As unloved and untrusted as ever

The Briefing, Vol. IV, Issue 25

This week:

  • Tell us what you really think about Hillary
  • A Rubio resurrection, or rebirth to defeat?
  • The Libertarian Party is…weird.

President 2016

How’s Hillary? So, how’s Hillary Clinton?

As the old-time comic Henny Youngman might have put it, “Compared to what?”

That may not seem like much consolation in a tough year for Republicans, but it’s a real thing.

To be sure, at the moment Clinton seems like the favorite to become president; a clear leader in 13 of the last 13 polls.

But note two important facts that separate her from most presidential frontrunners. First, her own numbers don’t seem to improve when her opponent’s numbers dip. Clinton’s numbers, viewed in isolation (and excluding the untrustworthy Republican Gravis poll), are at their lowest point since she announced. Even when Donald Trump drops, she doesn’t rise.

Second, Clinton is and remains the second most unpopular major party nominee in the history of America. Ask the voting public an open-ended question about what they think of her, and you’ll get a list of first responses that demonstrate almost no one is enthusiastic about a Clinton presidency.

“Liar,” says the largest group — by far the largest group.

“Dishonest,” says the second largest.

“Crooked,” says the third.

“Untrustworthy,” says the fourth.

“Criminal,” says the fifth.

It’s only at this point that you finally start seeing a few positive adjectives. But then if you keep going down the list, you also get “deceptive,” deceitful,” and “fake,” which really makes it surprising that more of these responses weren’t combined together into one.

New scandal: And yes, of course there are a lot of choice descriptions of Trump in this Huffington Post poll as well, but why exactly is Clinton viewed as a lying, deceitful, crooked, untrustworthy deceitful fake liar again?

Well, here’s a new story from last week that provides an example.  In 2011, when she was serving as secretary of State, Clinton and her top staff chose a major donor with no qualifications at all to serve on a sensitive national security panel that was otherwise stocked with bona fide experts.

The donor, Rajiv Fernando, was specifically chosen by Clinton’s chief of staff, according to emails among panicky State aides that were uncovered by the group Citizens United. Clinton’s office had been applying pressure to these aides in order to get their 29-year-old $5 million Clinton Foundation donor an interim Top Secret security clearance. He attended just one meeting of the panel before resigning due to media scrutiny about the appointment of such an unqualified person for the job.

This is a typical Clinton special scandal. The slightly-too-obvious sale of a security clearance and sensitive position a to a benefactor of the Clinton family matches up with many such Clinton scandals.

This kind of thing — obviously this year including her email problem — is why many voters, including many who will ultimately vote for her, believe her to be a deeply dishonest person. This may not stop her from becoming president, but it presents an opportunity for somebody.

Weed-free for seven weeks? So, who do you think might be capable of taking advantage of this opportunity? If you said Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, deduct 50 points from your score, at least for now.

When recently asked about the last time he used marijuana, Johnson answered that it’s been seven weeks. Brilliant. This serves as a reminder of the great opportunity the Libertartians had this year, given the unpopularity of Clinton and Trump, and how they seem to have squandered it with an ideologically non-libertarian and too-weird-to-win attitude.

To add to the strangeness, Republican congressman and scandal-scarred former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was apparently offered the Libertarian VP slot. Uh, okay, whatever.

Senate 2016

Alaska: Anchorage mayor Dan Sullivan — no relation to first-term Alaska senator Dan Sullivan — has dropped his bid for the state’s other Senate seat, which would have required a primary campaign against Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Not only will this deprive Alaskans of at least four years of hilariously confusing Senate news coverage, but it also means Murkowski is pretty much guaranteed re-election, which isn’t very common for Republicans this year, not even the ones in safe seats.

Florida: Here’s the strongest indication so far that Marco Rubio will indeed file to run for re-election before the deadline passes. Democrats would love to knock him off in a head-to-head race, and they have perhaps even odds of that. Still, if Rubio can win, he remains on the scene for the potential future presidential run that many of his fans hope to see under more ideal circumstances.

House 2016

New York-22: Next Tuesday’s race to replace squishy moderate Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., puts two conservatives, high school teacher George Phillips and state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, against Steve Wells, a Democratic donor (a lot of that going around this year) who would basically keep the seat in moderate hands.

Tenney nearly defeated Hanna in a surprise upset in 2014. Phillips nearly defeated Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., in a much more Democratic-drawn district in 2010. Phillips won the endorsement of the ACU last week.

Virginia-4: State Rep. Scott Taylor’s defeat of fellow Republican Randy Forbes last Tuesday should not be taken as a sign of any big new tea party phenomenon. It’s not the new Eric Cantor or anything, but rather something totally different.

This race was an artifact of a court-ordered redistricting process that sent Forbes panicking and running to a new, adjacent and newly empty seat to run in.

Forbes fell victim to what often does in the average carpet-bagger — he lost to the local favorite. Taylor, a Navy Seal, activist and state legislator, had run against Rep. Scott Rigell, R, in 2010. Rigell’s retirement is what opened up the seat for this year’s contest.