According to a new book written by New York Times reporter Amy Chozick, Hillary Clinton didn’t go out to that fundraiser in September 2016 and have a slip of the tongue owing to her fever, as she later tried to claim. No, when she stood up in front of New York’s LGBT elite and called many of Donald Trump’s supporters “deplorables,” she was bringing into the public eye an insult she had used often behind closed doors.
At the LGBT for Hillary Gala, in front of television cameras, Clinton said, “We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.
“Right?” she continued upon getting some muted cheers. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”
Other than fainting dead away a couple of days later at a 9/11 event and, well, that whole unfortunate business about her email server, this was probably Hillary’s worst day on the campaign trail. Desperate to overcome the perception that she was this out-of-touch, power-hungry elitist who didn’t care one whit for the working men and women of America, here she was in the first weeks of the general election campaign telling the country what she really thought about people who were even THINKING about casting a vote for Donald Trump.
Clinton never did get around to offering anything close to a real apology for her comments, and thanks to Chozick’s book, we now know why. This was not some off-the-cuff insult she came up with while riffing for the audience. This was a bit she had practiced and perfected in the weeks prior in Manhattan living rooms and socialite circles, where it always got a great reaction.
In “Chasing Hillary,” Chozick writes: “The Deplorables always got a laugh, over living room chats in the Hamptons, at dinner parties under the stars on Martha’s Vineyard, over passed hors d’oeuvres in Beverly Hills, and during sunset cocktails in Silicon Valley.”
Feeling pretty confident about the strength of her comedy (hey, all her rich friends laughed!), Clinton decided to take the “Deplorables” routine on the road. And while this may or may not have been the moment where she lost the election, it’s safe to say that calling “half” of your opponent’s supporters racist, sexist, terrible people will not go down as a tried and true political strategy.