Hillary Clinton’s apology today for her remarks on Friday – in which she stated that 50 percent of Trump supporters were a “basket of deplorables” – came quickly after the Republicans pounced on her for it.
As reported by the Washington Post, Trump and his cronies suggested that the original statement was evidence of an elitist mentality in Clinton, and highly disrespectful to part of the electorate. But the dual questions are, did Clinton really need to apologize, and are all of Trump’s supporters actually deserving of respect?
Donald’s Trump’s feigned outrage over the comment made by Clinton rang a bit hollow for those who have followed his campaign propaganda over the last year. It was akin to Claude Rains in Casablanca shouting out that he was “shocked… shocked” to find gambling going on at Rick’s Place.
But Trump went even further than this, stating that – unlike Hillary Clinton – he fully respected his opponent’s supporters. Of course he does. And any evidence to the contrary that might indicate he views them as mindless sheep is totally false.
Obviously, the reality we actually live in bears little resemblance to the one Trump is referencing in these fanciful comments. In fact, it was only a few hours ago that he said that Clinton could walk into a Republican rally, shoot someone in the head, and then get away with it. If this doesn’t suggest that he views Clinton’s followers as little better than mindless sheep, nothing does.
But the most wonderful and ironic aspect of this comment by Trump – which was reportedly a deviation from his scripted comments – is that Trump said basically the same thing about himself and his own supporters only last January. As reported by CNN, when Trump stated at that time that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose votes, he was essentially saying that his supporters were so brain-dead and lacking in morals that they would support him regardless of what he said or did.
But beyond the hypocrisy of Trump and his professional spin doctors and their disdain for their own backers, there is still the second question. Was Clinton’s apology really necessary? After all, she specifically said that 50 percent of Trump’s supporters had the characteristics – racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism – that she mentioned in her speech.
Given Trump’s poll numbers, we can extrapolate this 50 percent meant roughly 20 to 22 percent of the American population. And can anyone honestly argue with the contention that approximately one out of five Americans exhibit one or more of these corrosive and highly negative characteristics or that they are drawn to Donald Trump?
In fact, even Hillary Clinton’s apology was fairly nuanced. In the so-called apology, she didn’t actually say that she regretted calling a number of Trump’s backers racists, homophobes, xenophobes, and misogynists. Instead, she apologized for saying that they made up 50 percent of his supporters.
With this apology, it might seem like she’s saying that far fewer of them are such “deplorables.” But perhaps she’s cleverly saying the opposite. During the Civil War, Thaddeus Stevens once made a sarcastic joke to Abraham Lincoln about a certain congressman not being willing to steal a hot stove. When forced to offer an apology, Stevens simply said that he took back his contention that the congressman wouldn’t steal a hot stove.
Perhaps Clinton’s apology is a similar non-apology. And given the nature of Trump’s supporters and Trump himself – as well as the unbelievable things that Trump has said over the course of the primaries and the general election – it makes no sense whatsoever for Clinton or anyone else to apologize to Donald Trump and his fanatical supporters. This is especially true given the fact that Trump has even less respect for them than Clinton herself.
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