What is the difference between the two t-shirts in this picture? One supports Donald Trump for President and the other, of course, Hillary Clinton. Beyond that, the t-shirts allow us to explore a present-day archeological dig and the artifacts of different cultures. One campaign looks to the future. The other leaves it blank.
Airports are crucibles of economic reactions, perfect for people watching. We have turned our air terminals into shopping malls: We can’t waste the passing moments between destinations. Whether traveling for leisure or business, Americans are always engaged in accomplishing something, even as we wait to catch a plane and accomplish something else.
A few days ago, I passed through Washington’s Reagan National Airport and a whirl of stores assaulted fast-moving travelers, trying to separate us from our time, more closely guarded than our money.
Color and design marked all the shops. An onslaught of brands fought for the glance of the traveler-in-waiting. The stores, noisy to the eye, were modern versions of the Casablanca bazar where Humphrey Bogart bumped into Ingrid Bergman. “Ah! For special friends of Rick’s we have a special discount!” I was stopped by the T-shirt display captured above with my iPhone.
Neither t-shirt is official campaign gear. They do not tell us what the candidates hope they are selling. Instead, they are grubby capitalist seductions reflecting each candidate’s appeal. What does a Trump or Hillary supporter like about their candidate that would separate the consumer from his cash?
The Trump for President t-shirt is clear and uncomplicated. It projects a bold five-letter typographical display of strength, “TRUMP,” in all caps, without feminine, serifed flourishes. It expresses no elegance or humility. Five small stars, speaking of patriotism and the nation, pale in power to the candidate it names.
The Hillary t-shirt offers a more intimate relationship, trusting us with her first name. It tenders its candidate in a womanly serif, supported by a flag ruffling in the breeze like a skirt.
The more significant difference, however, is their purpose. TRUMP is going to “Make America Great Again.” Hillary Clinton is just running for President. The airport marketers could find no mission to stick to Mrs. Clinton.
Everyone who runs for President should have a campaign, a reason they are running. Donald Trump has one. Hillary Clinton doesn’t.
I’d bet on the guy with the campaign.
I suspect Donald Trump has a 50% chance or better of winning this election.
Mr. Trump is waging war against one of least gifted politicians of the 20th century. Hillary Clinton is running against one of the most talented.
Neither Mrs. Clinton nor anyone has ever run against a candidate like Donald Trump, a disruptive force with ten arms and eight legs who tweets at night, leads his protective Secret Service detail across busy freeways, and rips at the jugular on every issue.
Mrs. Clinton couldn’t cope with a skinny community organizer, with a middle name of “Hussein,” whose accomplishments were less than ordinary. This cycle, she has barely overcome the challenge of a near-octogenarian socialist so wacky that he has called for collective ownership of the means of production and honeymooned in Russia. Who could resist the sunny beaches of Siberia?
Ah, but the conventional wisdom! It tells us Trump could bring white working class Reagan Democrats back to the Republican Party — but that’s not enough. Donald Trump will need to repair his image and win more votes from millennials, minorities, and suburban women, all of whom he has offended.
But Mr. Trump has an alternative more suited to his personae and his challenge: He can do to Hillary Clinton what he’s done to 16 other opponents.
Donald Trump has proven that subtraction, not just addition, wins campaigns.
Mr. Trump is disarmingly candid, even about his strategy. In the primaries, he told us he could be “so presidential, you will be bored” but explained that as long as there were other candidates blocking his nomination, he had to destroy them. “I knocked out 17 (sic 16) people,” Trump said.
We will not see a “more Presidential” Donald Trump facing Hillary Clinton.
Despite his leprous ratings, however, in the Real Clear Politics polling average, Mr. Trump’s vote gathering totals leave him only 5.7% behind Secretary Clinton.
Those who suspect it will be difficult for Donald Trump to repair his image might instead ask, “How hard will it be for Mr. Trump to ruin hers?” The door for Mr. Trump’s assault is open. He can raise Mrs. Clinton’s unfavorability rating to match and surpass his own precisely because Mrs. Clinton’s t-shirt is blank.
Where would Hillary Clinton lead us? What is her vision of the future? She struggles to express one.
Unable to lead, Mrs. Clinton is running a campaign of continuity. She swims against the current, offering “more of the same,” when 70% of Americans say the nation is on the wrong track.
Hillary Clinton is running the campaign of a preservationist, offering economic mothballs instead of leading us somewhere better.
She would make our innovative, open New Economy more like our old, closed, stagnant one. Case in point: Uber. Hillary Clinton seems bizarrely inclined to protect our old yellow-taxicab economy from our new Uber economy. She is obligated to defend old taxicab unions, politically and artificially created monopolies that haven’t innovated in decades.
Mrs. Clinton stakes only one claim to the future: A woman has never been President. Her campaign is fueled by America’s noble decision eight years ago to correct injustices of race before those of gender. In 2008, we elected our first black president — but we sent women to the back of the bus.
Yet, much of the electorate has moved on. It is testimony to the success of feminism that both men and women want to elect a president to do the job, not to play gender politics or make a statement. Less than a third of Americans say they are enthused about electing a woman President. In a another poll, eighty-three percent say “it didn’t matter much.”
And victimhood undermines Mrs. Clinton’s most valuable asset, her incontestable toughness. In playing the gender card, she plays the victim card, which is the weakness card. It is not Mrs. Clinton’s feminine victimhood that appeals to frightened and uncertain voters, it is her strength and steeliness.
A war over gender also exposes a unique Clinton liability: Her cold political hunger.
Mrs. Clinton has told the survivors of sexual assault, “Don’t let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed.”
Unless, of course, those women were assaulted by her husband, Bill Clinton.
Donald Trump is already slamming the former Secretary of State for leading her own “War on Women” and leaving ruined Clinton detractors on the battlefield.
At some point, Mrs. Clinton will have to explain, “Who sat in the White House ‘War Room’ and orchestrated those campaigns of personal destruction?” We might suspect it wasn’t Bill who, no doubt, had already been sent to his room without his dinner.
As Van Jones noted on CNN, when Hillary Clinton first accused Donald Trump of sexism, Trump pushed back, and the Clintons were silenced. That, Jones noted, exposes a vulnerability Mrs. Clinton can’t evade.
In this remarkable campaign, we’ve seen the impossible become routine, every old rule thrown away — and we’re just getting started.
Donald Trump is now one heartbeat away from the Presidency. Unfortunately for Democrats, that heart beats within Hillary Clinton.
I’d bet on the candidate who offers disruptive change instead of continuity. I’d bet on strength instead of victimhood. I’d bet that Americans who want to Make America Great Again outnumber those who want to buy a blank t-shirt and extend the failures of the past.