Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton fired up commentary on both sides of the political fence this weekend with her remarks that “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables’... “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.”
Here’s a mix of reaction:
Wall Street Journal
As Mrs. Clinton’s support has eroded in the polls, Democrats are figuring out that they may have nominated the only candidate who could lose to Donald Trump. But then they didn’t give themselves many good choices. Their Congressional leaders are old, and their bench in the states is thin after their election wipeouts of 2010 and 2014. Mrs. Clinton’s bid to be the first woman President fit the party’s priority for identity politics, and the Clinton machine would do what it takes to win.
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Mrs. Clinton is still leading, and Mr. Trump is always a driverless-car accident waiting to happen. But it’s also obvious that a majority of Americans do not want to vote for an extension of the Clinton dynasty. They aren’t “deplorables.” They’ve seen Mrs. Clinton in public life for 25 years and they know what they’ll be getting if she wins.
John Cassidy, The New Yorker
The most striking phrase Clinton used in this passage was “basket of deplorables.” It sounds like a category Miss Jean Brodie might have summoned up for some underperforming students, and it prompted laughs from the crowd in New York City. But the really explosive words have proven to be “half of Trump’s supporters.” It is one thing to claim that some of Trump’s backers are racist, xenophobic nitwits: a Google search of the fringe white nationalist groups who have hailed his candidacy would confirm as much. But Clinton appeared to be suggesting—or, at least, she opened herself up to the accusation that she was suggesting—that tens of millions of Americans fall into the same lamentable category. That was what is known in politics as a gaffe. Clinton didn’t stop there—a fact that has been largely overlooked in the avalanche of stories that her words unleashed. She went on to remind her audience that some Trump backers had legitimate economic concerns, which couldn’t be ignored.
D.. W. Wilber, Townhall.com
Hillary Clinton might consider Trump supporters to be a “basket of deplorables”, but I suspect coming from the most dishonest, corrupt, and despicable politician in American history to ever run for the presidency, all those deplorable Trump supporters will wear that moniker like a badge of honor!
Charles Blow, New York Times
What Clinton said was impolitic, but it was not incorrect. There are things a politician cannot say. Luckily, I’m not a politician. Donald Trump is a deplorable candidate — to put it charitably — and anyone who helps him advance his racial, religious and ethnic bigotry is part of that bigotry. Period. Anyone who elevates a sexist is part of that sexism. The same goes for xenophobia. You can’t conveniently separate yourself from the detestable part of him because you sense in him the promise of cultural or economic advantage. That hair cannot be split......
I understand that people recoil at the notion that they are part of a pejorative basket. I understand the reflexive resistance to having your negative beliefs disrobed and your sense of self dressed down. I understand your outrage, but I’m unmoved by it. If the basket fits …
Tucker Carlson, appearing on Fox News
"Her expression of contempt for the middle of the country is commonplace in the world she lives in," Tucker Carlson said on "Fox and Friends" this morning. "This is what the elites believe as a matter of course. She just happened to be caught on tape saying it."
Carlson explained that Clinton and those like her don't simply believe that people who disagree with them are wrong, they're actually bad people.
"This is a very common view. I really hope our viewers don't come away thinking only Hillary Clinton believes this. Everyone in her orbit believes it. Trust me."
Greg Sargent, The Washington Post
Clinton should not have overgeneralized about the other “half” of Trump’s supporters, and she may apologize for it or further clarify it at some point. She shouldn’t have called all these voters “deplorables.” But the underlying argument here — that Trump is running a bigoted campaign that tries to prey on legitimate grievances and bigotry alike by scapegoating minority groups — is inarguable, and the reality it identifies is far worse than Clinton’s broad-brush overreach was. If anything, “deplorable” is too mild a word for it.