Has the 'Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy' Actually Won?

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
Robert Bittman (right), deputy to Kenneth Starr as independent counsel, hands a report to then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, getting the impeachment of Bill Clinton underway in 1998. Bill Clinton survived; both Starr and Gingrich have gone through subsequent rises and falls; now Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. But how deep a mark did those years leave on her? (Reuters photo)

A reader from the United States who now lives in Europe observes with alarm the recent trend in the polls. He is responding specifically to this item by Ron Fournier, arguing that on fundamentals Hillary Clinton should be enjoying a very wide lead over Donald Trump rather than the very narrow edge that the latest polls show:

We’re going to find out in less than four months if The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has won. (I deliberately put TVRWC in capitals, and not in quotes, because I’ve always believed it’s real. I’m not paranoid. I do believe in the self-organizing properties of complex systems.)

And if TVRWC has won, it will not have won on the battlefield of public opinion. It will have won inside Hillary Clinton’s head. Because it has been there that TVRWC planted the seeds of effective self-destruction, to be fertilized by Clinton’s worst instincts and tendencies. [Referring to the self-protective fear of investigations that may have led to HRC’s email policy, which of course ironically has opened her up to investigation.]

I’m waiting to see where the polls settle out after the two conventions. I’m not discounting that Clinton may be trailing Trump at the end of the month, even given any margin of error.

Trump’s ground game had better be as weak, and continue to be as weak, as some would now have us believe. And Clinton’s ground game had better be better than Obama’s.


Meanwhile, a view of what might be ahead in Cleveland. A reader suggests:

For the record: I want to note Trump’s penchant for grinding his heel in the faces of his defeated opponents, q.v. his treatment of Chris Christie.

Will he feel compelled to mention the absence of the Bushes? Romney? McCain? How can he not? How will he treat the NeverTrump delegates? (There won’t be a motion to make the nomination unanimous, at least before the call of the states is complete and perhaps not even then?)

You haven’t won until your opponent acknowledges you are better (more: amazing? fantastic?) than he. Even your supporters can’t get off without acknowledging you are better than they, can they? Else, your victory depended on them, no?

BTW: Have you heard the audio of Howard Stern asking Donald and Ivanka and one of the sons to multiply 17 by 6? The nation is in a LOT of trouble!

Yes, that math pop-quiz is worth watching, if you haven’t seen it.