According to a release from the Hillary Clinton campaign, the all-but-presumptive Democratic nominee will give a major foreign policy speech on Thursday. In San Diego, Hillary hopes to draw several lines of distinction between her approach to global affairs and that of Donald Trump. Considering how much disparity there is between the two approaches, that shouldn’t be hard to do.
How she benefits from this comparison, though, is a tough question to answer.
As of this writing, the Clinton campaign had not released a preview of the speech to the news media. The Washington Post talked to an anonymous aide, however, who gave a general glimpse of what to expect:
The address will expand on themes Clinton sketched in a CNN interview in May, when she flatly said Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, is not qualified to be president. She ticked through positions the businessman has taken during a campaign few thought he could win. Among them: an apparent willingness to back out of the NATO alliance; a suggestion that the U.S. defense burden would be lightened in Japan and other nations acquired nuclear weapons; and his pledge to bar foreign Muslims from entering the United States.
Two problems with this. One, she’s just repeating Trump’s platform and telling voters what they already know. This kind of “let’s run through the list” type of attack is not going to sway a single fence-sitter. Two, it ignores the fact that her own foreign policy record is mired in mistakes, ignorance, and outright negligence. This is a woman suspected of trading political influence to foreign leaders for Clinton Foundation donations. A woman who lied to the American people about what went down in Benghazi. A woman who supported Obama’s ill-conceived plan to topple Gaddafi.
When your only argument is, “Well, yeah, but Trump would be even worse than me,” you’re in serious trouble. Serious, serious trouble that very few Democrats are willing to acknowledge.
Forget about the left/right divide for a second. Forget (if you can) how specifically awful a Hillary Clinton presidency would be. Just appreciate how misguided her strategy is from a psychological perspective. If her main goal from this point forward is to persuade Americans to fear and despise Donald Trump, she’s going to lose. She’s nearly as disliked as he is. Anyone who can be convinced that Trump would mean the end of Western civilization was already convinced a long time ago.
For everyone else, all Hillary’s doing is creating apathy. They aren’t going to rush out and vote for her to avoid the grand horrors of President Trump; they’re just going to stay home.
Trump already has the anti-Hillary crowd. But unlike his opponent, he also has a base of supporters who actually want nothing more in the world than to see him elected. It’s that enthusiasm – that popular forward momentum – that Hillary does not have. And unless she can find a way to generate it, she will be licking her wounds this November and wondering what went wrong.