics. He insisted he had won in a “landslide. The infamous “Bus Tape” dogged him as the second debate took place on October 9. In the days that followed, eleven individual women came forth to relate how Trump had physically assaulted , kissed or touched them over the past years. As his poll numbers plunged, a social media phenomenon emerged with a “Tweet Me Your First Assault” . Kelly Oxford, an author had written on Friday, when the Bus Tape was revealed. “Women, tweet me your first assault. I’ll go first. Old man on city bus grabs my puxxy and smiles at me. I was twelve.” By Monday, 27 million women had responded to her request with their first assault.
Until Friday, October 28, Clinton’s poll numbers and hopes for her campaign and supporters increased. Then, a second October surprise occurred. James Comey, Director of the F.B.I. sent letters for the second time to Republicans in Congress that emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, and that “they appear pertinent to the investigation of Clinton’s emails.” Comey’s action took place in defiance of the urging of the Justice Department not to interfere within eleven days of the November presidential election. This tradition had been in place for decades and was codified into written rules under the previous Attorney General: sixty days as the time for introducing nothing from the F.B.I. that might influence an election.
The bombshell was immediately picked up by Trump and his supporters. They were ecstatic and declared, “The investigation is reopened and she will be charged and convicted.” All cable commentators were focused on it for nine days . The positive agenda Clinton’s campaign had planned for the final week was changed to deal with the negative cloud that had descended. There were no facts, just rumors that the Trump campaign spred at rallies and in ads. Meanwhile Comey was excoriated by former F.B.I. directors and Justice Department officials for his action. His future as F.B.I. Director appeared to be in question.
On Sunday, Nov. 6, Director Comey sent his final letter to Congress, saying the original conclusion in July remained the same. Nothing new had been found. It was two days before the Election Day on Tuesday! Hillary with Bill, Chelsea, Barack and Michele Obama all headed the final rally in Philadelphia before 30,000 supporters. Her surrogates including Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine & Elizabeth Warren had all been at one or two rallies a day the last week across the Midwest and far West.
4.) Conclusion: During the nine days before Comey sent his final letter exonerating Clinton from any further suspicion, there were still undecided people answering polls. There were also independents and women in particular who had been disgusted with Trump’s Bus Tape. We will never know how important Comey’s letter on October 28 was in raising their concerns about her trustworthiness with the emails once more. It certainly killed her plans for a nine day positive finish to the long campaign. Since there were no facts in the letter, there was nothing she could respond to directly.
If there is a villain in this campaign, it would appear to be F.B.I.Director James Comey. He broke cardinal rules of his office twice: First in July with a televised press conference that should never have happened. He was only supposed to give his investigation’s recommendation to his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Instead he held an open press conference for fifteen minutes first, calling Secretary Clinton and her aides, reckless and “extremely careless” with classified information. Then he sent the two letters well within the 60 day forbidden limit!
Now, that he handed Donald Trump two undeserved assists in his campaign, he should submit his resignation to President Obama during the Lame duck session. In what appeared to be his attempt to keep his “integrity” intact, he may have cost the nation Hillary Clinton as the first woman president. He also put in jeopardy Obama Care for 20 milliion people. Medicaire and Medicade. Minimum wage hikes for workers. Free college tuition for students and debt relief. He definitely influenced Supreme Court appointments for at least the next four years……
Joyce S. Anderson
November 10, 2016