Writing in the Washington Post
today, Paul Waldman highlighted
an often overlooked point about the presidential race:
When important events occur during the presidential campaign, we can get some sense of how the candidates would act if they were in the Oval Office. They don't have the ability to do anything about a financial crisis or a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, but at least we can watch what they say and what instincts seem to be driving them.
Agreed. When explosive devices are found in and near New York City -- including one detonation that sent dozens to nearby hospitals -- neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have any official responsibilities. They're both private citizens, watching developments unfold as candidates, not officeholders.
But that doesn't mean their responses are trivial. In effect, stories like these are important pop quizzes for would-be presidents -- and if they haven't studied or prepared, they'll struggle to pass.
For her part, Clinton, a former senator and Secretary of State, has responded to events in New York and New Jersey as one would expect her to: with reasoned, responsible stances, calls for vigilance, appeals to Americans' sense of fairness, and reminders about some of her related policy proposals she intends to implement if elected.
Trump's first instinct over the weekend was to tell supporters
, in reference to national security, "I will give you good results. Don't worry how I get there, okay? Please." He added on Saturday night -- before he had any of the relevant facts -- that the explosion in Chelsea was the result of a "bomb," which turned out to be true, and in the process, this became it the single most important part of the story for Trump.
"What I said was exactly correct," the Republican boasted this morning. "I should be a newscaster because I called it before the news." (In case anyone's confused, "newscasters" are not supposed to guess what they think might have happened, and then hope the news proves their guess correct.) read more