Hillary Clinton used a major foreign policy address in San Diego this afternoon to relentlessly trash Donald Trump as fundamentally unfit for the presidency. She said Trump's vision for America and the world is "dangerously incoherent," argued that Trump's temperament is embarrassing and perilous, and even questioned his psychological stability while slamming what she described as his admiration for authoritarians. She also noted that Trump has been disparaging America as a declining laughingstock for decades, casting him as a relentless critic of the country she repeatedly praised as exceptional and indispensable. Her tone walked a fine line between serious, informed adult-in-the-roomism, and contemptuous "are you serious?" mockery of the presumptive Republican nominee. She framed her longtime friend and donor as a clownish punchline crossed with a know-nothing madman. Make no mistake, this was a very tough speech, and I suspect its construction and themes will be fairly effective -- and that we'll hear much more of this sort of material in the coming months. A rough transcript is here, with full video below:
Throughout her remarks, Clinton baited Trump, ridiculing him as a thin-skinned ignoramus, even joking that he was likely firing off 'nasty tweets' as she spoke. On that score, at least, she was right. His real-time reaction:
Crooked Hillary no longer has credibility - too much failure in office. People will not allow another four years of incompetence!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 2, 2016
Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton! Reading poorly from the telepromter! She doesn't even look presidential!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 2, 2016
Even as she delivered blow after blow, Mrs. Clinton exposed herself to numerous policy criticisms and charges of hypocrisy. She said that America "stands up to countries that treat women as animals," ignoring the lucrative donations her family foundation has happily accepted from repressive nations. She praised the terrible and fraudulently-sold Iran deal that Trump rightly opposes, erecting strawmen as the only alternatives to striking a recklessly lopsided and concession-laden bargain with an evil regime that the US government just affirmed remains the planet's top state sponsor of terrorism. She suggested that Trump's poor judgment and juvenile impulses could embroil the United States in ill-advised conflicts and overseas interventions. This, from a woman whose record and rhetoric on Iraq has been craven at every level, and who championed and advocated costly misadventures in Libya and Syria.
She sneered at Trump's ridiculous secret plan to defeat ISIS, stating flatly that he doesn't actually have one. But ISIS' rise and proliferation was directly caused by the Obama/Clinton foreign policy, which insisted upon a precipitous and politically-motivated withdrawal from Iraq, and that manipulated and ignored intelligence that demonstrated that the terror army constituted a far more serious threat than a ragtag "jayvee" team. "There's nothing I take more seriously than our national security," she averred, hoping that viewers would simply forget how she knowingly and deliberately compromised our national security with her improper and unsecure email scheme -- about which she's endlessly lied, and for which she's under active FBI investigation. I analyzed this feud, as well as the Trump University controversy, prior to Clinton's speech (via Right Sightings):
As I said on the air, pounding away at Trump's foreign policy incoherence and whiplash-inducing shifting -- and that's what it is, on anti-ISIS ground troops, on ordering illegal torture, on the seriousness of the Muslim ban proposal, etc. -- is fair game for Hillary. These issues are in her wheelhouse, and they're substantive. Trump is allergic to substance. Peppering those criticisms with sharp jabs at his temperament would also be smart; polling shows that he's hugely vulnerable on that front. But if she thinks she will magically get a pass on her glaring foreign policy failures, or that her "not qualified" assessment won't invite some very unflattering turnabout, she's badly mistaken.