The NYT runs a headline this morning to advise that “To Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Is No Longer a Laughing Matter”:
Until Monday, when Donald J. Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the United States, Hillary Clinton could hardly keep herself from laughing at the mention of his name. “I’m sorry, I can’t help it,” she told ABC News on Sunday, letting out a giggle that made advisers squirm.
She is no longer laughing.
At a town hall here on Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton delivered her most damning, direct criticism of Mr. Trump, saying that he traffics “in prejudice and paranoia,” and that his Muslim proposal was “not only shameful, it’s dangerous.”
Ostensibly this is Hillary giving us what she perceives as the appropriate reaction to a grossly inappropriate proposal from Herr Trump. And it’s probably exactly that and no more.
But what if it’s actually a shrewd and Machiavellian move by one of the shrewdest and most Machiavellian figures in modern American politics (second perhaps only to her husband)?
My theory goes like this: Hillary wants to run against Trump because Trump is a clown and Hillary, though generally disliked, is largely respected and at least taken seriously; to run against Trump, Hillary needs the Republican establishment to support him at least enough to nominate him; Hillary knows the more she laughs at Trump, the more the Republican establishment thinks they’ve got to nominate a more serious candidate; so, Hillary takes Trump seriously to convince his party to do the same, all the while secretly hoping she can influence the Republicans to nominate the most beatable candidate.
Probably not true, but an intriguing theory all the same.