Why vot­ers want ‘none of the above’

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - Ruben Navarette Jr.

— What’s the mat­ter with the ma­jor par­ties’ pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates?

No, se­ri­ously. I’m start­ing to think that these two aren’t wired right. Ei­ther they don’t have good ad­vis­ers, or they’re not lis­ten­ing to what­ever ad­vice they’re get­ting. The mis­takes they make are ob­vi­ous, yet they can’t stop mak­ing them. And nei­ther can­di­date is will­ing to ac­knowl­edge the er­rors, let alone apol­o­gize for them.

Up to now, it’s been easy to think that the rea­son that so many Amer­i­cans are un­happy with hav­ing to choose be­tween Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald

SAN DIEGO

Trump is that the rough and tum­ble of the pri­mary cam­paign left each of them a lit­tle beat up. If Clin­ton hadn’t had such a dif­fi­cult time putting an end to Bernie San­ders’ chal­lenge, or if Trump hadn’t found Ted Cruz to be such a tena­cious op­po­nent, the ar­gu­ment goes, there would be far fewer vot­ers who are un­com­fort­able with the choice. In fact, it’s widely ac­cepted in po­lit­i­cal cir­cles that, in No­vem­ber, the best get-out-the-vote ef­fort for both par­ties will be to scare vot­ers to the polls — not to vote for their can­di­date but to vote against the other.

Trump and Clin­ton jab at one an­other ev­ery day on the stump, with Trump crit­i­ciz­ing the hon­esty of “Crooked Hil­lary” and Clin­ton in­sist­ing that Trump doesn’t have the tem­per­a­ment or prepa­ra­tion to be pres­i­dent. To lis­ten to Trump, Clin­ton is un­trust- wor­thy. To hear Clin­ton tell it, Trump is un­sta­ble.

Yet nei­ther can­di­date has been able to draw blood from the other. And when they do take a hit, or gar­ner pub­lic crit­i­cism, it’s usu­ally be­cause of self-in­flicted wounds.

Trump re­peat­edly hurts his own cause by say­ing out­ra­geous things, in­sult­ing peo­ple, and pre­tend­ing to be more knowl­edge­able than he re­ally is in pol­icy ar­eas like for­eign af­fairs. Add to that the fact that his so­cial skills are of­ten atro­cious. At ev­ery turn, Trump ex­udes the ar­ro­gance of the stereo­typ­i­cal rich guy who feels en­ti­tled to any­thing he wants. The Clin­ton camp has re­port­edly started call­ing it the “jerk” fac­tor, em­pha­siz­ing that many Amer­i­cans see Trump as ob­nox­ious and un­lik­able.

In one re­cent par­tic­u­larly cringe­wor­thy episode, Trump proudly ac­cepted the Pur­ple Heart of a mil­i­tary veteran, say­ing that he “al­ways wanted to get the Pur­ple Heart” and jok­ing that get­ting it this way was “much eas­ier.” Be­fore long, a pow­er­ful video sur­faced from the Union Vet­er­ans’ Coun­cil of the AFL-CIO. In it, Iraq War veteran Will Fis­cher, a for­mer Marine, scolded Trump and ex­plained that, since a soldier only gets the medal if in­jured or killed, “no­body with one, ever wanted it.”

Clin­ton’s prob­lem is that she can’t stop ly­ing. Whether she’s win­ning or los­ing, up against the wall or in the clear, she can’t help her­self. She al­ways stretches the truth. And even when she gets called on it, she re­fuses to ac­knowl­edge it. Con­sider her re­cent claims that FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey in­formed the House Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Beng­hazi that she had told the Amer­i­can peo­ple the truth about whether she sent clas­si­fied or top se­cret emails from a pri­vate server. It’s not enough that Comey re­fused to rec­om­mend charges against Clin­ton for her care­less han­dling of sen­si­tive ma­te­rial. The Demo­cratic nom­i­nee has to in­sist she did noth­ing wrong and never told a sin­gle lie dur­ing the whole af­fair.

Clin­ton now says that she may have “short-cir­cuited” her an­swer to a ques­tion about the email server. When, dur­ing an in­ter­view on “Fox News Sun­day,” host Chris Wal­lace pointed out that Comey had ac­knowl­edged that a num­ber of things that Clin­ton told the Amer­i­can peo­ple were sim­ply not true, Clin­ton de­nied it. So Wal­lace played a video of Rep. Trey Gowdy, chair of the com­mit­tee, ask­ing Comey if what Clin­ton said was true when she claimed that “there was noth­ing marked clas­si­fied on her emails ei­ther sent or re­ceived.” Comey re­sponded: “That’s not true.”

For her dou­ble-talk, Clin­ton earned four “Pinoc­chios” from the fact-checker at the Wash­ing­ton Post — the worst grade pos­si­ble for telling whop­pers.

These are our ma­jor choices, Amer­ica. Dread­ful, aren’t they? No won­der so many Amer­i­cans sup­port “none of the above,” or are se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing a vote for the Green Party or Lib­er­tar­ian ticket.

Maybe the con­sumer un­der­stands that both of the ma­jor prod­ucts are de­fec­tive, and that — no mat­ter which one they choose — we’re prob­a­bly look­ing at four years’ worth of em­bar­rass­ment, spin and dis­ap­point­ment.

Ruben Navarette Jr. is a syn­di­cated colum­nist from the Wash­ing­ton Post. His email is reuben@ruben­navarette.com.

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