In a column titled, “Politics of hatred and resentment seem headed for defeat,” Adrian Walker, a writer at the Boston Globe, claimed that the 2016 election involved “the ugliest and strangest Presidential campaign of modern times.” Actually, this year was neither notably ugly nor notably strange for a campaign, either in “modern times” or in historical ones.
The 1968 contest was vile–at the nadir of the Vietnam War–leaving the socially conscious voters without a general-election candidate to support. The main alternative to the pro-war candidates from both major parties was George Wallace, a coarse, violently racist former governor of Alabama who got about 14 percent of the votes. However, early and middle nineteenth century–in the era of slavery–saw far more vicious campaigns than that.
Instead of such modern and historical extremes, this year there was simply one notably ugly Presidential candidate. To our vexation, he won. At best, a Long Night of Nixon–like the one starting in 1968–begins again. We have a President-elect whose lack of character has not been seen since Buchanan in 1856 and Polk in 1844–and whose lack of competence and stature has never been seen before.
To the last day of the campaign, Hillary Clinton’s message remained inclusive: “Stronger together.” Donald J. Trump’s message remained divisive: “Crooked Hillary.” Clinton closed her campaign with rallies featuring President Obama, his wife Michelle, the Clinton family, prominent entertainers and other major figures from politics. Trump closed his campaign much as he had opened it, largely isolated, spouting lies and hate.
The outcome from the 2016 election for President exhibited classic racial voting, strongly coupled to sexist bias. Over 24,500 exit poll responses were reported by Edison Research to the Associated Press, television news networks and the New York Times–made available online by Cable Network News–from which the following table shows a small but telling example, extracted and rearranged for readability. Majorities of both white men and white women voted for Donald J. Trump. Majorities of all other groups voted for Hillary Clinton.
Voting for President in 2016 by race and age
Source: Edison Research via Cable News Network
Chump disease: For readers who followed Donald J. Trump over a career of around 50 years in real estate, he was not strange at all–just greedy and vulgar. Some might remember an arrogant young man, a mediocre new college grad who apparently could not land a real job on his own. Instead, he went to work for his dad, helping to rent out his dad’s apartments.
His first brush with government proved chilling; it foreshadowed his career path. In 1973, he was accused of refusing to rent apartments to African-Americans–a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1970. Instead of mending his ways, Donald J. Trump employed Roy Cohn–a former hired gun for Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover. That attack strategy failed; Trump was forced into a settlement agreement. However, attack strategies settled into Trump’s character; he became known as a business bully.
After a fatuous tangle with casino properties in Atlantic City, Donald J. Trump courted ruin as mismanaged properties lurched to bankruptcy, following the sharp recession of 1991. Facing competition from Connecticut he could not counter, he chiseled his way out by loading losses onto lenders, investors and contractors and avoiding taxes, counting some of their losses as though they had been his losses. Then he discovered a second calling as a media rube. He became known as a sick hustler.
Pending work: There would have been tons of work for a Hillary Clinton administration–starting with investigation of FBI director James Brien “Jim” Comey, Jr.–who in effect acted as a Trump booster while a government employee. Comey’s stunts threw the election. Polling trends up to the stunt on October 28 showed clearly that Hillary Clinton would otherwise have won. One-percent margins in Pennsylvania and Florida, for example, would have landed in the other direction.
Nevertheless, on election day there remained severe problems to solve in domestic programs, notably in Health and Human Services, Education, Interior and Transportation. Chronic Congressional paralysis would likely have taken far more effort than executive agencies, because it springs from voter choices for members of Congress. Most and maybe all that work will probably wait at least another four years, unless Donald J. Trump were to stumble enough to be impeached and convicted.
If nothing more, the effects from Donald J. Trump’s dog-whistle rants showed large segments of U.S. voters may be happy to back candidates who come across as sleazebags, xenophobes, anti-Semites, sexists, racists, Nazi fellow-travelers, political whores and traitors. A recent Washington Post headline put it, “Finally: someone who thinks like me.” Were Trump cheerleaders off their rockers? A more recent Post article cited evidence suggesting many of them were over their heads in debt.
This year, millions of U.S. citizens have been denied a right to vote. David Leonhardt, writing in the New York Times, argued that systematic efforts by reactionary Republicans to swing elections in their favor are the main causes. Corruption is rankest in the Deep South and the Southwest. It also threatens voters in parts of the Midwest. Some of the arrogant rubes behind it Trumpet their motives. Leonhardt quoted one from North Carolina claiming that throttling early voting was “in the best interest of the Republican Party.”
We do not know what Hillary Clinton might have promised high-income sponsors who put up most of around $1 billion she was able to attract in support of her campaign. An early promise by Donald J. Trump to “self fund” his campaign turned out to be just another casual lie from him. Despite the threats emerging from the Citizens United case in 2013, big money–including early big money–proved less effective than many feared it would be. Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida had the most early big money, yet he was an early loser.
New business: A new item of business–so far skipped by most mainstream media in the United States–is a federal lawsuit against Donald J. Trump. It was filed on September 30, 2016, in the District of Southern New York. It accuses him and an alleged collaborator of child rapes and murder threats. Trump, the co-defendant and their lawyers have sought to dismiss accusations as lies and smears. Jon Swaine, a reporter for the Guardian in Britain, treated an earlier version of the lawsuit as a media circus.
In the recent federal lawsuit, Donald J. Trump and Jeffrey E. Epstein, of New York, are accused of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1994, and both are accused of threatening to have her whole family killed if the girl were to “say anything” about it. With the filings in federal court, the lawsuit seeks to override statutes of limitation. Thomas Meagher of Princeton, New Jersey, the attorney of record, is a patent lawyer–his firm’s chief litigator and managing partner when the recent federal lawsuit was filed.
According to an Internet news article published this past summer, Donald J. Trump’s co-defendant Jeffrey E. Epstein has been classified in New York as “a Level 3 registered sex offender–the most dangerous kind.” The author of that article is a lawyer in California who focuses on tort and divorce cases and who has identified herself as assisting the plaintiff in the recent federal lawsuit.
In an exhibit filed with the complaint against Donald J. Trump, the plaintiff provided a sworn statement saying that “Defendant Trump tied me to a bed,…and then proceeded to forcibly rape me…violently striking me in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted.” She further states, “Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened me that, were I ever to reveal any of the details of Defendant Trump’s sexual and physical abuse of me, my family and I would be physically harmed if not killed.”
Unusual with incidents of violent sexual abuse, the complaint against Donald J. Trump in the lawsuit also provided a sworn statement from a claimed eyewitness to the alleged rapes. It states that she “personally witnessed the Plaintiff being forced to perform various sexual acts with Donald J. Trump and Mr. Epstein. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein were advised that she was 13 years old.” It further states the claimed eyewitness “personally witnessed Mr. Trump…[and]…Mr. Epstein physically threaten the life and well-being of the Plaintiff if she ever revealed any details of the physical and sexual abuse….”
Donald J. Trump and the co-defendant are presumed innocent unless proven to be at fault. According to the New York Daily News, the next step in the recent federal lawsuit is a court conference set for December 16. One might suspect, however, that a difficult case–now against a President-elect–could be withdrawn.
– Craig Bolon, Brookline, MA, November 9, 2016
Note: As was obvious to us on November 8, election day, by November 12 the Hillary Clinton campaign also found that the publicity stunt on October 28 by James Brien “Jim” Comey, Jr., the FBI director, had thrown the election–wrecking the growing Clinton advantage seen in earlier polls. Comey rehashed Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while Secretary of State, in a letter sent to eight Congressional committee chairs–all Republicans. That was immediately forwarded to news organizations from one or more of those offices. Starting the next day, polls showed declining margins of support for Clinton. By election day, margins had not recovered.
Comey’s FBI staff in New York had found there was an e-mail cache on a computer seized from ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, a key assistant to Hillary Clinton. As of October 28, the FBI did not have a search warrant to examine the computer and could not legally have known the content of e-mails stored on it. Longstanding Department of Justice policy forbids disclosure of information close to elections, and Comey had recently been reminded about that policy.
News stories soon surfaced that Comey’s October 28 stunt had been engineered by FBI staff in New York City and disclosed to Rudy Giuliani, the former city mayor who had become a key backer of Donald J. Trump. For several days before October 28, in comment sections of major news sites, well known Trump trolls had been feverishly writing comments seeking to persuade readers not to use early voting and suggesting that some major news was in the works. On November 7, Comey was celebrated at an event held by a group of longstanding Trump supporters. [note added November 13, 2016]
Anne Gearan, Washington Post, Hillary Clinton blames Comey letter for stopping her momentum, Boston Globe, November 12, 2016
K.K. Rebecca Lai, Alicia Parlapiano, Jeremy White and Karen Yourish, How Trump won the election according to exit polls, New York Times, November 9, 2016 (updated, with charts)
David Leonhardt, The real voter fraud, New York Times, November 8, 2016
Adrian Walker, The politics of hatred and resentment seem headed for defeat, Boston Globe, November 7, 2016
Dana Milbank, Anti-Semitism is no longer an undertone of Trump’s campaign. It’s the melody, Washington Post, November 7, 2016
Josh Lederman, Associated Press, As campaign closes, the Obamas pass the torch to Clinton, U.S. News, November 7, 2016
Trump closes his campaign as he opened it: preaching xenophobia and hate, Daily Kos (UK), November 7, 2016
Jake Pearson and Jeff Horwitz, Comey honored by group with longtime Trump ties, Associated Press, November 7, 2016
Michael Finnegan, Trump stokes terrorism fears, citing refugee ‘disaster’ in Minnesota, Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2016
Max Ehrenfreund, Something has been going badly wrong in the neighborhoods that support Trump, Washington Post, November 4, 2016
David Barstow, Mike McIntire, Patricia Cohen, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner, Donald Trump used legally dubious method to avoid paying taxes, New York Times, October 31, 2016
Former Bush ethics lawyer accuses FBI director of violating Hatch Act, Government Executive (Washington, DC). October 31, 2016
Richard W. Painter, On Clinton e-mails, did the FBI director abuse his power?, New York Times, October 30, 2016
Sari Horwitz, Washington Post, Officials warned FBI head about decision on e-mails, Boston Globe, October 29, 2016
Photocopy, Letter to Congress from FBI director on Clinton e-mail case, New York Times, October 28, 2016
Drew Harwell, When Trump goes confrontational, lawyer steps in, Washington Post, October 16, 2016
Victoria Bekiempis, Lawsuit accusing Donald Trump of raping 13-year-old girl gets December hearing, New York Daily News, October 12, 2016
Richard Cohen, Why do Republicans suddenly find Trump repugnant? He looks like a loser, Washington Post, October 8, 2016
Philip Rucker, Trump hopes to revive campaign after tax discovery caps a week of self-sabotage, Washington Post, October 2, 2016
Stephanie McCrummen, Finally: someone who thinks like me, Washington Post, October 1, 2016
Robert O’Harrow, Jr. and Shawn Boburg, The man who showed Donald Trump how to exploit power and instill fear, Washington Post, June 17, 2016
Gabrielle Levy, How Citizens United has changed politics in five years, U.S. News, January 21, 2015
Jane Doe v. Donald J. Trump and Jeffrey E. Epstein (refiled complaint), Case No. 1:16-cv-07673, U.S. District Court for Southern New York, filed September 30, 2016
Thomas F. Meagher, Meagher Emanuel Laks Goldberg & Liao, LLP, Princeton, NJ, September, 2016
Jon Swaine, Rape lawsuits against Donald Trump linked to former TV producer, Guardian (UK), July 7, 2016
Lisa Bloom, Why the new child rape case filed against Donald Trump should not be ignored, Huffington Post, June 29, 2016
Craig Bolon, Hillary Clinton for President, Brookline Beacon, October 8, 2016
Craig Bolon, Chump disease: political virus, Brookline Beacon, October 2, 2016
Craig Bolon, Chump No. 3 sounds like No. 2, Brookline Beacon, June 11, 2016