Honestly, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign won’t go any further than — if it even gets as far as — her ill-fated 2008 attempt at returning to the White House. After all, Clinton isn’t a more attractive candidate now than she was then, and after two terms of a failed Democrat president one would think it would require a candidate with real political skill to keep a Democrat installed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Clinton, unlike her glib husband, has no such talent. Last week’s amateurish and clumsy “rollout” to her presidential bid showed she has no more aptitude for retail politics than she has for messaging. Want proof? This woman, who touched off guffaws nationwide by claiming she and Bill were “dead broke” upon leaving the White House (with silverware in tow) in 2001, decided to offer herself as a champion of the little people as the key theme of her campaign.
If ever there was an ill-fitting and ill-considered elevator pitch for a political candidate, it’s the narrative of Hillary Clinton as the defender of ordinary Americans. The sales job, which reportedly was the product of months of consideration from the Clinton campaign gurus, unraveled almost immediately. First there was the candidate’s incognito appearance at a Chipotle somewhere in Ohio, an event of such surreal banality as to titillate the cable news talkers for days. From there came reports that Hillary’s “impromptu” meetings with “regular folks” in Iowa coffee shops were in actuality staged conversations with party apparatchiks, not all of whom were even local.
And then came Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, a new book by conservative author Peter Schweizer, which documents a long series of large financial transactions conducted between the Clinton Foundation and supplicants seeking favors from the State Department while she was Secretary of State from 2009-2012. The book, whose author is currently being pilloried as a partisan hack by the usual parade of Clinton’s minions but the allegations in which are largely untouched as to their substance and veracity, more or less establishes a pattern of bribe-taking by the Clintons from foreign governments and connected players and marks her as perhaps the most personally corrupt plutocrat ever to seek the office of the presidency.
And what makes Clinton Cash so impactful — the howling about Schweizer looks hollow in the face of three major news organizations, including the New York Times and Washington Post, agreeing to join him in investigating the allegations made in the book — is that it comes on the heels of another scandal showing just how far from regular Americans she is. Hillary opting to use her own email server to conduct government business as Secretary of State and then destroying that server rather than provide the government with all the emails residing thereon stands in rather discordant harmony with the content of Schweizer’s book.
After all, if Congressional investigators seeking Hillary’s emails to discover what her actual role was in the Benghazi massacre — or even neutral third parties — were able to see the full body of those emails, the Clinton camp’s new contention that the emails would absolve her of any guilt emanating from the bribery allegations could gain some credibility. But since she destroyed the evidence no such exoneration is possible. When the accusation is made that Hillary failed to use the customary email system for a person holding the office she held so as to hide ill dealings from the public and conflate her perfidy at the Clinton Foundation with her day job at State, it’s going to stick.
It’s also going to put paid the idea that this woman, who makes quadruple in an hour of jangly and insipid speechifying what an average American household takes home in a year of real work, can pretend to be a champion of the common man.
It’s not possible to run someone this tainted for president and win, regardless of how much she might be able to collect from the Democrats’ donors. If it were, that would indicate the country was so far gone to the Democrats that anyone that party nominates could get elected. That’s a contention that isn’t supported by the current conditions, in which Republicans dominate state legislatures, governor’s mansions, and Congressional districts across the country.
But even if that were actually the case it’s an argument against sticking with Hillary. If the Democrats are in position to win presidential elections consistently barring a major foul-up, then the smart play is to run someone anodyne and safe rather than to test their current demographic advantage.
But who is that anodyne, generic Democrat for whom they can shelve the ethically challenged, marble-mouthed former First Lady? There is the problem, and there is the dilemma the Democrats find themselves in as Schweizer’s shot reverberates through the countryside.
The fact is, the Democrats are very much like the mediocre NFL team laden with overpaid, declining veteran players whose guaranteed contracts gobble up salary cap space and prevent a needed roster overhaul. The only way such a team can be rebuilt is to eat the “dead money,” bring in a slew of cheap young players, and make the best of what’s likely to be a rough patch for a couple of seasons until the salary cap problems are past. When the leadership of the Democratic Party is found in the Hillary Clintons, Harry Reids, Nancy Pelosis, Joe Bidens, John Kerrys, and Al Gores of the world, and the Democrats’ bench has been badly depleted in the last few election cycles, there are no young stars on the way up.
That’s why people actually take it seriously when Bill de Blasio makes noises about running next year. That’s why Martin O’Malley, the failed governor of Maryland whose protégé lost to a Republican — in Maryland! — in a bid to succeed him, is taken seriously. That’s why the ludicrous Liz Warren is being put forth as the Left’s dream candidate.
There is no bench on the Democrat side, and there is no candidate available to replace Hillary Clinton — regardless of how unelectable she is.
It points to an exceedingly bleak choice: ride Clinton to her inevitable bitter end and suffer the down-ballot damage a rejected presidential candidate inevitably brings, or start over with a sacrificial lamb who might be better poised for a 2020 comeback. In the latter might come eventual renewal. In the former only comes the defeat and disgrace of a worn-out, spent political party.