Sometimes, you don’t need to excel.
It’s not about how well you stand out from the crowd or rise above the competition — because the competition, such as it is, is already vanquished.
You’re the pitcher brought in during the ninth inning with an eight-run lead, and you just have to get the last out. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pop-up, an easy grounder or a strike out; all you have to do is make sure they can’t come back. Your only job, then, is not to screw this up.
Your job is not to blow it.
After months of bad press and worse decisions from her rival, Republican nominee Donald Trump, that is where Hillary Clinton stands. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released over the weekend showed Clinton gaining an 11-point lead nationally over Trump, bolstered in the aftermath of a crude 2005 audiotape in which Trump boasts of using his power and influence to sexually assault women — a bridge too far even for some fellow Republicans, who have begun to defect from their nominee in hopes of salvaging their congressional majorities.
Trump had hoped to stem the defections with a successful debate performance on Oct. 9. But the town hall-style debate played to Clinton’s strengths, who moved effortlessly around the stage and did not react to Trump’s hulking presence as he appeared to encroach into his rival’s personal space — a move many saw as an effort to intimidate the comparatively diminutive Clinton. Trump also made outrageous promises, including a vow that he would jail Clinton were he president — a reaction more typical in third-world countries than in a first-world Western democracy.
For virtually any other Republican nominee, the race should’ve been at least close. Clinton’s favorability ratings are fairly low, and the future of the Supreme Court is on the line. Plus, the Democratic nominee is tied closely to the incumbent administration, providing plenty of room to expound on perceived shortcomings within the present administration. These tactics can shore up the base and possibly swing some undecided voters to your camp.
But Trump isn’t interested in picking those fights. He’d rather tilt at windmills like the former Miss Universe pageant winner that he went after on Twitter in the small hours of the morning.
So for Clinton, the goal is to keep quiet and let the show play out. In the New York Times Magazine, Brian Fallon, the national campaign spokesperson for Clinton, said that he regretted that the negative stories involving Trump seemed to all come so quickly, wishing that voters could really explore and understand each one before the next negative story dropped. Instead, voters are subjected to one crazy after another, day after day.
And Clinton has gone from the groundbreaking candidate she set out to be as the first female nominee of a major party to, as she told the Times, “the last thing standing between you and the apocalypse.”