Opinion: Obama has more to worry about than bathrooms


By Andrew Malcolm, @AHMalcolm

President Barack Obama’s communications strategists found a perfect tool to distract the public in recent days: Bathrooms.

And who can use which ones. It involves everyone. It’s contentious. It’s emotional. So the media lap it up.

And as his manipulators know full well, the controversy invites countless other public figures to weigh in and feed the flames, news cycle after news cycle. In yet another executive overreach to redirect public discussion, Obama arbitrarily ruled that every public school receiving federal funds must allow the minute fraction of society who are transgender to use the restrooms of their choice, not their biological genders.


We’re being played again, folks.

Here’s what’s really at stake: Obama’s heir apparent and legacy protector, the 68-year-old Hillary Clinton, is getting shredded in Democratic primary after primary by a 74-year-old socialist, Bernie Sanders.

Like Donald Trump in the GOP, Sanders suddenly declared himself a convenient Democrat after a political lifetime elsewhere. Obama would also like to distract you from the slipping new-job creation rates. Obamacare and its artificial state exchanges are crumbling beneath the weight of their own costs and disincentives.

A federal judge last week ruled against a crucial part of that program. Disturbing reports of the military’s poor readiness mount, including planes being cannibalized for parts to keep half the jets flying. Obama’s sanctions against Russia have failed to change any of its behaviors in Ukraine, Crimea, Syria or the high seas. Another special ops member was killed in Iraq, where, according to Obama, there are no U.S. boots on the ground, and anyway, they’re not in combat.

ISIS has lost territory but none of its deadly car-bomb punch in urban Iraq. And the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, admits those JV ISIS guys will not be curtailed under this president.

Trump is winning the Republican nomination with a campaign slogan, “Make America great again.” It is, of course, just another empty T-shirt phrase, like “hope and change.” But it’s simple and catchy.

What’s the main theme of Clinton’s campaign? Or does she even use a catchy phrase? Correct.


There is none.

If there were, it would be something like “I’ll be Barack’s third term, only more so.” That’s a risky theme given the latest Reuters/Ipsos Poll. Only 21 percent of Americans believe the country is on the right track, while 68 percent say the wrong track.

You want more of this? Unlike her slick husband, Hillary Clinton is a horrible campaigner: stilted, programmed, strident. She shows her sincerity by TALKING LOUDER! Half the time she’s playing defense against her own words, as in West Virginia, where she reveled in all the coal companies and miners she’s going to put out of work.

As one direct result, after winning 67 percent of the primary vote there against a real opponent in Obama eight years ago, this time, as the presumptive party nominee, she could capture only 38 percent against Sanders’ 51 percent. Worse for her, 50 percent of women there voted against the first potential female commander in chief.

And 43 percent of Sanders voters said they’d jump to Trump in November.

The Democratic nominating system, of course, is rigged in her favor with unelected superdelegates. Sanders is trying to convince them to defect by earning more popular votes in primaries than she does. That’s difficult, but not impossible.

It’s also mortifying for Clinton.

She’s fundraising now, attacking Trump and Sanders, trying to take advantage of the bathroom distraction. And she’s still calling the Justice Department email probe “a security review” despite the FBI director’s repeated contradictions that there is no such thing.

Trump has already pivoted to general election business while she fights a rear-guard action against Sanders. She’s even buying TV ads in Kentucky, once a gimme.

But the best thing Clinton has going for her in November, polls show, is Trump. Clinton and Trump are both unpopular, disliked and not trusted.

For now, the female New Yorker is less disliked than the billionaire New Yorker. That might change, given Trump’s media skills.

But meanwhile here’s a possible Clinton campaign slogan: “Not as bad as the other one.”


Malcolm is an author and veteran national and foreign correspondent covering politics since the 1960s.


(c)2016 McClatchy Washington Bureau

Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau at www.mcclatchydc.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.