Arrogance May Prove to Be the Downfall of Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton’s stumble and near faint at the 9/11 memorial did something that I did not know was possible: it made me pity her. As her legs buckled beneath her, any and all animus I may have felt toward her public posture and policies disappeared, because my heart was filled with compassion and concern.
The woman who famously fired back at criticism for her failure to secure the Benghazi consulate by saying, “What difference does it make?” — who bragged about being the architect of a deal that will eventually fund the Iran terror government to the tune of $150 billion, and who bragged about being Obama’s “designated yeller” at Prime Minister Netanyahu — suddenly appeared frail, vulnerable and weak.
And my heart went out to her.
I was relieved to see her a few hours later, looking bright and sunny outside of her daughter Chelsea’s apartment and commenting on what a beautiful day it was in New York.
No one wants to see a presidential candidate sick, and no one wants to see a wife, mother and grandmother take ill. I truly wish Hillary a complete recovery from her pneumonia, and God’s blessings for good health.
But in the stagger outside the 9/11 memorial, I saw the collapse of Hillary’s bid for president. Not that this necessarily means that she will lose the election, but rather that the certainty of her victory is now gone forever.
Donald Trump was being destroyed in the polls because of one word: arrogance. It was arrogance that led him to declare that immigrants from Mexico are rapists. It was arrogance that had him demanding that all Muslims be barred temporarily from the United States. It was arrogance that allowed him to stupidly fire back at gold star parents who had attacked him at the Democratic convention. And it was arrogance that prevented him from ever apologizing for his mistakes and taking responsibility for his missteps.
In all of these instances, Trump’s lack of humility exposed his insensitivity and alienated huge swaths of voters.
But that very arrogance led to his collapse in the polls nationally, especially in the battleground states.
To his credit, Trump seems to have learned the lesson that leaders must comport themselves with humility, even as they project confidence and strength.
On Thursday, August 18, Trump shocked the nation by expressing contrition and regret. “Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it. And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues,” Trump told his audience.” Yes, he could have been more specific about which wrongs he was apologizing for. But the apology was powerful and welcome nonetheless.
On June 22, I published an op-ed in The Hill titled, “Mr. Trump, strong men like you apologize.” In it, I wrote, “Apologies do not come from weakness but from strength. The feeble man fears that an apology is capitulation, while the strong man knows that taking responsibility for an error is a sign of courage and conviction.”
I added a personal plea to Trump: “Win over your adversaries, Mr. Trump. Surprise them with graciousness and magnanimity.”
Many others called on Trump to do the same. Don’t give us Hillary Clinton by default, by running a campaign that tramples on values and lacks respect.
I lived in Europe for 11 years and I know that Americans are perceived abroad as both brazen and brash. But the truth is that America is a nation that values humility and self-effacement in its leaders, which is why Ronald Reagan’s “ah, shucks” warmth resonated so deeply with the American public, as did Bill Clinton biting his lip and feeling our pain.
After the blue dress forced President Clinton to admit to an improper relationship with Monica Lewinsky, he initially told the country to go to hell. It was a private matter and none of the public’s business. He cratered in the polls. But when he came back, apologized for his behavior and asked the country for forgiveness, he left office with a 60 percent approval rating — even after being impeached.
America is a deeply religious country and we never forget that the Bible praises Moses, the greatest of all leaders, with humility above all else: “And the man Moses was the most humble man who walked the earth.”
Though I am friendly with members of Trump’s family and know many people in his campaign, I criticized him for a public posture that violated what I considered the basic Jewish values of courtesy and respect. And I must therefore applaud the candidate for a solid few weeks of correcting the error and running a campaign that has substantively and legitimately criticized Hillary Clinton not for anything personal, but rather undermining the integrity of the State Department with personal favors for Clinton Foundation donors, her policy of appeasing Iran, and not calling out Islamic terrorism for reasons of cowardly political correctness.
What Trump did so effectively the past few weeks was turn the tables and show us Hillary’s arrogance and her own refusal to apologize. Rather than express complete regret, she continued to deny that she had sent classified information on her unsecured personal server in direct contradiction of the FBI’s findings. And whatever good the Clinton Foundation has done in parts of the world, especially in Africa, Hillary still refuses to apologize for the utter corruption of abusing the second highest office in the land to favor Clinton Foundation donors, or for raking in money from misogynists like Saudi Arabia and Hamas-loving terror-funders like Qatar.
All this arrogance came gushing forth most powerfully when, on Friday, Hillary could not control herself at a fundraiser of the ultra-rich, and actually called half of Trump’s supporters “a basket of deplorables.” If defaming millions of American citizens she has never met as “racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic” is not arrogant, then the word has no meaning.
And that’s why Hillary’s stumble outside 9/11 might just have cost her the election. Not because her health situation may be serious, as I truly hope it isn’t. But rather because the pity she elicited in our hearts in seeing her frailty reminded us that it should have not required a health scare to humble Hillary and peel away an increasingly thick layer of arrogance and contempt.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America” is the international best-selling author of 31 books, including “The Israel Warrior” which he will publish this month. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.