With less than two months to go until the election, I might have started this piece by saying things have taken an unexpected turn.
But that would not be accurate. Although this is the most bizarre presidential election I have seen in my lifetime, I would not call anything that has happened to date unexpected, given the personnel involved.
Since it became clear that the major party nominees would be an ex-president’s wife with an undistinguished and scandal-ridden background, and a brash former reality television host with no government experience, I have learned not to be surprised by anything.
In fact, we should all be expecting the unexpected.
Accordingly, it should come as no surprise when Hillary calls half of Donald Trump’s supporters “a basket of deplorables,” which might cause one to question her pledge to be a president for all people.
Should she win the presidency, you can be certain of an election-night speech where she talks about bringing us all together, putting the past behind us, and so predictably on. She will probably even offer an olive branch to Trump himself.
And I guess at that point, she will want those Trump supporters to not worry how deplorable they might be because she will be their president too.
But she should probably not count on short memories. This is likely to be one of the remarks that will have staying power, similar to when she said, when her husband was running for the office she now seeks, that she “could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas” – words dripping with sarcasm as she defended her choice of a career.
I understand she’s been going full throttle and hasn’t been feeling well (more on that below), but I can’t help but think she could have chosen her words a bit more carefully, or someone could have helped her to make a better choice of words.
But, alas, that’s the tone of this campaign, both for candidates and supporters on both sides.
As a proud non-Facebook subscriber, I am frequently informed by friends and family members who are more linked in (pun intended).
My wife will read various entries to me, posted by both Clinton and Trump supporters, and I am struck by this more than anything else: there are a lot of angry people out there. Unfortunately, they give voice to that anger by saying (posting) things that are downright mean.
I guess people who would say such things have always been around, but now they have a forum to use (and hide behind).
Call me Pollyanna, but I like to think we have some standards of decorum, even in the dirty business of politics.
For example, for the most part, candidates’ and elected officials’ children have generally been off limits.
You might remember the Bush twins and their occasional nights out. More recently, President Obama’s older daughter was observed participating in some uncertain activities (I say uncertain because, to my knowledge, nobody ever figured out exactly what was going on).
There is press coverage, to be sure. But the flurry quickly dies down.
And during election season, any criticism of candidates related to their child-rearing, whether past or present, is either non-existent or lacks traction if it does take place.
I think such unspoken rules are good. Most decent moms and dads know first-hand the difficulty that comes with the job of being a parent and we will give abundant grace to our peers in that journey, even if they are candidates we might not support.
I believe a similar rule should apply to Hillary Clinton’s recent illness.
No matter what anyone might think of her politics, she’s a human being. She is 68 years old and she is maintaining a schedule and pace I know would have put me out of commission a long time ago.
So why in the world does it surprise anyone that, after maintaining that pace for months and months, she gets sick?
And why would it surprise anyone that, driven person that she is, she would try to push through it and hope it goes away, as many of us have done when we thought we simply did not have time to be sick?
Anyone who reads this column should have figured out a long time ago that I am no fan, but for heaven’s sake I’m not going to sit here and come up with all these theories about what is really wrong or how long she has been ill but didn’t let anyone know.
Donald Trump was quick to release medical reports and go on TV touting his robust health (and managed to say he hopes Hillary will be better soon).
I guess to some extent we need to know that our presidential candidates will be able to withstand the demands of the office. I believe, however, we are crossing a line when we sit in front of our televisions or computer screens and pass judgement on someone for getting sick.
She might have called you deplorable, but please don’t play tit-for-tat.
Give her time to get well.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, husband of one, father of three and father-in-law of two. Email him at email@example.com.