Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, H.L. Menken reminded us.
Now, as we look at Secretary Clinton sputtering and fuming in frustration, and we see how well the tactic of becoming an eight year old works for the Donald, we can see the future and it is grim.
Like many insiders, Hillary Clinton has lost the capacity to see herself from the outside. She simply ignores her greatest lesion--she appears to be part of the system which Bernie Sanders and even Trump depict as corrupt.
Central to all this are those speeches she made millions giving at $250,000 a pop. Well, we all do it, she says. Obama did it.
But that's the problem. For the assembly line worker in Methuen, saying, "Well, it was perfectly legal," does not work. To the assembly line worker, the idea of a politician calling up a CEO and asking for a few thousand dollars for his "war chest" or for the party coffers looks indistinguishable from asking for a bribe.
And Hillary says, "Sure. I did what everyone does."
Then, says the woman on the line, everyone ought to be thrown out. You're all crooks.
It doesn't matter to that lady on the line if Trump says keep all the Muslims out. She doesn't like what the Pope says about divorce, or contraception, and she may not like that her gay son cannot take communion, but she's still a Catholic. She can accommodate a lot of things she doesn't like in authority figures, as long as the things she sees as most important are still intact. So, if Trump is a guy who chases skirts, or calls illegal Mexican immigrants rapists, or wants to halt Muslims at the borders until we can figure out a way to screen them, well, how different is that from what the Democrat running for Senate in New Hampshire has said?
The fact is, as the candidate Trump focuses his attacks on Crooked Hillary, he can slide away from his xenophobia, from anything, because he lives in the moment, in the present. He can't remember what he said yesterday.
Hillary lives in the past. So she beats on, a boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.