U.S. presidential primaries: Donald Trump as incendiary wildcard, and Hillary Clinton as hyper-advised calculating robot

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as dream candidates—for the other side

Sometimes it seems that the Republicans and the Democrats have found the perfect candidate — for the other party!

Donald Trump is a dream candidate for the Republican presidential primaries, and Hillary Clinton is a dream candidate for the Democratic primaries — each for the other party.

Donald Trump will alienate so many voters in the Republican party and those leaning Republican that it will be hard for the Republican nominee (even Jeb Bush) to win them back. He makes the Republican Party look like the stridently anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant party of Donald Trump.  Good luck with the Hispanic vote in the general elections! Even Jeb Bush, whose wife is of Mexican origin and who speaks fluent Spanish, will have a hard time overcoming the identification in voters’ minds of the Republicans as the anti-immigrant party.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is a dream candidate for the Republicans, for several reasons.

First, she has incredibly high unfavorability ratings among the general electorate, who believe she cannot be trusted. The ongoing saga about her private e-mail server as Secretary of State, and other matters the House Special Committee is looking into, particluarly her role in the Banghazi affair, are certain to keep the issue of her candor and trustworthiness before voters’ eyes.

Second, by so dominating the Democratic primaries through building a massive machine and warchest, seeming to have locked up the support of major Democratic donors, she has sucked the air out of the room ncessary for other potential candidates to launch viable campaigns.

She seems most likely to win the nomination, and most likely to lose the general election — if the Republicans can put up a reasonable candidate and can unite their party after the primaries, or in the not unlikely event that she faces criminal chargs over her handling of classified information, or some other scandal, perhaps related to the Clinton foundation, drags her down.

Hillary and Machine Politics, 2015 style

Hillary personifies the new machine politics of the Democrats in 2015. She is the head of the machine, infinitely calculating, never saying anything that the machine of messaging and narratives and policy positions does not tell her to say. Even her new spontaneity must be viewed as a decision by her machine of countless advisers and pre-tested focus groups that she needs to inject spontaneity and candor into her campaign. There is an inherent contradiction here.


Michael Gerson, “Hillary Clinton’s Nixonian mindset is on full display,” Washington Post, August 17, 2015 (8:04 PM).

Jan Fleischhauer, “Warum die Amis Hillary Clinton nicht mögen; Hillary Clinton will die erste US-Präsidentin werden. Doch jeder Satz von ihr klingt, als ob ein Beraterteam ihn vorher getestet hätte. Die meisten Bürger wollen aber im Weißen Haus einen Menschen aus Fleisch und Blut – keinen Sprechautomaten,” Der Spiegel, 11. August 2015 (17:49 Uhr).

It is hard to see in Hillary the leader of the nation after her performance during the Benghazi affair. When four Americans including the ambassador to Libya were killed in Benghazi on September 11-12, 2012, she as Secretary of State did not go forth to reassure the country, but rather sent U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to the Sunday morning talk shows to present a highly ambiguous and misleading account of what had happened.  

Rice downplayed the link to al Qaeda and related terrorist groups. Candor would have contradicted Barack Obama’s presidential campaign narrative that Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda had been defeated, and that terrorism was under control. Obama, and Clinton, knew at the time this was not the case, which is why the CIA had a “black” operation in Benghazi whose known tasks included monitoring the activities of Ansar al-Sharia and other terrorist groups in the region–whose names were scrubbed from Susan Rice’s talking points.

The Citizens United decision and electoral politics

Isn’t there a new generation of leaders ready to take on the challenges of the incredibly perilous times in which we live?

If money did not rule politics in the U.S. as it has since the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United in 2010, wouldn’t we have a better chance of seeing and hearing these candidates, who might also be able to launch viable campaigns?

Like the Supreme Court decisions in the Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) case upholding slavery, and Lochner v. New York (1905) which held labor legislation limiting working hours to 10 hours per day and 60 hours per week unconstitutional as violative of the “liberty of contract” implicit in the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010) ruling has upended the Constitution, giving the wealthy and super-wealthy the power to use their money as “free speech” to drown out the free speech of others and to subvert the electoral system established by the Constitution.

The only remedy for this situation is a constitutional amendment reversing Citizens United, or its unlikely reversal by the Supreme Court itself. Neither will happen in time to affect the 2016 race, if ever.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.