“Basket of Deplorables”: Hillary’s Final Mistake?
At a fundraiser in Manhattan on Friday, Hillary Clinton showed the world why her poll numbers are inversely dependent on how much she stays out of the spotlight.
“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of depolorables,” she said. “The racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And 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 their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.”
The hashtag #basketofdeplorables began trending on Twitter almost immediately; by the next morning, Breitbart had already purchased the URL and redirected it to their homepage. Pundits from both sides of the political spectrum compared Hillary’s remarks to Mitt Romney’s infamous “47%” remark from 2012, where the Republican nominee was caught on video waving off millions of Americans dependent on government entitlements.
“Wow,” Donald Trump said on Twitter, “Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard working people. I think it will cost her at the polls!”
Less than 24 hours after the fundraiser, Hillary appeared to recognize the danger she was in. She released a statement backing away from the comments…somewhat.
“Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea,” she said. “I regret saying ‘half’ – that was wrong.”
But Hillary couldn’t bring herself to walk it back entirely. “It’s deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a platform to hateful views and voices,” she said.
The goal, of course, is to divide the “hateful” segment of Trump’s supporters from the regular Republicans who are just along for the ride. But with comments like these, Hillary is only strengthening the Trump coalition. 2016 is a unique election and Trump is a unique Republican nominee, but there are ways in which this election is like all the ones we’ve had up till now. Including the fact that voters NEVER agree 100% with everything their chosen candidate says or does.
But for a liberal like Hillary, grouping people into broad categories is second nature. She doesn’t seem to consider the possibility that there might be steel workers in Pennsylvania who thought Trump was out of line when he went after the Khan family and faithful Mormons in Utah who thought the whole thing was a Democratic Party scam from the start. That there might be Breitbart readers who cringed when Trump suggested punishing women for abortions and Wall Street Journal readers who want The Wall built yesterday.
But nothing cuts through the complexities like a broad insult. With this one, Hillary might have done what Trump has struggled to do: Unite conservatives around the Republican nominee once and for all.