As baseball manager Casey Stengel is reputed to have asked, "Can't anybody here play this game?"

The current presidential race is replete with mistakes on all sides. As a result, the voting public consists primarily of folks figuring out which candidate is the worse, so that they can vote for the other front-runner. But it is not only the main candidates who blunder.


The FBI conducted a shoddy study of Hillary Clinton's private email server, declared her unprosecutable, and followed up by releasing information using a drip, drip methodology so that the issue is always on the news. The pro-Republican bent of many in that agency is perhaps showing.

Hillary Clinton admits her mistake but always tries to argue the case for her innocence again. So any question-and-answer routine with the press starts with her emails. She should just develop a short answer and cease arguing her case.

She said Colin Powell advised her on using such a server and Colin Powell angrily denies it. But then an email is found where he advised her on the benefits of using such a server.

The Clinton Foundation collects millions of dollars and does tremendous good work around the world. A few of the donors sought and got contacts with Secretary Clinton. There are no cases of favors being granted as a result of these contacts. But the Clintons agree to cease having an active role in the foundation after Hillary Clinton is elected. The press suggests that the Clinton family cut the foundation loose now. Without the charm of Bill Clinton, donations will dry up and the good works will be cut back.

Ten first ladies, from Dolley Madison to Michelle Obama, have had significant charitable activities. What would it hurt if first gentleman Bill Clinton carried on that tradition?

Trump's charity is another manner. It made a $125,000 donation to a political war chest for the attorney general of Florida. Soon after that she decided not to join the case against Trump University. His charity was not a legal source for a political contribution. So another source was found and a fine was paid.

Was this "pay for play?" Well Trump himself has boasted: "As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do ..." Trump told The Wall Street Journal in July 2015. "As a businessman, I need that."

Donald Trump makes a disqualifying statement almost daily.

At the forum held on Sept. 8 he made an astonishing suggestion that we should have left forces behind in Iraq just to seize the product of Iraqi oil fields. A version of this plan is most likely how we got in the mess in Iraq in the first place. Many suggest that then Vice President Dick Cheney hoped to enrich his former firm Halliburton from a deal involving Iraqi oil. In any case, seizing Iraqi oil would be grand theft that would brand us as pirates around the world.

Trump says we are losing the land war against ISIS. The nightly news tells another story. ISIS is fighting multiple opponents on the ground in Syria including Turks, Kurds, Syrian government forces, Syrian rebels as well as Iraqi forces in Iraq. ISIS has no air power to speak of. They are subject to air attacks from our own air power and those of Russia, Jordan and Egypt.

City by city and town by town their presence in Syria and Iraq is diminished.

Our main problem is that some of the anti-ISIS forces in Syria are also fighting each other. But most of the strategies proposed by Trump are already being used successfully by the Obama administration.

Another Trump gaffe is his plan to immediately deport illegal immigrants who have committed other crimes since entering U.S. soil. If he would immediately deport those criminals who were in jail then he would be doing them a huge favor. Freedom in the land of their birth would be a vast improvement compared to jail in the USA. Other immigrants who have committed crimes in the past will be difficult to find.

The campaign drones on, but the results are the same. Clinton is a flawed but competent candidate. Trump is an impossible choice. Who says so? More and more prominent Republicans say so.


John Culleton writes from Eldersburg. His column appears every second Tuesday. Email him at