The “basket of deplorables” remark by Hillary Clinton on Friday at an LGBT fundraiser in New York has boomeranged against her bid to the presidency, forcing her damage control team to come to the rescue.
Whether her “basket of deplorables” comment has all that it takes for Hillary to lose is, of course, another story.
In fact, Hillary is not the first to fall into this mess, as Domenico Montanaro of NPR explained.
“The remarks also remind of inflammatory remarks in recent presidential elections on both sides — from Barack Obama’s assertion in 2008 that people in small towns are ‘bitter’ and ‘cling to guns or religion,’ to Mitt Romney’s 2012 statement that 47 percent of Americans vote for Democrats because they are ‘dependent upon government’ and believe they are ‘victims,’ to his vice presidential pick Paul Ryan’s comment that the country is divided between ‘makers and takers.'”
So Clinton may still win, as did Obama in 2008; or lose, as did Romney in 2012. Theoretically, her fate is now at the mercy of “half” of Donald Trump’s supporters fit into a “basket of deplorables,” all of whom she called in no uncertain terms as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it.”
Trump, who made things even worse, is to blame, according to Clinton.
“He has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now some of those folks, they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America,” the Democratic presidential contender added, as quoted by Montanaro.
After realizing that such a provocative remark quickly proved to be a real threat to her political ambition, infuriating conservatives, who, according to Montanaro, threatened to “once again throw salt in the wound of the American cultural divide in a presidential election that has seen vitriol and insults,” Clinton quickly backpedaled.
“Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong,” Clinton said in a statement on Saturday afternoon, as quoted by CNN.
Not surprisingly, capitalizing on his rival’s “basket of deplorables” comment was Donald Trump himself, calling it “the worst mistake of the political season.”
“For the first time in a long while, her true feelings came out, showing bigotry and hatred for millions of Americans,” the Republican presidential candidate said.
As CNN had it, forcefully condemning Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” remark “in the strongest possible terms” was Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence.
“The truth of the matter is that the men and women who support Donald Trump’s campaign,” Pence said, “are hard-working Americans, farmers, coal miners, teachers, veterans, members of our law enforcement community, members of every class of this country, who know that we can make America great again.”
“Let me just say, from the bottom of my heart, Hillary. They are not a basket of anything. They are Americans and they deserve your respect,” Pence added.
Hillary may not have been wrong at every point, as black activist, data scientist and policy analyst Samuel Sinyangwe tweeted, saying that she was actually right about Trump’s supporter.
Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic could not help but agree, noting that while Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” was politically incorrect, it doesn’t follow that she was wrong about Trump’s supporters.
“We know, for instance, some nearly 60 percent of Trump’s supporters hold ‘unfavorable views’ of Islam, and 76 percent support a ban on Muslims entering the United States,” Coates said. “We know that some 40 percent of Trump’s supporters believe blacks are more violent, more criminal, lazier, and ruder than whites. Two-thirds of Trump’s supporters believe the first black president in this country’s history is not American.”
“These claims are not ancillary to Donald Trump’s candidacy, they are a driving force behind it,” Coates went on to say.
[Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]