Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is the runaway pick among voters when asked who among the presidential candidates is the most credible, honest and trustworthy, and even the most compassionate. Her rank on the voter trustworthy meter is far higher than that of Barack Obama and easily tops that of all other GOP presidential contenders. The problem with this is the AP-Ipsos poll that gave Hillary high marks on trustworthiness was taken in March, 2007.
The two big questions are: What happened in the eight years since that that poll was taken and today to change voter's attitudes on the trust issue toward Clinton? The other even bigger one is: Does this pose a real problem for Clinton's campaign?
The trust issue and Hillary has been the sole fixation of the pollsters and they seem to crank out a new poll monthly hitting that theme. If one believes the barrage of polls, one comes away with the notion that voters, especially Democrats, simply don't trust Hillary.
Playing up Clinton's supposed free fall in integrity has been the one constant in the run-up to the 2016 presidential campaign. The Republican National Committee early on put Hillary dead in its hit sights to do everything possible to render her candidacy stillborn even before it officially became a candidacy. It not so subtly recycled the old trumped up scandals of the past from Whitewater to the Lewinsky scandal. It then cranked out a sneering "poor Hillary" video that touted Hillary's quip that she and Bill were "dead broke" when they left the White House. It then intimated that she shook down poor cash strapped universities for her alleged outrageous speaking fees.
There was little doubt that the first chance the GOP got it would seize on a real or manufactured Obama foreign policy flub and make Clinton their hard target. The Benghazi debacle seemed to be just the right flub. In August 2013, the Republican National Committee rammed the attack home with a half-minute clip of her Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony earlier that year on the Benghazi attack.
The aim as always was to embarrass and discredit her not because of her alleged missteps as Secretary of State, but as a 2016 presidential candidate. Republicans got what they wanted when their phony accusations against her of cover-up and incompetence got tons of media chatter and focus and raised the first shadow of public doubt. The GOP then tirelessly searched for something else that could ramp up more public doubt about Clinton's honesty. It didn't take long to find.
This time it got two for the price of one. Congressional Republicans jubilantly waved a fresh batch of Clinton emails to the media, claiming that it proved that she deliberately mislead Congressional investigators, and the public, on what she knew and how she handled or allegedly mishandled the Benghazi debacle. This ties in with the GOP's and the media's incessant flailing of Clinton for supposedly hiding, deleting or misusing her private emails for some sinister and nefarious reason during her stint as Secretary of State. There will be more to come on this rest assured.
Meanwhile, the GOP mockingly ridicules Clinton's attempt to reimage her campaign and herself as a hands, on in the trenches with the people, caring, feeling candidate as just more of the Clinton con, and an ineffectual one to boot. The supposed proof of that is to finger point her plunging favorability numbers in the polls. Of course, what's conveniently omitted from the Hillary smear is that every one of her GOP rivals is doing an even lousier job trying to convince voters that they are any more "trustworthy" than Clinton. In the case of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and especially Jeb Bush, their integrity meter score with the public fall somewhere between Watergate Richard Nixon and that of a used car salesman.
There's more. A USA Poll and an ABC-Washington Post poll found that not only does Clinton have solid numbers in terms of approval with voters, but bags big time general favorability numbers from Democrats. This is even more impressive given the spirited, and populist issues run that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is making at Hillary.
It's certainly true that voters do want a president that they can trust to say and do the right thing both on the issues and in their dealing with the public. But they also want a president who is experienced, well-versed, thoughtful, and firm on dealing with the inevitable crises that will confront the country, here and abroad. There's absolutely no hint in the polls or anywhere else that the general public has shut down on Clinton in this vital area of public policy. But this won't stop the GOP and those in the media obsessed with depicting Hillary as two-faced from peddling that line.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.