Political Hay

A Spear Trap for 2016

Hillary Clinton incapacitates her own party.

By 6.16.14

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It was supposed to be a week in which former First Lady, New York Senator and Secretary of State and erstwhile media darling Hillary Clinton stepped out from five years of peripatetic Obama minioning and mysterious post-concussion convalescence to take her rightful place as the center of political attention. Clinton’s memoir Hard Choices, a title only coincidentally shared with a 1987 porn film, eponymous with a snoozer of a memoir by failed Carter administration secretary of state Cyrus Vance (now selling at only $0.01 on Amazon!) and surely only coincidentally similar (despite an obviously plagiarized cover design) to failed Republican California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina’s 2010 auto-bio Tough Choices, was supposed to set a predicate for the 2016 presidential run everyone knows Clinton desires to embark upon.

But after a week of media appearances, it isn’t quite so clear that the country is “Ready For Hillary,” or what it is she’s ready for. Clinton opened her media blitz by making the insultingly insincere claim of poverty as a just-removed occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with an $8 million book advance in tow and a husband with $13 millions in speaker-fee bookings.

“You have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton said during an interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education. It was not easy. Bill has worked really hard. And it’s been amazing to me. He’s worked very hard.” (Emphasis mine, due to the plural nature of the reference.)

That was Monday. By Wednesday, Clinton was walking back the statement after being publicly ridiculed in person for it by no less than Chicago mayor and veteran Clinton stooge Rahm Emanuel. “Really?” he asked her during a Windy City forum appearance. In her response, she scurried to appear thankful for her advantages in life — most notably her public education in the now-ruinous Chitown schools . At the same event, Clinton mistakenly referred to Abraham Lincoln as a “senator from Illinois,” which he never was.

Clinton’s responses to questions about her role in the Benghazi debacle — friendly questions at that; for example, she has yet to be asked why she pushed the responsibility of a little-known YouTube video lampooning Muslim history to the families of the slain for what was clearly a military attack on an American diplomatic installation — hardly gives reason for confidence. It’s hard to imagine she’ll be able to convince the public Benghazi was “minor league ball” and thus escape scrutiny over her role in the affair. And her inability, if not refusal, to distance herself from the Obama administration’s several scandals doesn’t disturb the inevitable charges that Hillary 2016 is nothing more than a third term of Obama.

Things devolved to such an extent that by the end of the week Clinton was verbally brawling with friendly National Public Radio reporter Terry Gross over the genesis of her support of gay marriage. If there is an easier question for Hillary Clinton than one from a venue like NPR about when she decided to come out for gay marriage it’s tough to conceive of it, but she was nevertheless reduced to accusations and repudiations — and nervous Democrat onlookers in the bi-coastal media.

As a presumptive presidential campaign launch, this was a clown show.

And it brings to mind an analogy of Clinton as a presidential candidate, one which not-infrequently appears in conservative-friendly movies like First Blood and Apocalypto.

Namely, that Clinton is a spring spear trap for the Democrats to contend with, and they’re quite likely to be impaled by her in 2016.

Understand that despite what you might see in film, the spear trap (or its cousin the Punji stick) is a jungle warfare device which, while potentially lethal, is most often intended to immobilize and incapacitate its victim, thus slowing the advance of an enemy through contested territory. Hillary’s lack of charisma, thorough improbity, and grating sense of entitlement have the same effect on her potential candidacy (and Democrat prospects for electoral victory) as spring-loaded and camouflaged wooden spikes.

We saw this in 2008. The Inevitable Hillary presented such an unappealing candidate that her party, which by all accounts had felt it owed her the nomination in the early going, was quickly romanced by a vapid and unaccomplished first-term U.S. Senator with zero executive experience and a closet full of skeletons. It thus took no time for Barack Obama to snatch the initiative from her; Clinton barely bothered to mount a campaign in caucus states, built a badly-organized and hideously overpriced campaign team, and showed herself to be gaffe-tastic on the stump. By March, when she and her husband had been tarred by the Obama camp as racist, it was clear Hillary’s platoon had been skewered — and would ultimately bleed to death.

This should have put the Democrats on their guard for 2016, and the party should have spent the Obama years developing a deep bench of potential candidates — in light of the fact that only once since the passage of the 22th Amendment limiting a president to two terms in office has a party held the White House for more than eight years. That victory belonged to the Republicans; George H.W. Bush was elected in 1988 amid joyful national circumstances: a strong economy, the impending collapse of the Soviet Union, and a general era of good feelings emanating from the Reagan presidency. No such happy times exist now; for the Dems the 2016 race will be run through a jungle.

As such, the Democrats are counting on candidate who, having been gouged six years ago by her own faults, looks a great deal today like the spear trap lying in wait for the party. A Hillary implosion such as this week’s bungles portends would make them easy prey for a viable Republican nominee to vanquish.

After all, what Democrat can raise money for a presidential run with Hillary in the way? Who can get air time to present himself (or herself) as a credible alternative? What sexist ingrate can come along, Obama-style, and deny her the right to be the first female major-party nominee atop a ticket? If not Hillary, who can lead them through the jungle? Andrew Cuomo? Elizabeth Warren? Joe Biden?

Clinton’s approval ratings, which have hemorrhaged 18 points in 18 months, should be a warning to her party. But no matter — the Democrats might as well be impaled on the Clinton 2016 spear. They’re utterly dependent on a woman whose new autobiography is a poorly-reviewed, discount-bin booby trap of a presidential launch.

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About the Author

Scott McKay is publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics.