It is so interesting to watch the Donald Trump campaign try to flip the script and play the victim.

The man who once said all illegal immigrants are drug dealers and rapists, who built his campaign on the idea that he would build a wall to keep these horrible people out of our country, and who has pledged to ban immigrants based on a religious litmus test is now shocked and dismayed because Hillary Clinton said half of his supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.”

I don’t know that it is a good defense to argue that it isn’t exactly half of his supporters. Maybe it would help if his official surrogates and half of his sons hadn’t posted Alt Right icon Pepe the Frog memes on Twitter this weekend. Maybe it would help if the candidate himself didn’t call a sitting Senator “Pocahontas” Monday morning on cable television. That’s pretty deplorable.

Clinton was wrong to say that half of Trump’s supporters belong in that basket. Most just hate her because she is a Democrat — or at least slightly more of a Democrat than Trump.

But no candidate in since Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves has been as welcoming to racists, sexists and white supremacists as Trump has this year. He has single-thumbedly brought the Alt Right out of their shadowy existence and into the spotlight with his infamous Twitter feed.

But despite his hate for Mexicans and Muslims and love of all things Russian, Trump is still close in every poll and leading in some.

The reason: He is running against one of the most flawed candidates in the history of American politics.

Clinton has a great resume beyond her daunting name recognition as the wife of a former President. No other candidate for President since Franklin Roosevelt has ever lived in the White House for eight years before the campaign began.

She is an attorney with a law degree from Yale who became the first female partner at Little Rock’s Rose Law Firm. She was first lady of Arkansas and the United States, was twice elected as a Senator from New York and was Secretary of State under Barack Obama.

However, her problems with accurate recollection of details make some people think she is lying to them — a lot. Benghazi events, the handling of emails and private servers when Secretary of State, and now her health have all become points in the case against her truthfulness.

Last week, Clinton said her public persona isn’t as bright and cheery as she is in private because she has spent the better part of four decades being attacked in the media for justifiable and unjustifiable reasons. Her problems this weekend would be blamed on similar issues. Trump has already been saying on the campaign trail that Clinton doesn’t have the health or stamina to be President.

I’m sure that is exactly the reason that Clinton didn’t reveal that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. Then on Sunday when the heat and stress of the Sept. 11 memorial ceremony was too much to handle with pneumonia and she swooned after leaving the ceremony early.

She probably didn’t have enough fluids before the event, she was hot and already not feeling well. The confluence of factors caused her to faint or at least feel faint as she tried to get in her vehicle.

Most people understand that if something is being hidden, there is usually a good reason to hide it. Because of that, Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis raises legitimate questions.

If you don’t announce a “routine diagnosis” because Trump has made your health and stamina a campaign issue, then you have to face the music when your health fails at a public event like that.

Yes, sexism plays a major part in why Trump was bringing up her “stamina” and saying she “doesn’t look presidential.”

You can argue that Trump isn’t a sexist, but he does know that there is a “basket of deplorables” that includes sexists and he is more than willing to play to them as a portion of his supporters.
It isn’t half of Trump’s 40ish percent of the American voting population. But those supporters are numerous and he is willing to reach out to them in his no holds barred style.

This campaign has been bad for a long time and every time it changes, it is for the worse. Pundits say Barack Obama has won two terms in the White House because he didn’t run against great candidates. What will pundits say after one of these two stencils their name on the mailbox at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at kent.bush@news-star.com.