Donald Trump’s Ministry of Information a.k.a. Drudge Report has begun focusing on the last-resort story to try and dig the Master out of his bottomless pit in the polls: Hillary is dying.
A series of stories about Hillary Clinton’s failing, ailing health was documented by RedState’s Brandon Morse. His fellow writer Susan Wright followed up:
Another way to look at it is to say there’s enough evidence to suggest that a Hillary Clinton presidency would likely turn into some third world puppet show, where the actual president dies, but her advisors and cabinet hide it from the public for years, showing only old footage of her to the media and sending out multiple spokesmen to give her latest decree. Meanwhile, her decaying corpse is stored away in a freezer, at some secret location.
There’s nothing more delicious to Trump and his team than picking over Hillary’s dead body–quite literally. I mean there’s stories about dead Democrats voting in elections, but very few dead Democrats actually win them.
Why would this story, that has been kicked around for seven years, be such a big deal for Trump? Because it signals that Trump is out of ammunition. A former Trump landslide predictor, Scott Adams, who has consistently blogged about Trump’s master persuasion techniques, has changed his tone.
My prediction from last year – that Trump would win the general election in a landslide – was based on his persuasion advantage. That advantage is largely gone now because Clinton has evidently hired some weapons-grade Master Persuaders and moved to a purely emotional appeal, specifically fear. And it is working.
If nothing changes, Clinton will win in November. But things rarely stay the same. Here are several ways Trump could still win from behind.
1. Voters discover that Clinton has been hiding a major health issue.
2. Wikileaks releases something damaging.
3. Trump over-performs at the first debate, showing the world that he is willing and able to master the issues.
4. Trump makes the case that the Clinton Foundation is really about selling influence to foreign concerns.
5. Trump gives a speech or interview that is so effective in its empathy that he no longer appears to be crazy and racist.
6. A new surprise revelation about Clinton that no one sees coming.
7. Terror attacks push everything else out of the headlines in the final months.
8. Someone assassinates Clinton because of Trump’s 2nd Amendment joke.
Number 1 on the list is Hillary’s health. That’s a guaranteed “kill shot” in presidential elections. Nobody wants their candidate to be incapacitated in office (who wants Acting President Kaine?).
Let’s go through the rest of Adams’ list. Wikileaks has been tried and didn’t dent Clinton’s hood ornament. People know she’s a liar. But she’s not as scary a liar as Trump. The Donald overperforming at a debate is about as unlikely as him holding a consistent policy position. Clinton’s biggest problem in debates is she might resemble Jeb Bush a bit too much.
As for number 4–nobody is arguing against the fact that the Clinton Foundation sold favors. But the press isn’t going to make a huge scandal out of it. Anything Trump says to that effect will be buried on page 24 next to the trash pickup schedule. Number 5 is just crazy talk: It’s simply impossible at this point for Trump to rehabilitate his image in one speech or interview. People would search for the body double.
A “surprise” revelation about Clinton (other than she’s dying) is fairly unlikely–although the Russians might be keeping one in their pocket. It would have to be a doozy. Number 7 is a good bet: Terrorism is going to happen. But that story has begun to lose its shine, and only chumps are following it. As for a Clinton assassination–first of all, Trump likes Hillary and wasn’t really suggesting anyone kill her (although the double entendre was on purpose); second of all, the Secret Service is very good at what they do, so let’s move on.
So we’re back to number 1. A whispering campaign about Hillary’s “stamina” and her falls, and her concussions and her cackles and blurts may catch some wind, especially if she does it during a debate. It’s the last resort for Trump, who knows he will face a solid wall of “release your tax returns,” plus accusations of Russian connections from Hillary.
If the story starts to pick up steam, watch for Trump to make his usual outrageous statement. It will be something like “Have you heard the latest about Hillary? They’re saying she’s dying. I mean really about to die. You’d think she would want to be with her family. Hillary really should drop out, as sick as she is. But that’s what they’re saying. I don’t know.” The media will pick it up and Hillary will have to prove to everyone she’s not dying.
Pass the popcorn.