By Mitchell Blatt*
Clinton is just as much a liar and unfit to be president as Donald Trump. At least that’s what many conservative critics of Clinton are saying.
It’s a bunch of false equivalency.
Take James O’Keefe, a conservative activist who secretly records videos (that he often edits out of context). He claims to have recorded a video of a low level Florida Democratic field worker (or, in O’Keefe’s words, a “Clinton staffer”) speculating on how he could get away with committing sexual assault.
“I think the bar of acceptable conduct in this campaign is pretty low. To be fired I would have to grab Emma’s ass twice and she would have to complain about it, I would have to sexually harass someone,” the field worker, Wylie Mao, said, according to Politico’s summary of O’Keefe’s video.
O’Keefe issued a statement making his motive for the video clear: “Let’s get this straight. Trump’s ‘grab them by the’ [self-censored pause] generated wall-to-wall TV coverage and generated the narrative that this is his true character and how he acts with women. Therefore, because of the precedent set by the mainstream media, I expect wall-to-wall-coverage of this Hillary staffer bragging about the ease that you can commit sexual harassment inside Hillary’s campaign and not get fired.”
Seriously, how stupid do they think we are?
Does O’Keefe really think that a Field Organizer for the Florida Democratic Party, who has worker for them for 3 whole months (according to his LinkedIn page) (allegedly) making inappropriate comments about sexual assault = the Republican nominee for president bragging about sexual assault?
Ignore for a moment the fact that Mao’s comments weren’t as bad as Trump’s (he didn’t say that he committed sexual assault, as Trump did say). Who the hell is Wylie Mao? Does O’Keefe have any videos of Hillary Clinton bragging about having committed sexual assault? (and there are many accusers saying Trump did in fact engage in the behaviors he talked about engaging in)
It’s the same thing Donald Trump does. Trump says Hillary “started the birther movement” then talks about Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal allegedly having strategized about birtherism. He tries to deflect the allegations of sexual assault against him by talking about Bill Clinton having had affairs and been accused of rape.
If the standard for equivalency now is aides (and far flung party field workers with no connection to the candidate), then what do Trump apologists have to say about Al Baldasaro, a veterans advisor for Trump, who argued multiple times for Clinton to be executed for “treason”? (Trump never apologized for it, and Baldasaro still lists himself as Trump’s 2016 Veteran CoChair on his Twitter page. Trump has indeed said that “Second Amendment people” might be able to block Clinton from nominating a Supreme Court justice and called at the last debate for Clinton to be imprisoned.)
There are some other false equivalencies that are often repeated by Trump defenders and Clinton critics: But liberals called for Bush to be imprisoned!!!
One of the defenses conservatives bring up for the fact that Trump said at the last debate that Clinton would “be in jail” under a Trump administration is that some radical liberals wanted Bush, Cheney and other officials to be charged for war crimes because of their involvement in the Iraq War, the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, or Guantanamo Bay and enhanced interrogation/torture. In fact none of them were ever charged, and candidate Obama never called for Bush to be charged, and President Obama just months after taking office shielded CIA interrogators from charges.
So in summary: Trump promises to have his opponent charged with a crime for some behavior that his supporters seem to think is a crime but that was already investigated by the FBI (and maybe even appears to promise an outcome). Obama didn’t have his opponent, nor any of the previous officials, investigated or charged with crimes, and he even made sure that lower level officers of government who may have committed crimes weren’t investigated.
So Obama ≠ Trump.
Also: a Democratic senator out of 100 rhetorically comparing Bush to Nazis or fascists ≠ Trump, a candidate for president, promising to have his opponents charged with crimes.
(Presidents are more powerful than senators, in case you don’t get it.)
But Clinton is a liar!
Clinton is a politician, and she’s not quite as talented at it as Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan. So of course she’s a liar, like all politicians are liars. She may even be worse than the average politician.
But let’s see if she has lied anywhere near as egregiously as Trump does in almost everyone of his speeches:
“The unemployment rate is probably 20 percent, but I will tell you, you have some great economists that will tell you it’s a 30, 32. And the highest I’ve heard so far is 42 percent.” – Trump
Actual unemployment rate: 4.9%
Trump: 45% of African-American youth live in poverty.
Actual amount: 33%
Trump: “I opposed the Iraq War.”
Actual Trump statements in 2002: “Yeah, I guess so [on supporting the Iraq War]. I wish the first time was done correctly.” (President George H.W. Bush decided against pushing on towards Baghdad and overthrowing Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War, for reasons that are obvious now.)
Finally, just for kicks:
Trump at second debate: “No one respects women more than me.”
INTERVIEWER: Do you treat women with respect?
TRUMP: I can’t say that either.
Trump on women: “You have to treat em like shit.”
(And any of a hundreds upon hundreds of other comments he has made on the record.)
Read my article at The Federalist on 10 more things Trump said and then lied about having said.
You get the point: There’s a whole host of issues that Trump’s defenders are drawing up false equivalences on. Another: Trump has spent charitable donations to his tax-free foundation on personal items like a Tim Tebow helmet and personal legal bills. Clinton’s foundation hasn’t been reported of doing so.
It becomes laughable. Those who insist everything is the same are really straining their credibility, and this is the reason why conservatives complaints about “bias” and such are treated as unserious in some corners.
About the author:
*Mitchell Blatt moved to China in 2012, and since then he has traveled and written about politics and culture throughout Asia. A writer and journalist, based in China, he is the lead author of Panda Guides Hong Kong guidebook and a contributor to outlets including The Federalist, China.org.cn, The Daily Caller, and Vagabond Journey. Fluent in Chinese, he has lived and traveled in Asia for three years, blogging about his travels at ChinaTravelWriter.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @MitchBlatt.