WASHINGTON, August 11, 2016 — The world of American politics is guided by unwritten and unspoken rules. Some are silly—for instance, politicians should never point at anything—yet politicians all over the country get around this with the infamous crooked finger point that everyone knows and loves—or something.
Other rules are obvious, as when news of a sexual scandal breaks.
The headlines tell politicians what they are supposed to do. For example, Democrats in a sexual scandal are supposed to resign immediately, and only if they are liked well enough they may attempt return later. Which did not work so well for Carlos Danger.
Republicans caught in a sexual scandal are supposed to clutch their wives, cry on television and say that God will forgive them and go on as if nothing happened. Mark Sanford, former governor of South Carolina, returned after his scandal to run for and win Tim Scott’s seat in the House of Representatives.
The list of rules for politicians is long, but none of them seem to apply to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Both of them have come through multiple incidents that would have put any other other politician out of the game permanently, yet they remain.
Clinton, thanks in part to her husband, has been shadowed by scandal for almost 30 years. She has been caught red-handed, responding either with outright lies or with a shrug and a grin, dismissing the issue as unimportant and investigating it as a waste of taxpayer money.
Clinton is disliked on an historic level, yet still she managed to get the Democratic nomination. Bernie Sanders supporters believe she won because the DNC rigged the primary elections, but the DNC did not do all that much rigging.
DNC staff supported Clinton and were dismissive of Sanders, but they didn’t stuff ballot boxes. Even without DNC meddling, Clinton would have taken the nomination. Despite her history and her poor reputation for trustworthiness, she still has the support of millions of voters. Anyone else would have been tossed out on their keisters long ago.
Trump has a much shorter political history than Clinton, but even that short time is longer than most people would have managed with half his missteps. Most of the media dismissed him as an even distant possibility for the nomination. Pundits were certain with every gaffe and shocking speech that now, finally, he’d crossed the line and voters would turn against him.
They haven’t yet.
Trump has jumped, skipped, danced and cartwheeled over the line dozens of times, and yet he still has a large part of the country enthralled. Nothing he does badly hurts him. Those who like him continue to like him and those who don’t never will.
Clinton and Trump both have strong brand recognition. Most Americans are low information voters; many are zero information voters. Name recognition is everything in this country. Donald Trump, regardless of the facts, is a mega-rich businessman. Hillary Clinton, regardless of the facts, has been a political juggernaut all her life and as wife of Bill Clinton would be the progressive darling of the left.
These things remain so because it is what enough people believe. Simply put, the media can headline every faux pas and illegality every single day, and indeed have often done so, pointing out with bold headlines the outrageous thing Trump just said or the yet another lie Clinton is caught in.
In the end their name recognition will carry the both of them all the way to November and one of them to the White House. In all likelihood, Clinton will win the election and will be in the public eye for a minimum of eight years to come. In all likelihood, Trump will say that he was cheated out of the election and will magnanimously turn down any further requests for him to run again.
Until that time, the two of them have what amounts to a get-out-of-jail-free card. Barring actually being dragged in front of the cameras in handcuffs, both Trump and Clinton have enough name recognition to get away with whatever they please.