Metro Weekly

Will Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables’ comment bring down her campaign?

Clinton's comment at an LGBT fundraiser may have been ill-advised, but consider carefully who it's aimed at

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.”

Hillary Clinton, during remarks at an “LGBT for Hillary” fundraiser in New York on Friday, Sept. 9. The event was attended by 1,000 donors, including such high-profile supporters as Barry Diller, Harvey Weinstein, Donna Brazile, Laverne Cox, Marissa Tomei, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Michael Urie, Donna Karan and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Rufus Wainwright and Barbra Streisand performed, with Babs doing an extra special rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” featuring amusingly modified lyrics (“Is he that rich? Maybe he’s poor. Until we see his taxes, we can’t be sure. Who is this clown?”)

But the evening’s takeaway was Clinton’s pronouncement. Many Republicans are gleefully calling it Clinton’s “47 moment,” referring to Mitt Romney’s ill-advised  comment during the 2012 campaign in which the GOP candidate disparaged nearly half of the nation’s residents as Obama supporters because of government benefits. “There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it,” the wealthy, entitled former Governor remarked, not knowing he was being recorded at the time. The comment is widely regarded as one of the major reasons Romney lost in the 2012 election.

Trump, hoping for a similar outcome, pounced like a great, orange lion on Clinton’s comment with a Tweet declaring, “Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard working people. I think it will cost her at the Polls!”

The news media seems a bit mixed on the comment.

“Given about 40 percent of Americans support Trump in the polls,” wrote Aaron Blake in the Washington Post‘s superb political column, The Fix. “Clinton appeared to be slapping the ‘racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic’ label on about 20 percent of the country. That’s no small thing — even if she acknowledged she was being ‘grossly generalistic.'”

Slate, however, called equating Romney’s remark to Clinton’s absurd, pointing out that “Romney talked down and dismissed the importance of poor people while Clinton talked down to and dismissed racists, xenophobes, and homophobes. A slight difference. Plus, Romney was talking about people who may have actually chosen to support him whereas Clinton was referring to people who in no way would vote for her. So the risk of alienation really isn’t that great to begin with, although of course it could make the most fervent Trump supporters more fervent.”

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So, was “basket of deplorables” Hillary Clinton’s “47 percent” moment? Read her full comment below, and let us know what you think in our poll and in the comments below.

“I know there are only 60 days left to make our case — and don’t get complacent, don’t see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think well he’s done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now how 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America. But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroine, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

Randy Shulman is Metro Weekly's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at rshulman@metroweekly.com.
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