Hillary in a pickle
Hillary Clinton is a shoo-in for her party’s presidential nomination because of Barack Obama’s failures. But those failures might keep her from getting the job. Her husband’s “law of politics” is that elections are always about the future, but she’s stuck in the past.
In 2008, Obama pandered to liberal hopes while Mrs. Clinton appealed to their good sense. He explained that “cynicism” was his real opponent and used her as a stand-in for it. She played her part, insisting politics was toil, not performance art. And, as we have learned from a president who so often thinks giving a speech is a substitute for solving a problem, she had the better argument. Democrats’ reaction to Obama’s handling of the VA scandal shows even they would trade some inspirational claptrap for a bit more old-fashioned competence.
That attitude helps Clinton immensely. Burned by disappointment, many liberals want to vote with their heads, not their hearts. Ready to exploit that sentiment is the vast network of loyalists, retreads, activists, pols, hacks, fans (in and out of the press), Friends of Bill and, of course, Friends of Hillary. The Hillary Industrial Complex must be an awesomely hard thing to say no to. It is counting on her, not just for jobs and access but for vindication — “We were right to back Hillary from the beginning!”
Americans almost never reward a party with a third consecutive term in the White House. Want to wager on how much of a “more of the same” mood America will be in come 2016?
Clinton’s clearly not taking any chances. Recently, in her first campaign-style speech on the economy, at the New America Foundation, she mentioned Obama exactly once and her husband a half-dozen times, and she talked at great length about how we need to return to the policies of the 1990s. Not only was there precious little talk of Obama, she listed none of her major accomplishments as secretary of State, probably because she had none. Meanwhile, the most famous thing she did in that job was nothing — on the night of the Benghazi attack.
You can understand why Clinton might want to pretend the Obama years never happened. I certainly get why she wants to run on her husband’s record rather than her own. But I can’t see how this adds up to a compelling message outside the Hillary Industrial Complex.
Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and editor-at-large of National Review Online.