The first presidential general election debate of 2016 is fast approaching, and Rich Lowry writes at National Review that Democrats have set themselves up for failure. Lowry highlights the fears of those in the Clinton camp who say there is a lower standard of success for Trump. Lowry explains that this sentiment is true, and why.
There are at least five reasons why this is so:
Trump is an amateur. People naturally don’t expect a guy who decided the day before yesterday to run for president (for real this time) to have the same level of knowledge as someone who has been at this for 30 years.
Trump is a radical disrupter, not the conventional candidate trying to preserve the status quo. This gives him the freedom to ignore long-standing norms and conventions. Any other Republican candidate not releasing his tax returns would be bludgeoned into submission by now. But, for Trump, trampling on the rules is one of the purposes of his candidacy.
It wants to be a change election. The level of discontent in the country and the difficulty of a party holding the White House for a third term means this is fundamentally a change election. The question is whether Trump, who is indisputably the candidate of change, can get over the bar of acceptability or not. This is not a high bar. So far he hasn’t cleared it, although he’s made some progress over the last month.
He’s being attacked as a dangerous monster. Hillary Clinton has basically opened up only one line of attack against Trump, which is that he’s a threat to the republic whose every utterance should be regarded with contemptuous disbelief. She hasn’t spent much time hitting his policies or warning of the alleged disasters of unified Republican government. This means that if Trump is not perceived as a dangerous madman — again, not a high bar — he has invalidated her entire critique of him.
Disgust with the political class is abiding and deep. Trump benefits from the low view people have of typical politicians. Whatever you say about Trump — he is selfish, dishonest, unprincipled — his voters will respond, “Well, all politicians are.” This is a license for Trump to conduct a campaign that would make most politicians blush, and get away with it.