With a few tweets and demeaning nicknames, Trump handily dispatched some of the most powerful and well-funded Republicans in the country. The conventional media wisdom that he's a laughably weak candidate who should be defeated in a cakewalk is ludicrous. No Democrat would have an easy time taking him on.
Over the course of a week, the corporate media largely ignored a half dozen Trump transgressions that would have sidelined any other candidate. Among them: saying the U.S. military was a "gang that couldn't shoot straight."
We covered the story as soon as Trump's words were posted online, and credit to Alex Burns for picking it up and tweeting about how "remarkable" this is:
This is remarkable - criticizing the military for accidental bombing of Syrian troops & lamenting that Russia is now "furious at us" https://t.co/Sc54PBye89
— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) September 20, 2016
But this tweet is about the extent of it. There's been no breathless cable commentary, no screaming headlines, no collective shock at how unacceptable such a comment is for a prospective commander-in-chief.
Now, just imagine those words coming from Hillary Clinton. The calls for her withdrawal from the race would be immediate. Morning Joe would convene hour long panels about it. Pundits and columnists would have a field day, ripping her apart for "disrespecting the military."
For Trump, crickets.
This double standard has created a dramatically tilted playing field against Clinton. Couple it with the institutional gender bias that has prevented any woman from becoming president, and you can see why even a small lead in the polls reflects her strength and resilience, not weakness.
Donald Trump is a reality TV star in a reality TV nation. He laid waste to the GOP field and appeals to a highly energized and angry segment of the U.S. electorate.
Moreover, Trump plays dirty politics. He bullies the media, taunts his opponents, and maligns people with impunity. He surrounds himself with some of the shadiest operatives in American politics, people who are willing to lie, repeatedly, to the American public.
On top of all this, recent presidential elections are rarely popular vote blowouts. This is a divided nation. The expectation that Hillary should be coasting to victory is absurd on its face.
Election Day is approaching quickly and hand-wringing and second-guessing are par for the course. Still, we have to acknowledge that Clinton's continued lead in the polls in the face of a brutal double standard is an exceptional accomplishment and reflects the work of an extremely well-run campaign.
The discipline and effectiveness of her campaign should give comfort to anyone who wants to block a demagogue from taking the oath of office.