WASHINGTON, June 20, 2015 – The official entry of Donald Trump into the GOP presidential field was not met with universal acclaim; it was also met with derision, some aimed at Trump, some at the GOP.
The derision aimed at Trump was for good reason. Trump’s speech was disjointed, vainglorious and bizarre. It had a spontaneous, unvetted quality that was almost admirable, without quite getting there; don’t many people wish that our candidates were more honest, more spontaneous and less programmed?
Trump was Exhibit A for the dangers of spontaneity. Candidates should be themselves, unless who they are sounds borderline deranged. Then they should be someone else—someone more thoughtful, less narcissistic and better informed.
Some of the derision was aimed at the GOP. Can’t the party find a viable candidate? Is it trying to lose the election?
Enter Hillary Clinton for the Democrats, a candidate so programmed and unspontaneous that she’s hard to distinguish from an animatronic doll. If Trump is falling into the “uncanny valley,” that disturbing gap between cartoon and reality where lifelike prosthetic hands, zombies and the characters in “Polar Express” all dwell, Hillary has excavated a pit in the valley floor.
For weeks after she announced her campaign, Hillary declined to take questions from reporters. She’s met “real people” in “real settings” where she asks them about their “real problems” and then listens, nodding like a bobble-head, her eyes wide and unblinking, the rictus of a frozen grin spread Joker-like across her face.
The real people are all vetted, chosen from among the ranks of the politically safe, their questions scripted, the settings carefully chosen to be cozy, yet large enough that the press can watch from a distance. These confabs are, in a word, uncanny.
That is, they are abnormal, weird, bizarre, unsettling and strange—all words that equally apply to Hillary.
Hillary on the campaign trail is the stuff of movie nightmares. Chuckie looks more natural and sympathetic than she.
In spite of her eldritch campaign performance and ethical challenges, Hillary dominates other Democrats in the polls.
Bernie Sanders, champion of the proletariat little guy, is just a bad pornographer who makes “Fifty Shades of Grey”‘s E.L. James look like Hemingway. His immortal prose—“A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy … A woman on her knees. A woman tied up. A woman abused”—should elicit howls of outrage from those who defend women from Republicans at war, but Bernie has no chance against Hillary, so the howls are all of hilarity, mostly from Republicans.
Elizabeth Warren, who like Rachel Dolezal treats her race and ethnicity as a matter of personal choice, has travelled to the sacred tribal campaign territories to shout out her non-candidacy. Martin O’Malley says he’s running, but he has no traction and could end up shirtless on the cover of Bernie’s next novel.
So it’s Hillary all the way, a serious and “viable” candidate.
What do the Republicans have? Trump, of course, and a dozen others announced and unannounced: Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, John Kasich.
So, people ask, why don’t the Republicans have a viable candidate, like Hillary?
“Viable” means practical, feasible, realistic. If the question is, do Republicans have any candidates who could win, the answer is certainly “yes.” They just don’t have a candidate who dominates the field the way Hillary dominates hers. They don’t have a candidate yet whose name recognition matches hers or one whose money conduits are as well-greased as hers.
If the question is, do they have any candidates as good as Hillary, the question deserves some derisive laughter.
A number of the Republican candidates are smart and have some good ideas, though most lack the polish of campaign experience. They also have candidates as bizarre as Hillary; Trump and Jindal spring to mind. Jindal is even a Rhodes Scholar, like Bill, but as deluded about his chances as a nerd at a sorority party.
Republicans have candidates as weirdly programmed as Hillary; again, Jindal springs to mind, and his rebuttal to President Obama’s first state of the union address. He acted like Hillary in brownface.
Hillary has shown no indications of being a good candidate this time around. She may be forced to transform into one when she finally faces some pressure from the competition, but now her viability is simply a matter of electability. That in turn is just a matter of name recognition, the absence of a challenge from within her party and money.
Ideas, spontaneity and the human touch are completely absent.
Some observers have suggested that Trump’s announcement speech was the natural consequence of spending years with no one around him who can say “no.” Hillary in a different way has no one around her who can say “no.” She’s the heir presumptive of the Democratic mantle. She has no competition, no one to force her into a better game.
In Trump’s case, the lack of anyone to say “no” has made him undisciplined. He says what pops into his head, assuming that if he says it, it must be true and clever. With no one to say “no,” how can he tell the difference? Continue far enough down that road and you get Kim Jong Un.
In Hillary’s case, the result is a paralyzing desire for safety. She’ll do nothing until she has to, say nothing until she has to. Instead, she’ll continue asking “ordinary” people to tell her what they want her to do as president, bobbing her head while they speak, an uncannily human-like doll.
The Republicans have a clown car, the Democrats have an animatronic clown. That she’s the only “viable” candidate to so many people at this point suggests that it’s not just some candidates who are uncanny right now, but America.