I could have sworn that I published an essay several months ago in which I stated that Hillary’s biggest problem was Bill. Not as in Bill the philanderer, or Bill the liar or even Bill of the spotted dress but Bill the President. Democrats have bought into the belief that people loved Bill Clinton and would love to see a re-run of his administration. But that is a fantasy. There were sighs of relief, even among some Democrats, when the moving truck pulled away from the White House with the stolen furniture and the ink on the Clinton pardons still drying on the Oval Office desk.
The long national soap opera was finally over.
Of course there is a hard core of true believers who are attached to that gang of Arkansas hillbillies. You see them gathered around Hillary like a high school reunion, reliving the past and talking about who dated whom. But Bill never polled a majority during his two runs for the Presidency. And the American people are not about to vote for re-runs with Hillary in the starring role as Nurse Ratchet.
Jonah Goldberg is onto something, but I was first …. If only I could find that essay.
When it comes Clinton-esque lying, Hillary is a cheap imitation.
By Jonah Goldberg
The most enjoyable aspect of watching the HMS Hillary take on water is the prospect that Bill — and his cult of personality — will go down with the ship, too.
Bill Clinton has been stumping for his wife on the Iowa hustings, framing the election as a referendum on his tenure as president. Last month in Muscatine (during the same speech in which he falsely claimed to have opposed the Iraq war from the beginning), he told the assembled Democrats that HMS Hillary could transport America “back to the future.”
Last summer, when he first started hawking Hillary like a door-to-door salesman, he told a crowd: “I know some people say, ‘Look at them. They’re old. They’re sort of yesterday’s news.’...
“Well,” Slick Willie said, grinning, “yesterday’s news was pretty good.”
Indeed, Hillary’s entire campaign has been grounded in her experience in the Clinton administration of the 1990s, even though that experience mostly involves designing a failed health-care plan and unsuccessfully hectoring her husband to move to the left. Still, as New York Times editorial writer Adam Cohen noted in a column last week, it was her decision to make the choice between her and Barack Obama a “referendum on a decade.”
So if Hillary Clinton loses the race for the nomination — heck, even if she just loses the Iowa caucuses — I hope to see this headline somewhere, perhaps in the New York Post: “America to Clinton(s): We’re Just Not That Into You.”
The rush of schadenfreude would be so overwhelming, the entire Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy would have to hie itself to its fainting couch. For years now, the Clintons’ defenders have claimed that the ’90s were halcyon days, thanks to the deft statesmanship of the Clintons. Much of the liberal establishment has become wedded to protecting the memory of the Clintons’ stewardship. David Brock’s progressive outfit, Media Matters for America, is a prime example. It should be renamed “Hillary Matters for America,” given that it is less a media watchdog and more an attack dog for Hillary Clinton.
But schadenfreude doesn’t really do justice to Hillary’s potential downfall. Her career is indisputably a product of her marriage. But for most of her life, Hillary had an independent ideological identity that now seems to have gone down the memory hole. In her own words, she championed a whole new “politics of meaning” and sought to redefine “who we are as human beings in this postmodern age.”
But, bit by bit, she sliced off chunks of her soul. Hillary used to be the personification of hope for the left. On the welfare debate, she was supposed to be Bill’s conscience. She was the Eleanor to his Franklin.
But now Hillary is the Democrats’ establishment candidate, pitted against the true believer, John Edwards, and the idealist, Obama. Even committed liberals tell focus groups she’s too cold, too calculating.
And how did she get that way? She studied at the feet of the master. Bill Clinton cast himself as a champion of the “Third Way,” a grandiose political phrase with disturbing intellectual roots. For Bill, it mostly meant that he could split the difference between any two positions. Any hard choice was a “false choice.” When asked how he’d have voted on the first Persian Gulf War, he said he agreed with the minority but would have voted with the majority. He smoked pot but didn’t inhale. Monica Lewinsky had sex with him, but he could swear under oath he didn’t have sex with her.
Bill can make those sorts of things work because he really believes them — or at least he does as the words are coming out of his mouth. Hillary has nowhere near that sort of skill. She’s learned the dance moves and she’s memorized the lyrics, but she can’t hear the music. That was evident in the now-infamous Oct. 30 debate performance during which she said she was both for and against driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and for and against pulling troops out of Iraq.
In this race, she’s tried to be hawk and dove, idealist and pragmatist, martyr and hero. But unlike her husband — a jazz impresario of people-pleasing prevarication — she’s a terrible liar. She comes across as calculated because that’s all that’s left to her: calculation. Jesse Jackson once famously said that Bill Clinton had no core beliefs, he was simply “appetite” all the way down. That appetite seems to have become community property in the Clinton household, such as it is.
Obama is surging because Democrats want idealism and hope. Hillary has jettisoned her idealism, and she’s filed down her hope to mere yearning.
Jonah is right about Hillary as an unattractive, synthetic version of “Bill the Great Triangulator.” But I think he misses the point when he assumes that if Hillary were a better liar and less of a shrew she would be our next president. I disagree. I think that the American people are tired of both Clintons. Not just the ones, like me, who did not like Bill while in office, but also those who may have voted for him, twice. We are no longer on a holiday from history and the Clinton soap opera is not getting renewed.