Queen of Cassandras: Hillary Clinton

Among the many infuriating reactions to the New York Times op-ed by an anonymous White House official is treating the author's descriptions of Donald Trump's unfitness for the presidency as some kind of revelation.

This is not a revelation.

It is something that was being observed, loudly and repeatedly, by many people — especially women — throughout the entirety of the 2016 campaign, from the moment that Trump announced his candidacy.

That the account of an anonymous author (presumed without any evidence to be a man) are being treated more seriously than the urgent warnings delivered by women long ago, when there was time to prevent a Trump presidency, is a perfect, terrible example of the dynamic in which a woman suggests an idea at a business meeting, but it's only heard when her male colleague repeats it 20 minutes later.

And the woman who most clearly and visibly articulated the truth about Donald Trump's deplorable temperament before Election Day was Hillary Clinton, to whom many of us — including and perhaps especially significant portions of the political press — refused to listen.

Clinton and Trump infamously had an amusing and terrifying exchange during a debate, in which Trump attacked her temperament, ranting and raving while she stood quiet, every inch of her grinning face conveying that she was allowing Trump's behavior to speak for itself. At the end of his tirade, she waggled her shoulders and exhaled, "Whew!" It was a moment that went viral, but in most cases divorced from the context that she was reacting, very specifically, to Trump's ill temperament.

Less remembered is this: On June 2, 2016, Clinton gave an address in which she bluntly outlined many of her concerns about Trump's temperament. It was eerily prescient, with Clinton mentioning everything from Trump's unfathomable affection for Kim Jong Un to his refusal to acknowledge John McCain as a war hero — both of which have been at issue in the last week, more than two years later.

The night of the address, a complete transcript of which can be read at Time, the CBS evening news ran this report, where her words were amplified, but only alongside the implication that she is overwrought, exaggerating, hysterical:

Video Transcript:

Anchor Scott Pelley, in studio: It was an extraordinary moment today. Hillary Clinton warned that Donald Trump could lead America into nuclear war on a whim. Even by the standards of this election year, her foreign policy speech was incendiary. President Lyndon Johnson left it to an ad a half-century ago to say what he could not, implying that Barry Goldwater couldn't be trusted with the bomb. Nancy Cordes is with Clinton in San Diego.

Video clip of Clinton giving her address: The person the Republicans have nominated for president cannot do the job. [applause]

Cordes, in voiceover: In a speech that was deadly serious one moment and humorous the next, Clinton argued Trump's temperament makes him unfit to lead the free world.

Clinton: Donald Trump's ideas aren't just different; they are dangerously incoherent. They're not even really ideas — just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies. [cheers and applause] This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes, because it's not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.

Cordes, in voiceover: She said Trump lacks the knowledge to be commander in chief —

Video clip of Trump giving a speech: I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.

Cordes: — citing his seemingly cavalier attitude about torture —

Video clip of Trump giving an interview: Waterboarding is fine.

Cordes: — and about conflicts with other countries.

Video clip of Trump giving a speech: So they say, "Oh, you'll start a trade war!" You know what? When you're losing that kind of money, who the hell cares?!

Clinton: There's no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf course deal. [laughter]

Cordes: The former Secretary of State brought up the many foreign leaders who have mocked Trump, describing him as, quote, "dumb" and "barking mad" — a "man who changes opinions like the rest of us change underwear." Trump has drawn praise from state-run media in communist North Korea, which called him "wise" and "farsighted" this week, after he complimented their leader.

Clinton: He said, "You've gotta give Kim Jong Un credit for taking over North Korea," something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle. [edit] And he said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he'd give him an A. Now, I will leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants.

Cordes, onscreen: Clinton has begun to frame this race less as a choice between left and right than between steadiness and flakiness. She gave the speech here in San Diego, Scott, because it's home to more than a hundred thousand members of the military — a military Trump has described as a disaster.
Just this one line from Clinton's speech is remarkable: "Donald Trump's ideas aren't just different; they are dangerously incoherent. They're not even really ideas — just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies." That is essentially the entire basis delineated in the anonymous op-ed to justify the subverting of Trump's presidency.

And it was apparent all along. Clinton said so, repeatedly and insistently.

The same people who refused to listen to her, or take her seriously, now listen to an anonymous official with a self-interested agenda. Now, when it is far too late.

We cannot go back in time and heed Clinton's words about Trump, but we can sure as fuck recognize that she said them when they mattered most.

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