Fox News is lashing out at Hillary Clinton for her recent criticism of Trump devotees in the Republican Party.
“Discussing the recent upheaval on Capitol Hill, Clinton contrasted what she called the “sane” part of the GOP caucus who helped prevent a government shutdown with the “cult” wing devoted to Trump,” Fox reported.
“That’s the way it used to be,” Clinton said during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “I mean, we had very strong partisans in both parties in the past, and we had very bitter battles over all kinds of things…but there wasn’t this little tail of extremism, waving, you know, wagging the dog of the Republican Party as it is today. And sadly, so many of those extremists, those MAGA extremists take their marching orders from Donald Trump, who has no credibility left by any measure. He’s only in it for himself. He’s now defending himself in civil actions and criminal actions. And when do they break with him?”
Clinton added, “Because at some point, you know, maybe there needs to be a formal deprogramming of the cult members, but something needs to happen.”
There’s a lot to unpack with Clinton’s statement.
Unpacking Clinton’s statement
Clinton is correct in that more “extreme” elements of the Republican Party have become mainstream, and as last week’s ouster of Kevin McCarthy showed, have some political clout. Back when Clinton’s husband Bill was in office, the GOP was more moderate, yes.
What Clinton would do well to acknowledge is the manner in which her husband’s (and realistically, her own) presidency created an environment in which more extreme views were apt to grow.
And MAGA does take their marching orders from Donald Trump. It’s unfortunate – that populists would hang their hopes on Donald Trump, a billionaire snake oil salesman who I doubt very much has a shred of interest in the common person outside of the extractable political power.
But whether Trump has credibility, isn’t really up to Hillary Clinton. If Trump’s credibility were up to Clinton, or the mainstream press, or the nation’s elite – Trump would have been disqualified as illegitimate way back in 2015 when he first had the audacity to run for president.
But it’s not Clinton or the media who determines Trump’s credibility, but rather the voters. Trump is “legitimate,” whatever that means exactly, as long as the voters say he is. And at the moment, polls suggest Trump is indeed legitimate in the eyes of voters.
The comment was not well received, and in retrospect, seemed to underscore some of the reasons that Clinton lost the election to a scandal-plagued neophyte: she was an out of touch technocrat who not only failed to understand why people were disgruntled, but dismissed them for being so; the disgruntled were deployable, and Clinton barely bothered to campaign before them, neglecting the swing states that Obama won, and who would ultimately decide the election for Trump.
I don’t know exactly what Clinton means when she suggests “deplatforming” Trump supporters, but it’s consistent with her past dismissals and its consistent with her suggestions of Trump’s illegitimacy.
It’s bad politics, suggesting that Clinton never really “got” it, never really internalized her loss or why she remains unpopular. More concerningly, however, is that “deplatforming” sounds blatantly undemocratic, which cuts against the idea that the Democrats are going to protect us from Trump and his efforts to undermine democracy.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.
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