The New York Times’ Paul Krugman reiterated the paper’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton in a recent Op-Ed entitled, “How The Clinton-Trump Race Got Close.” Krugman’s explanation wasn’t based on Clinton’s record of corruption, didn’t acknowledge that the Democratic National Committee rigged the primaries for her, or that members of the Democratic Party, with Sen. Bernie Sanders as an exception, sat out the race because “it’s her turn.”
Instead, Krugman’s explanation was a dogmatic defense of Clinton’s infallibility. According to Krugman, Trump’s support base is made up entirely of racists, and the mainstream media exaggerated minor missteps or invented scandals about Clinton.
“Sexism was surely involved but may not have been central,” Krugman noted.
Would it also be the media’s fault if Sen. Marco Rubio or Gov. John Kasich were the Republican nominee and were leading by several points in some polls against Clinton, as they were earlier this year? Or would it be because the racist Republican base prefers those candidates even more than they do Trump? Would sexism be central to those leads as well?
What Krugman continues to be completely oblivious to—as does The New York Times in its persistent defenses of Clinton—is that she is an awful presidential candidate.
Her foreign policy is militaristic and hawkish, abrasively contradictory to an electorate that is tired of the United States getting involved in relentless and perpetual wars abroad. Clinton’s vast network of corporate and wealthy donors is emblematic of the globalization that weakened the middle class in America and contributes to increasing trends of income and wealth inequality.
The conflicts of interest posed by the Clinton Foundation merit criticism, yet Krugman doesn’t think so because no concrete example of quid pro quo involving the Clinton Foundation has been cited. Krugman knows how elitism works. The Clinton Foundation, like any other elite organization, consults with lawyers. The foundation has received dubious donations from the oil industry, financial industry, foreign dictatorships and other organizations, while Hillary Clinton signed off on arms exports increases to foreign government donors, touted fracking around the world and aggressively pushed for the interests of corporations abroad during her time as secretary of state. This feedback loop of donations and favors from the Clintons was developed with enough deniability to circumvent any legal repercussions, yet the conflicts of interest are well-documented.
Krugman didn’t explicitly mention the controversy surrounding Clinton’s private email server—as Democrats have dismissed the investigation as a right-wing conspiracy—even though the State Department inspector general and FBI director acknowledged that Clinton broke the rules. Several Clinton aides, who otherwise could have faced criminal charges, received immunity in exchange for cooperation. Clinton’s network host, Paul Combetta, was recently found to have solicited advice on how to alter or delete some of Clinton’s emails via Reddit, while released FBI reports detailed how clueless and careless Clinton and her staff actually were. Before the emails were handed over and throughout the investigation Clinton had a team of lawyers and her fellow Democrats fighting to ensure no indictment was recommended by the FBI, while FBI Director James Comey admitted lower-ranked officials would have been reprimanded in some way.
While the media does sensationalize and manufacture outrage over Trump, it doesn’t often translate to big leads in the polls for Clinton, because in one way or another she is implicated in comparable scandals. Instead, the Clinton campaign uses victims of Trump’s abuse toward women as a campaign tactic—even though Bill Clinton has his own record of scandals. Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and others have accused Clinton of extramarital affairs, sexual harassment, and even rape, some of which have proven to be true through Bill’s own admission. Bill Clinton even shows up several times on billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s “Lolita Express” flight logs obtained by Gawker in January 2015.
Krugman also fails to mention how the lack of enthusiasm for Clinton’s candidacy translates to poor voter turnout. The fear of Trump will compensate for some lack of enthusiasm, but most people won’t vote simply out of alarm. President Obama won in 2008 and 2012 because his campaign inspired hope and enthusiasm. The media’s constant touting of outrage over Trump only breeds voter apathy—not support for Clinton. The DNC skipped voter drives leading up to the Democratic primaries because it would have helped Sanders. Traditionally, Democrats have depended on high voter turnouts to win.
Third parties are another scapegoat for close polls, but Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson is much more likely to be taking more votes from Trump than Clinton—and Green Party candidate Jill Stein is still polling much lower than Johnson. Third parties have been a reality in presidential elections for decades. Democrats often cite Ralph Nader as a reason for Al Gore losing in 2000, but never say Ross Perot, who received almost 19 percent of the vote, is the reason Bill Clinton won in 1992. Considering the divisive effect Trump has on the Republican Party, third parties are no excuse for Clinton failing to maintain a large lead in polls against him.
If Clinton was even a mediocre presidential candidate, the race between her and Trump wouldn’t be anywhere near close in the polls. But, like Trump, Clinton’s low favorability ratings make her a bad presidential candidate—and one who risks losing. If she does lose, it won’t be the media’s fault for being too harsh on Clinton. It will be Clinton and the Democratic Party’s fault for pushing a candidate that has elicited and prolonged multiple scandals, and who represents a brand of politics that increasingly favors special interests over representing actual American voters.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.