When his North Carolina Tar Heels had a lead late in a game, the revered college basketball coach Dean Smith relied on his ‘Four Corners’ offense. Keep the ball away from the other guys, run out the clock, chalk up another win for UNC.
In football, another sport with a clock, the ‘Prevent Defense’ is employed to protect a lead near the end of the game. Sure, give up some yardage on short passes, but protect against the bomb.
Well, if any sport is more vicious than pro football, it is politics, and we are now seeing Hillary Clinton running her version of the prevent defense. In this case, the clock is the calendar, and it is expiring quickly.
The Clinton team, according to Politico, wants to ‘run out the clock’ against Donald Trump.
So, amid all the swirling storms of controversy regarding her emails, the Clinton Foundation, and Huma Abedin, Mrs. Clinton is avoiding press conferences and tough interviews like they are the Zika virus.
It is far less risky for the candidate to sit down with Jimmy Kimmel and, mocking rumors about her health, have him take her pulse. Reporters would also like to take her pulse, so to speak, but they just aren’t allowed. Meanwhile, Clinton campaign boss Robbie Mook, smile pasted on his face, tells MSNBC that an actual press conference is ‘under consideration.’ Sure thing, Mr. Mook.
And Donald Trump? He is turning up the heat on Secretary Clinton, focusing on the Foundation and the never-ending email revelations. Mr. Trump is demanding an independent prosecutor, but the chances of that are just south of zero. Hillary Clinton is more likely to sit down for a friendly chat with Judicial Watch, the organization that is playing the role of Inspector Javert to her Jean Valjean.
In addition, Trump is moderating his tone, and this time he really means it! He says he is open to ‘softening’ his stance on mass deportation, and he even claims he is willing to meet with the president. President Nieto of Mexico, that is.
Unfortunately, President Nieto is now being accused of plagiarizing vast portions of his law school thesis, so he may be preoccupied for a while. Then again, if Nieto cribbed from Michelle Obama, he will at least have something in common with Melania Trump.
Anyway, Mrs. Clinton knows full well that her supporters don’t give a damn about the emails or the accusations of pay-for-play at the Foundation, which is certainly showing some cracks. There seems to be a new drip every day, but she may be okay as long as the drip does not turn into a deluge.
Right now the two pugilists must be looking ahead, either with dread or eagerness, to three dates on the calendar: September 26, October 9, and October 19. The presidential debates could change things dramatically. Voters will witness the spectacle of two widely disliked and distrusted candidates standing a few steps from one another, each trying to become slightly more liked and more trusted.
Will Mr. Trump hurl invective across the stage, accusing Mrs. Clinton of all kinds of perfidy? Or will he focus on her record and that of President Obama? There’s plenty of low-hanging fruit when it comes to ObamaCare, the Middle East, the spiraling debt, terrorism, and our economic malaise.
Will Mrs. Clinton blast her opponent’s temperament, portraying him as an emotionally unstable loon? Or will she concentrate on her own experience in statecraft and her ability to get things done in Washington?
The truth is that even the candidates themselves don’t really know what strategy they’ll use in the debates. Getting back to sports, every boxer enters the ring with a plan, which promptly gets trashed the moment a punch lands on his jaw.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are two very competitive and aggressive fighters who simply do not like or respect one another. Even if they suspend the name-calling during the three debates, the nasty tone of this campaign will continue and will probably escalate over the coming 10 weeks.
This is a presidential race unlike any we have seen in the past, unlike any we are likely to see in the future. The differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are enormous, their partisans are rabid.
And the nastiness will probably only escalate. In other words, to plagiarize from songwriter Cy Coleman and lyricist Carolyn Leigh, The Worst is Yet to Come.