Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Unfitness for office is fair comment, but ‘this country is gonna die’? Really?

Personally, and notwithstanding the fact that Donald Trump previously contributed to Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the U.S. Senate, I think Trump was well within his rights to express his views on Hillary Clinton’s character and fitness to be president, as he did in Redding, California, on Friday, especially after the searing attack Clinton made last week on Trump’s fitness for the job.

Quoting from Politico’s coverage of the attack on Clinton, for example, Trump said:

“Frankly, I honestly believe — and I really mean this — I think that Hillary Clinton is unfit to lead our country, certainly at this time,” Trump said. “I think she’s unfit. She doesn’t have what it takes.”

By the currently debased standards of civility in our political discourse, I rate that one as fair comment.

But Trump’s blowhardy impulses are so overwhelming that he can’t stop saying things so ridiculous as to undermine his message and his credibility, as in the same California talk:

“If you choose Hillary Clinton, this country is gonna die. It’s gonna die.”

Really? Die? The United States is “gonna die?” How would that occur? What would that look like? Mr. Trump, please advise, expand, elucidate.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (31)

  1. Submitted by Jim Million on 06/06/2016 - 03:25 pm.


    “By the currently debased standards of civility in our political discourse, I rate that one as fair comment.”

    I’d consider that “fair comment” in any election where fitness is clearly in question. No matter what happens in November, if current contest stands, the United States voters will elect someone who is in several ways unfit for the office.

    The dismal fact of 2016 seems to be that we no longer require any absolute standards, accepting standards of declining relativity.

  2. Submitted by Rick Prescott on 06/06/2016 - 06:10 pm.

    Playing on the Big Playground

    Given that many (Reds and Blues) have already publicly questioned Trump’s fitness for the office, and suggested a similarly dire outcome, this looks a lot like an I’m-rubber-you’re-glue defense — which fits perfectly with the tenor of this election cycle. Why would anyone be surprised by such an approach from this man?

  3. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 06/06/2016 - 07:43 pm.

    Reporters probing questions can touch ones self-esteem

    Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/07/2016 - 05:51 am.

    Really? Die? The United States is “gonna die?” How would that occur?

    These are good questions. I would note that certainly a country that is taking Donald Trump seriously is hardly in good political health, but does that mean our nation is dying? I am not certain that is, the possibility of Trump presidency surely means the question is not rhetorical, and I think, worthy of a serious discussion.

    What are the signs of a dying America? I mean other than Trump? Does America show them?

  5. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 06/07/2016 - 09:22 am.

    This is the Trump response to the Clinton speech on his (lack of) fitness for office.

    No other big-league Republican has stepped up in his defense of his fitness.

    (Geez, do I have to do everything myself !?!–the problem for all megalomaniacs.)

  6. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/07/2016 - 10:50 am.


    In my personal view, I think in recent years our country faced two existential crises, one political and constitutional, the other economic.

    The political and constitutional crisis came in the aftermath of the Florida presidential recount in 2000. Without going into a lot of detail, I think the possibility that the election might have been thrown to the house combined with a dispute over the credentials of Florida electors, had the potential of bringing down the government. It could have been our greatest constitutional crisis since the civil war. That crisis was averted by the Supreme Court’s decision in Gore v. Bush.

    The second existential crisis was the near collapse of our economy in 2007 and 2008. Without bipartisan action, and I give President Bush full credit along with others for this in putting aside politics aside and working with leaders of all sides, the economy could have collapsed with unpredictable and possibly catastrophic impact on our institutions and our politics.

    Those two crises have continued to have impact on our politics today. The institutions we depended on then, are demonstrably weaker now. The Supreme Court’s intervention in Gore v. Bush undermined it’s credibility, and lacking troops, credibility is the only source of power it has ever had. The bipartisan solutions reached to avert the financial crisis of 2008 have permanently weakened the authority of our federal government, and led to the rise of the rejectionist tea party and the nihilistic Donald Trump.

    We got through those two crises using resources in our political culture by the skin of our teeth, using resources of political good will, that we have not replaced. The question I have had for a good long while now is, faced with similar or worse crises in the future, do we still have the political strength and will to survive them?

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 06/07/2016 - 06:13 pm.

      2008 Cooperation

      Thanks for noting the close coordination of 2008. I recall reading a bit later the White House transition team cooperation was of historic magnitude, with something like over 100 positions/functions involved. More than a usual “shadow” transition, that one involved close partnership of incoming/outgoing people. The auto bailout was perhaps most critical immediately, as Chrysler was the focus until GM quietly said in December, “me, too.”
      That was the big shocker.

      Given all other chaotic news items, the transition diligence and success was only lightly reported.

  7. Submitted by thomas wexler on 06/07/2016 - 12:15 pm.

    Trump and hate speech


    ‘Make Germany great again’, was the theme that caused World War II era Germans to rally behind a leader who vilified Jews and other minorities. The Jews were peaceable God-worshipping people. But, to make Germany great again, men, women and children were loaded onto boxcars and transported to prison camps for extermination. Lives that had every humanitarian right to exist, to thrive, and to love were decreed to die to make Germany great again. It was a hate-filled theme that resonated with the fears of ordinary people who were being promised that what was not right with their lives would become right with the ‘plan’.
    Is hate speech going to carry us into another historical disaster?
    This is a complicated world. Government of diverse people and interests is not easy. We have to want democracy and all the difficulties it entails. The complex issues of a democratic society require study, debate and compromise. It is often a troubling process. It commonly results in solutions which one side or another, or maybe both sides, find unsatisfactory. But it is all part of a process of rule of law that is likely the finest known to man.
    Now comes an impulsive, intemperate person who proposes to ‘make us great again. He appeals to the common person who deals with the familiar struggles of life, as most of us do, and he promises to make us great in part by messages of hate. It is a theme that resonates with many, but it is a lie. No, it is more than a lie, it is fraudulent and dangerous. It is the precursor of a failed society. His all too common pronouncements are the antithesis of morality.
    If we want a democracy, then we need to accept the difficulties that are part of a democracy. We need to vigilantly protect the rights of people with whom we may disagree. When the government comes to my door, there must be a society that will protect my rights even though many in that society may not be of the same politics, nationality, persuasion, race or religion. It is not always easy to advocate for the rights of persons with whom you do not identify or may dislike or even with whom you may disagree, but that is often what democracy requires.
    We do not need to be made great again. We are a great country, with great systems. We have problems and we have established process to address those problems. We do have many serious issues and we need serious people to address them. We do not need false promises, and we do not need hate speech. What we do need is to understand history and to reject those who would lead us to demise and disaster.

  8. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/07/2016 - 12:58 pm.

    Godwin’s Law

    Out of respect for Godwin’s Law, I am not comparing anyone to Hitler, but there sure are a lot of Franz Von Papen’s running around.

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/07/2016 - 03:22 pm.


    “If we want a democracy, then we need to accept the difficulties that are part of a democracy”

    I think this is profoundly true.

    There is a new HBO made for tv movie out there about the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as a justice of the Supreme Court. Now that was a pretty miserable process generating a lot of blame to go around. But watching the movie and looking back at the nomination, what is amazing from the perspective of today is that Justice Thomas, despite being ideologically objectionable to an extraordinary degree, was given a full hearing that people however ineptly, tried to make fair by a senate controlled by the opposite party. And what is even more amazing is that the senate controlled by that party, confirmed him, a decision which has been enormously damaging to the party in the quarter century since.

    In the terms of Mr. Wexler, that was a case accepting the difficulties, of making a tough choice required by democracy. And it’s an example of a decision that could be made then, but couldn’t be made today, which in my view is pretty graphic evidence that this country, in Eric’s words, is dying.

  10. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 06/07/2016 - 04:44 pm.

    Let’s go back to Trump’s quoted words. After all, it was not Eric who referred to the U.S. of A. “dying.” It was Donald Trump.

    Trump does not speak logically or seem capable of developing a full idea. He is a supremely redundant, empty-short-sentence speaker. In this instance, he makes an unsupported wild claim: that [former Secretary of State and former U.S. Senator from New York] Hillary Clinton is “unfit” [to be president]. He claims that she’s unfit, then he repeats that she’s unfit, then he says that “she doesn’t have what it takes” [i.e., that she’s unfit]. This is the equivalent of pounding on the table with your shoe, or stomping in frustration because you simply can’t figure out the reasons for what you say. You fill the air with repetitions of the same thing, over and over and over (verbatim or with euphemisms).

    He doesn’t say how or why she’s unfit. That’s probably because she is absolutely fit for the job, and he knows that very well. It’s he who everyone is gravely in doubt about, and he knows that, too.

    Trump talks a lot, frequently in rambling rants. He just doesn’t manage to say anything much of substance.

  11. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 06/08/2016 - 12:07 am.

    Rabid dog

    Hitler had a horrible plan – exterminate millions of people and take over the world. He found many people to help plan these things and talked many Germans to follow his lead. Reality is that he almost succeeded at both evil plans.

    Anyone who anyway has the dictator mindset that is attempting to be the leader of the free world is just completely unqualified. Donald Trump as a peacemaker? An absurd notion for a guy who restrain him attacking people he needs as friends.

    One thing that might lessen the risk with Trump is he appears to think that no one else’s opinion is needed and other people are not trusted. Hitler had many loyal lieutenants and people who swallowed whole his hogwash of the master race. Is it surprising that white supremacist love Trump, but does Trump have the ability to inspire loyalty. Hate yes, loyalty no.

    Is anyone suggesting Hillary in any way resembles Hitler? Attempts to portray her as a risk to the survival of the world. Just not happening.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 06/08/2016 - 08:01 am.

      I’m unsure of your last comment

      Are you suggesting that simply because Candidate A is criticized because he exhibits certain behaviors, then candidate B should also be open to criticism, even if the same behaviors aren’t present? Candidates are treated differently because they act and behave differently. It’s why they don’t have a lot of snow plows along the equator.

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/08/2016 - 07:17 am.


    For me, a big part of the decline of our country, the possibility of it’s dying in Eric’s terms, is the large and growing attack on the legitimacy of our institutions and our processes. I see this in a lot of different ways. When someone tells you taxation is a form of theft, what they are saying is that the authority by which government taxes you is not based on law. That’s what theft is, a taking contrary to law. When someone tells you that a president duly elected by the American people is not qualified to be president, that’s an attack on legitimacy. And when the leading exponent of that view becomes the nominee of one of our major and historic parties, that’s evidence that our government lacks legitimacy is becoming mainstream.

    I know I sound like chicken little running around screaming “the sky is falling”. But as any student of history can tell you, as improbable as it often seems before it happens, sometimes the sky does fall.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/09/2016 - 12:04 pm.

    I think it called: “rhetoric”

    I hate to say it but all these dire warnings that a Trump presidency will mean the introduction of Fascism and the end of democracy in the United States are equally hysterical. Sure, Trump will be a lousy president be won’t kill our country anymore than Clinton could. I’m not sure very many people will be convinced by such proclamations, they’re obviously without merit.

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 06/09/2016 - 12:48 pm.

      Sorry. But some of us have noticed, with alarm, that Trump doesn’t seem to acknowledge the separation of powers (or even the appropriate functions of our three-part governmental structure), he advocates separating off certain ethnic or religious populations into the equivalent of guarded ghettos, he advocates torture and killing of families of those who might harm the country (in his view), he denies the validity of scientific studies and thus denies the reality of climate change being caused by our human actions, etc. He could do lots of damage, to America and the world.

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 06/09/2016 - 02:30 pm.


        And if we claim that democracy will save us from these terrifying and very anti-American scenarios, please explain the Japanese American concentration camps in this country within living memory. Please explain waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation” techniques used by individuals acting on the US’s authority within living memory. The right political climate has, and can again, hell, will CONTINUE, to result in evil actions on massive scales.

        While I doubt that either Trump or Clinton will result in America “dying” (not Mr. Black’s words, but a quote of Mr. Trump’s words), there is certainly a possibility of corrupting the American, and human, standards we should hold dear. What’s frightening is that when Trump suggests torture and corralling of certain “undesirable” populations, there are millions who cheer. To me, yeah, the existence of the witch-burning mob mentality whipped up by Trump in such high numbers might actually be a sign of the soul of America dying, if not the country as a whole.

      • Submitted by Jim Halonen on 06/09/2016 - 04:58 pm.

        It’s all politics

        Trump doesn’t acknowledge the separation of powers? How about our current president with his flurry of “executive orders”? I think most people would have to admit that if we agree with the order, than go ahead and issue them.

        • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 06/10/2016 - 10:22 am.

          Executive orders

          Are a perfectly legitimate action. Where separation of power comes in is where the Courts and/or Congress have the power to override them by either determining that they are improper (Courts) or by legislating them away (Congress). If they do not, the system still works (even if it’s due to dysfunction). So, I don’t think that the example of executive orders (an action taken by presidents before the current one, and in some cases more frequently than the current president), is an example of unconstitutional action. You’ll note that, while the other branches have the power to nullify an executive order, they rarely do.

          What’s concerning with Trump is that he is a complete narcissist and bully. While it’s unlikely that either the Courts or Congress would abide an executive order that suspends the ability of either to function, it’s fully within the realm of imagination that Trump would happily make them if he believes it would “make America great again”. And, while either body might ignore such an edict, imagine the political and social upheaval that would come about in trying to decide how to deal with it.

          • Submitted by Jim Million on 06/10/2016 - 01:08 pm.

            The Trump Quandary:

            Do his fans maybe see “bully” more as openly forceful as opposed to forcefully manipulative? I’m really not sure, but perhaps they do. Something about him certainly attracts many who yearn for a “plain talker,” same for Bernie to some extent. I’m sure Sanders would agree that sometimes we do need to “bully” others into doing something. But, then, I don’t like the term outside a playground, so help me find a better characterization: “volcanic”? “unstable”? — “seismically fractious,” I like.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/10/2016 - 09:13 am.

      Rachael and Constance

      The Nation (and most Japanese Americans) survived WWII and went on to expand civil rights and economic opportunity. Trump may or many not “believe” in separation of powers but the fact is he’ll not be the first president to suffer from this delusion. Nixon was the one who said: “If the president does it, it’s not illegal”… that was almost 50 years ago. Reagan’s team drew up plans to suspend the Constitution, and most of Bush and Chenney’s crimes ended with Obama and a series of supreme court rulings.

      The United States has been at this for over 200 years and the fact is we have an incredibly durable Constitution that simply prevents any single president from claiming absolute power. Trump is already facing massive demonstrations, congressional push-back, and Judicial warnings. The United States today as a nation, a population, and a democracy simply bears no resemblance whatsoever to something like Germany, Japan, or Italy, in the 1930s. We’ve had several bad presidents who’ve done a lot of harm and while that’s a undoubtedly a bad thing to be avoided if possible, it’s not the end of nation. (barring nuclear war).

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/10/2016 - 06:02 am.

    Trump doesn’t acknowledge the separation of powers? How about our current president with his flurry of “executive orders”?

    In a checks and balances system of government, use of executive orders, and the increase of activism in courts, are what balances out the failure of a branch of government. The dysfunction of Congress, it’s inability to perform the most basic tasks assigned to it by the constitution mean the other two branches will step in and fill the vacuum of governance it creates. We see that in the executive orders, and when the Supreme Court makes health care policy.

  15. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/11/2016 - 09:44 am.

    The United States has been at this for over 200 years and the fact is we have an incredibly durable Constitution that simply prevents any single president from claiming absolute power.

    In practical terms, I think this country died once before, in 1861. When the Civil War ended we became a different country, enabled by the enactment of three constitutional amendments which fundamentally altered the nature of our republic.

    We are often told we shouldn’t take freedom for granted. The irony of that statement is that in fact we do, and we really, really shouldn’t.

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 06/11/2016 - 10:33 am.

      I would ask Hiram Foster just to listen to Donald Trump.

      Trump doesn’t distinguish between judges who rule on legal precedents and constitutionality, and Congress (and state legislatures) that make laws. He has said that judges “enact law[s].” No, they don’t.

      No judge, no Supreme Court, enacted or “made” Obamacare; Congress did. All the Supremes did was say that the mandate to buy health insurance (required by the private insurance companies who devised the Obamacare scheme to avoid single-payer public healthcare) was constitutional. That’s what they get paid to look into.

      Just listen to him, please! Imagine that Trump’s in the White House, saying what he’s saying, and shiver, like most of us, at that prospect.

      All the United States has to do to fall is to believe that 200-plus years of existence means our country can never slip into something much different from the democratic republic we have had. Trump is showing us how easy that fall can be. Let’s avoid it by not voting for this authoritarian demagogue who behaves as if he would govern all alone.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/12/2016 - 04:49 pm.

      Change is not death… a liberal should know that!

      Our nation didn’t die in 1861, the Civil War preserved the nation, it didn’t destroy it. Sure the country changes, that’s what it’s supposed do, it was designed to roll with the blows and march on towards a more perfect union, that’s the genius of liberal democracy, it thrives on change rather than disintegrates.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 06/13/2016 - 06:15 am.

        Rather strange

        That assumes the Union would have been made “more perfect” by a victory by the slave holders as well right? Simply citing history does not prove that all change is beneficial, nor that our country is in any way unique within the long history of civilization on this planet, thats just nationalistic bluster masking hubris. Had the South won, we would have no contiguous Union, if it was shown that a region could simply secede to further its own ends, others would have done the same. We are still a young nation in the grand scheme of things, assuming that things will just continue along some predestined path to glory simply because we are who we are smacks of the same “execeptionalism” that infects so many on the right.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/13/2016 - 08:43 am.


          “That assumes the Union would have been made “more perfect” by a victory by the slave holders as well right? Simply citing history does not prove that all change is beneficial,”

          History is what actually happens, not what could have happened. And at any rate if you’ll recall the Civil War was about Southern secession, not about destroying the United State. The outcome of a Confederate victory would have been two separate countries, not a new country wherein slavery was universally enforced. The United States of America, although smaller, would have still existed, and would have been free of slavery.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/13/2016 - 08:54 am.

          Nobody said all change is benificial

          I simply said change is not death, and the Civil War didn’t kill the United States. Anyone who understands history can point to catastrophes. I don’t know anyone who assumes that all change is beneficial and I certainly don’t assume it. We fight for positive change, not simply change for the sake of change.

  16. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/12/2016 - 06:03 am.

    “Trump doesn’t distinguish between judges who rule on legal precedents and constitutionality, and Congress (and state legislatures) that make laws. He has said that judges “enact law[s].” No, they don’t.”

    My problem here is more immediate. We have a senate charged under the constitution with advising and consenting to the judicial nomination process which is now acting in a purely political manner. The last pretense that we are governed by the rule of law as opposed to the rule of politics has been abandoned. But that’s another story.

    “No judge, no Supreme Court, enacted or “made” Obamacare; Congress did.”

    But they certainly and substantially modified it. I for one, think the notion that the framers of the constitution, living in an era where the barbers doubled as brain surgeons, and leeches were the go to remedy for better doctors everywhere, were setting modern health care policy is absurd. But others differ.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/12/2016 - 10:42 am.

    This is why Clinton makes me so nervous

    I’m not sure anyone here is campaigning for Trump yet Clinton supporters have already devolved to the weakest possible campaign on Clinton’s behalf… if you don’t vote for her Trump will win.

    You can’t gloss over Clinton’s weaknesses by pointing to Trump and mongering fear, that’s simply not how American voters decide who to vote for. We’ve been trying to warn democrats for months now and they simply won’t listen. Clinton democrats simply want to see Hillary be Hillary in the White House and just don’t understand the fact that the majority of their fellow Americans simply do not share that dream. So now there’s going to be a real possibility that Trump will get elected.

  18. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/12/2016 - 12:15 pm.


    It’s enough for Republicans to be against stuff, but Democrats are really at their best when they are for stuff. And tapping into issues and drawing power from them has never exactly been Hillary’s strength. At a time when people are crying out for substantive change, she wants to campaign on her resume. That’s how she got caught flat footed by Bernie’s campaign. For all Bernie’s flaws, he is not a guy who has to go around the country on a listening tour to figure out what he thinks or what he should say.

    Hillary wants to run on pragmatism. While pragmatism may be a worthy quality to have, it’s a lousy quality to run on, because it always raises the issue, will I pay the price for her pragmatism? Will it be my interests Hillary bargains away to ensure a result that will get her reelected? Trustworthy wise, can I really trust a candidate who assures us that while she may agree with my ideals, that she won’t necessarily back them up when the going gets tough? Especially knowing that when the tough is going, it won’t be me in the room with the charts and easels, and the slick lobbyist, willing to write a big check, not right away, but just down the road when the dust is settled, and there is no possibility of proving in a court of law that a quid has been exchanged for a quo.

Leave a Reply