Better than Trump not enough

With Donald Trump saying everything he possibly can to get Hillary Clinton elected, it is difficult to focus on her gaffes and below-the-belt attacks. But they are out there.

There is, for instance, the smearing of Trump as a Russian handpuppet.

“It’s troubling that some experts are now telling us that this [leaking of emails] was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump,” said Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook. It is more troubling—far more—that Mook provided no evidence. though he was asked directly for it. Imagine if U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy had made such a comment in 1953. How would Democrats have reacted? Probably the way some of them are reacting to Clinton’s Russia-baiting. This is from the Nation Magazine, a century-plus old liberal journal:

“Instead of engaging Trump on … issues, political-media elites, including the Clinton campaign itself, have assailed him with McCarthyite allegations of being Putin’s ’puppet,’ ’agent,’ ’Manchurian candidate,’ and ’Kremlin client’.”

Clinton cannot claim that these were excessive statements by her aides. When they reach the level of campaign manager, they are part of a campaign strategy approved by the candidate. Moreover, as journalist Robert Parry recalls, Hillary Clinton has a history of using McCarthyite guilt-by-association: In 2008 she “injected a false suggestion that [Obama friend William] Ayers had either hailed the 9/11 attacks or had used the occasion as a grotesque opportunity to call for more bombings. … In another guilt-by-association moment, Hillary Clinton linked Obama, via his former church pastor Jeremiah Wright, to Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan and a Hamas representative who had been allowed to publish an essay in the church’s newsletter.”

There is also the issue of Hillary Clinton’s casual acquaintance with facts, such as the 40 percent myth on gun background checks. During the New Hampshire primary, she said, “Forty percent of guns are sold at gun shows, online sales.” By the time she used that hoary statistic it was already discredited. President Obama had used it more than once in 2013, and it had been found flawed by fact checkers at the Associated Press, Politifact and (twice) the Washington Post. Yet it is still posted on Clinton’s website, albeit softened a bit: “It is estimated that 20 to 40 percent of all gun purchases in America are conducted with no background check.” Even the 20 percent figure is high.

The Obama/Clinton claim rests on a survey for which data was collected between 1991 and 1994, when the Brady Law finally took effect. Moreover, their use of sales and purchases overlooks the fact that the study referenced acquisitions—including gifts and inherited guns.

It is difficult for the public to hold Trump to account for his vicious, false and underhanded verbiage when his opponent is doing the same thing.

This is a message for winners in the RN&R “Best of Northern Nevada” competition: This newspaper does not sell plaques. First-place winners will receive framed copies of their awards at the “Best of Northern Nevada” party later this year. But anyone trying to sell plaques associated with the competition does not speak for the Reno News & Review.