Hillary Clinton may have sealed her fate last week. Revealing the depth of her desperation on Iraq and her innate distrust of the free markets she seems only to have picked up the baggage, but no useful political lessons, from her husband's administration.
Back when Barack Obama was an unknown legislator Hillary cast her vote in favor of authorization for President Bush to use force in Iraq. For a time she seemed to follow the advice of "third way" Democrats that to be credible on the national stage Democrats need to be stalwart on national defense. She resisted pleas to renounce her war vote and refused to call for a timetable for withdrawal.
Then came Obama, not to mention John Edwards and the Democratic Congressional majority. Perhaps spooked by polls showing remarkably high "unfavorable" ratings or by the one ups-manship of dueling anti-war rhetoric of her opponents, she quite frankly lost her nerve.
Unlike her colleague Joe Biden, who refused the entreaties of the Left, she and 13 of her colleagues voted against funding for the troops. Carl Levin, who seems to have stolen her "responsibility gene," voted for the measure and declared: "I don't want to send a message that we are not going to provide funding for the troops." Not Hillary. Should she survive the primaries she will now be in precisely the same position as John Kerry: she was for the War before she was against it and against withdrawal deadlines before she was for them. How quickly they forget.
Meanwhile, she is back to her old anti-capitalist tricks. The gal who declared contemptuously that small businesses should just grin and bear Hillarycare health costs ("I can't be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America") was at it again. The Wall Street Journal reported that in a speech on reducing health care costs she declared that "insurers be required to sell coverage to anyone who wants it and said companies should be barred from charging sicker people higher premiums." The mind reels. Should insurers also be prohibited from charging bad drivers more for car insurance? Will there be Nixonian wage and price controls for insurance companies?
Apparently she also doesn't like new drugs, nor the cost associated with bringing new drugs to the market, declaring: "A lot of these so-called blockbuster drugs are no more effective and sometimes less effective in treating conditions than the old standbys." Presumably Dr. Clinton will instruct the drug companies and doctors around the country which drug trials to pursue.
Then we were greeted with previews of the new Clinton biographies. Like a bad dream, memories of Gennifer Flowers, Rose law firm documents, cattle futures and travel office firings came flooding back. Some sniffed that there was nothing "new" in these books. Perhaps, but that misses the point. It is precisely because voters may not want reruns of this version of Desperate Housewives that the books matter. We have all moved on and learned our lesson that there is a price to be paid for electing craven people to high office. Once again a beaming, unbesmirched Obama, with lovely and devoted professional spouse, stands at the ready offering to change the political channel permanently.
In the Democratic debate this week her opponents are unlikely to seize upon these flaws as they battle for the title of anti-war and anti-capitalist champion. Nevertheless, Republican candidates are watching and consultants are making notes for future ads. In due course, they will be all too happy to remind voters of the week Hillary dropped her mask and revealed what a Clinton II administration might really be like.
Jennifer Rubin is a writer in Virginia.
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