Is the bloom off the rose? In other words, is President Hillary Clinton still inevitable?
In his column yesterday Frank Bruni suggested that she is not. He intimated that the idea of a Hillary presidency is far more appealing than Hillary herself as candidate or president.
Since Bruni leans left politically, he would normally be expected to be a fan of America’s most famous cuckquean.
Bruni began his analysis by commenting on the precipitous decline in Clinton’s favorability:
It’s about time, because the truth, more apparent with each day, is that [Hillary] ... has serious problems as a potential 2016 presidential contender, and the premature cheerleading of Chuck Schumer and other Democrats won’t change that.
In the wake of the federal shutdown, in the midst of the Obamacare meltdown, voter disgust with business as usual is at the kind of peak that ensures more than the usual share of surprises in the next few elections. In one recent poll, 60 percent of Americans said that they’d like to see everyone in Congress, including their own representatives, replaced; in another, a similar majority hankered for a third party.
These unusually big numbers suggest a climate in which someone who has been front and center in politics for nearly a quarter-century won’t make all that many hearts beat all that much faster. Voters are souring on familiar political operators, especially those in, or associated with, Washington. That’s why Clinton has fallen. She’s lumped together with President Obama, with congressional leaders, with the whole reviled lot of them.
That was just an opening gambit. Bruni continued:
And some of the ways in which she stands out from the lot aren’t flattering. She comes with a more tangled political history of gifts bestowed, favors owed, ironclad allegiances and ancient feuds than almost any possible competitor does. We’ve had frequent reminders of that: in the Anthony Weiner saga; in reports of mismanagementat the Clinton Foundation; in coverage of Terry McAuliffe’s bid to become Virginia’s governor.
We’ve also had glimpses of the Clintons as an entrenched, entitled ruling class. To a degree that has turned off even some of the couple’s loyalists, Bill and Hillary have been unabashed lately in their coronation of Chelsea as the Clinton in waiting, the heir to the throne.
Dynastic politics? Who would have thought it? The ultimate American political dynasty was the Kennedy family. The Bushes run a distant second. But, is America looking for a Clinton dynasty?
Bruni said that this will work in her disfavor and I think he is correct.
When he asked about the rationale for a Hillary presidency, Bruni came up empty:
And what would the argument for a Hillary presidency be? Something interesting happens when you ask Democrats why her in 2016. They say that it’s time for a woman, that she’ll raise oodles of dough, that other potentially strong candidates won’t dare take her on. The answers are about the process more than the person or any vision she has for the country. There’s no poetry in them. That’s not good.
And she has no real record of achievement:
She sailed high as secretary of state because, apart from Benghazi, she could and did position herself mostly above the partisan fray. The hellcat had become a cool cat,wearing shades instead of thick glasses, the meme of all memes.
But nine months since she left that job, it’s hard to pinpoint what, other than all those dutiful miles she logged, her legacy is. She has returned to her earth, and it’s a fickle place.
Bruni was too kind to mention Clinton’s foreign policy failures, from the Arab Spring to Syria to the Reset with Russia.
He closed with a devastating observation. During the 2012 presidential campaign the Obama team weighed the possibility of replacing Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton.
Everyone, Bruni said, is reading it as an insult to Biden.
Yet, the Obama campaign dropped the idea when they discovered that adding Hillary to the ticket would not produce any meaningful improvement in the president’s poll number.