In a presidential election filled with unprecedented shit, there's one novel aspect flying under the radar: we've known these two people for a long time.
Think about it: 20 years ago, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would likely be recognized by a vast majority of Americans. Sure,
not by everybody, but far more than most presidential candidates 20 years before their election run.
How many times has that happened?
Ronald Reagan was a movie star (and Democrat) twenty years before his run. Quincy Adams, FDR, and Bush had family in the president business. Grant and Eisenhower had war-time name recognition. Grover Cleveland had relevant job experience (he'd been president once before).
But 20 years before Barack Obama took the oath, he was a student at Harvard Law. Ditto for Teddy Roosevelt (at 42, our youngest prez). Slick Willy (Bill Clinton) was at Yale, Jimmy Carter was on a submarine, and Honest Abe was in a courtroom in Springfield, Illinois.
In most cases, when the candidates aren't incumbents or VPs, there's a process of familiarization they have to go through. They're in Congress or state government, they're known in their state, they're known in their party, but they're nobodies on the national scale.
And that's a plus. When you're (relatively) unknown, you get to write your own bio. You get a head-start on the media telling your story. You're relegated to a few bullet points and key stances; you're a blank slate. Previously unknown candidates can re-write their identity, stress the parts of their history that work and shush the parts that don’t.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don't have that advantage.
Surely the proliferation of mass media since (and before) 1996 plays a role in our familiarity with Clinton and Trump, but that doesn't change the fact that we've never really known our two candidates this well before. We've never had this much on record before. We've never had so much information to go through, hence the weird weightlessness that seems to apply when either candidate has some bygone quote or stance brought up.
Trump said he'd run as a Republican because Republican voters are stupid?
Clinton said she hates women who bake cookies?
Meh, there's always more where that came from, and it'll probably contradict what we've heard.
So since Pittsburgh City Paper
is the paper of record — well, our record anyway — we thought it’d be interesting to see how these two have fared in our pages over the years. After some tireless research (Googling their names), this is what I've found.
It's a partial list; our online archives tap out around 2003, and a lot of the results were just passing mentions. But these mentions underline just how long Clinton has seemed destined for this nomination and just how unlikely Trump's ascent to the seat has been.
June 12, 2003: Chris Potter on the Patriot Act
"As [Timothy] Edgar put it, 'The four most frightening words to some of those red-blooded conservatives in Washington are 'Attorney General Hillary Clinton.'"
January 17, 2008: Savage Love
July 31, 2003: W's speech at National Urban League
"The vast majority of the protesters were focused on Bush's return-to-Reagan economic policy and on the war in Iraq. Jasmine Burton, 23, a CCAC student from Duquesne, hadn't planned to protest that morning, but 'I saw all the anti-Bush signs and wanted to come stand with y'all. I didn't vote for Bush and I don't know anyone who did. I'm gonna work hard this election.' But who for? She didn't have much enthusiasm for most of the Democratic hopefuls: 'I wish Hillary Clinton would run.'"
"Why conservatives are so offended by Hillary's notion that parents can get help from teachers and neighbors and all sorts of folk to raise their kids is beyond me."
Parenting? Such a simpler time ...
July 28, 2005: Gambling in Pa.
"'The casino owners aren't used to people telling them what to do because no one has ever tried it before,' he says. 'If you get tough, then Donald Trump and Steve Wynn aren't coming to Pennsylvania,' he concludes, referring to the most famous Atlantic City and Las Vegas casino owners. 'Because the last thing they want is you knowing what they're up to.'"
October 20, 2005: Review of Good Night and Good Luck
"As for accepting innuendo as fact: I trust Clooney will agree that this holds as true for Karl Rove as it does for Hillary Clinton, despite how much we'd like to castigate an administration that labels people 'anti-American' for opposing its war."
November 10, 2005: On Roethlisberger impersonator Brian Jackson
"This may be the era of Hillary Clinton, Maureen Dowd and Oprah. Unfortunately, it is also the era of Paris Hilton, Wife Swap, The Bachelor and The Swan."
And what an era it was.
: This article also includes the phrase "he wasn't merely trying to get his joint worked."
"Joint" is an old-timey word for penis, fyi.
March 23, 2006: Anti-War Sentiment Grows
"For the Joe Bidens and Hillary Clintons to be accommodationists at this point, they should hang their heads in shame. If they think the advantage for running for president is to be Bush Light — that's not the way to be."
February 10, 2008: The Primaries
"Then again, most Dems I know will be happier voting for Obama OR Clinton
than they were voting for white male John Kerry in 2004. And I expect at least one difference between 2007 and 2008: I doubt any Pittsburgh Democrats will be threatening to support the Republican in this year's general election."
February 21, 2008: More Primaries
"In important ways, the Hillarycare episode epitomizes the Clinton style. The plan was dense, extraordinarily complex, and tuned to a collaborative, evolutionary arrangement between the largest established forces."
Hillarycare really rolls off the tongue, huh? That's why we're still talking about it today.
In response to a question about the subject’s father paying a younger woman for
“It may not be legal, of course, but it's the only way a man who isn't rich and famous — like Donald Trump or Fred Thompson — can land a 29-year-old."
December 26, 2012: Trump's charm
March 6, 2009: Al Hoff on Celebrity Apprentice
"If we can't see Bernie Madoff or the head of GM hawk crap on the streets, can't we at least have some clapped-out celebrities be their proxies? And for their boss: Who better than last century's hero, the unrepentant king of garish nouveau riche, Donald Trump?"
April 6, 2009: More Celebrity Apprentice, Trump fires T-Boz
"'Tionne, I love your voice ...' — really? The Donald is down with TLC? — '... but you're fired.' Color Miz T stunned, and who can blame her? Her offense: being a team player. Pretty obvious here that that's a role Trump has never experienced."
March 4, 2010: Ted Hoover's stage review of Time After Time
"Where's Hillary Clinton when you need her? I'm just back from Time After Time at Point Park Conservatory Theatre, and the show is so conflicted and obstructed — so at war with itself — that only a seasoned diplomat could untangle it."
"The book's nearly 800 pages make numerous startling disclosures: that the FBI tried to trick the Secret Service into passing misinformation to Clinton; that prosecutors drafted an indictment of Hillary Clinton
before pursuing the Lewinsky scandal instead ..."
August 18, 2011: Op-ed on Republican field by Chris Potter
"The market in GOP frontrunners is already plenty volatile, of course. For awhile Palin was the frontrunner. Then it was Donald Trump. Mitt Romney seemed the default choice until Iowa's recent straw caucus. Bachmann now seems on top, though Perry may topple her. After that, who knows? Paul Ryan? Allen West?"
"Sheena Monnin, a Cranberry Township resident and former Miss Pennsylvania is ordered to pay $5 million to billionaire Donald Trump for saying the Miss Universe pageant — owned by Trump — was 'fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent, and in many ways trashy' on her Facebook page. Isn't that part of Trump's charm?"
June 15, 2015: Trump announces
"After much flirting, real-estate mogul, reality-TV star and all-around bloviator Donald Trump made it official: He's running for president. Snarky columnists are crying with joy; the Republican party may just be crying."
Now you're all caught up!