Editorial: Made for each other
Jul 13, 2016 1:52 PM -
"I don't wanna kill you! What would I do without you? No, no, no. You … you complete me!" -- The Joker to Batman in the movie "The Dark Knight." They need each other, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Neither would stand much of a chance without the presence of the other on the ballot. When has a choice between presumptive nominees come down to two candidates with such high negative ratings? Clinton's unfavorable ratings, at 55.3 percent last week, would be the worst since such polling began about 30 years ago, except that Donald Trump's negatives, at 60.9 percent, are even higher. In a year unlike any other, they find themselves matched up, trying mightily to defeat the other even as they need the other as the foil who, in comparison, will get them elected. "Crooked Hillary" and "Dangerous Donald," are the terms of unendearment that they reserve for each other. It's bound to get worse in their party conventions over the next two weeks. Over the course of the year as much as Clinton creates some space over Trump, and as much as Trump's statements drive down his overall poll results, their pattern has them veering over time toward each other, then splitting off, then veering back. The latest compilation of polls by The New York Times gives Clinton 43 percent and Trump 40 percent nationally. Clinton's lead in certain key states is very tight -- less than 3 percent in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which all went for President Obama for a combined total of 67 electoral votes in 2012; and virtually even with Trump in North Carolina for 15 electoral votes that went for Mitt Romney. A total of 270 electoral votes are needed to win. While Sanders' endorsement on Tuesday will help Clinton, how many supporters he brings with him will be better known after the conventions. There is deep distrust on the left of Clinton's Wall Street connections and big money donors. The Libertarian Party dynamic could swing both ways. The presidential and vice presidential candidates, two former Republican governors, Gary Johnson of New Mexico, who headed the ticket four years ago, and Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, lead a party with views that appeal to both the left and the right with socially liberal and fiscally conservative positions, in some cases far to the left and right of the Democrats and Republicans. The last time out, the Libertarians barely registered. The Green Party's candidate four years ago, Lexington, Kentucky, physician Jill Stein, had offered to step aside this year if Bernie Sanders would accept the nomination at their August convention. Despite the Sanders endorsement, the Greens will still be chasing Sanders supporters. Trump's moment in the spotlight will be in Cleveland in five days. The convention runs Monday through Thursday. Clinton's moment comes in Philadelphia the following week, July 25 through July 28. Both are attempting to unite their parties behind them. Clinton is seeking to overcome distrust and win over millions of Sanders supporters, bringing in their youthful energy after a long slog that took her far longer than expected to secure the nomination. Trump is seeking to overcome the distaste of the Republican establishment that doesn't consider him a true conservative and is turned off by his xenophobic rants and boorish remarks about women, just to name a couple of factors, despite his beating a gaggle of primary rivals to seal his nomination before Clinton. There could be a reckoning in coming years if Republican leaders such as Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are seen as wrecking Trump's chances this year -- Clinton Supreme Court appointments would alter the court's make-up for decades and bring down the wrath of conservatives who have a record for settling scores. This odd couple is made for each other, at least as opponents: Hillary, careful, triangulating, holding the press at bay; "The Donald," off the cuff and unable to contain himself in middle-of-the-night tweets and in front of a reporter's microphone. There won't be a starker choice, not just in style but in policy, in November. This civics lesson will play out as must-see TV starting Monday.