Belmont Club

The Lost Turnoff

If Hillary Clinton wins the 2016 elections her first tasks will be damage control.  The “third Obama term” will spend its time fixing the mess left by the first two. Greg Jaffe at the Washington Post says the foreign policy elite will be happy to see president Obama go so they can get back to normal. “In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama’s departure from the White House — and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton — is being met with quiet relief.”


Domestically the situation is the same. Democrats — even Hillary Clinton — are waiting for Obamacare to finally die so that they can bury it and craft its successor. “An email leaked by WikiLeaks Tuesday appears to suggest that Hillary Clinton wants the Affordable Care Act to fail — presumably as a pretense for implementing single-payer, government-controlled health care.”

No one is embarrassed by this.  If the contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were not strange enough in its own right, consider this: the 2016 election is in some way a psychological re-run of the 2008 primary between Barack Obama and Hillary. It was a fatal moment when the Democratic party made the wrong choice; this is the last chance to get things back on track, to turn back the clock to before Obama went off the rails to the liberal future that should have been.  Back to that magic moment when America bestrode the world before Syria or Libya or Yemen or Afghanistan or Ukraine to when Russia was still a friend, Wikileaks and Snowden had not happened yet and Obamacare was still a  promise that hadn’t been broken.

It is the psychological shadow 2008 that is so fatal for 2016.  To the objection that “you can’t repeat the past” the obvious answer is “of course you can! We’re going to fix everything just the way it was before”.  Like most forms of wishful it requires hypnotic suggestion, in the form of Bill in the form of Hillary, a reminder of the good things that were an could be again.


One the most frequently cited reasons for electing Hillary is that  only she can fix Obama’s failures.  She has the requisite familiarity with Gordian knot to untie it, because she helped entangle it.  But that’s not the half of it, Donald “The Outsider” Trump, everyone in the policy elite seems to have concluded, can’t return things to normal because he doesn’t know what they looked like Once Upon a Time, like Hillary did.  Therefore he can’t fix US Russia ties or begin to comprehend the Byzantine condition of Syria, let alone Turkey, Iran, Yemen, the Sudan, Philippines.  He has no memory of the Time Before the Fall even as The Snake.  But Hillary does and can fix Obamacare, darn tootin’. “I’m going to fix it,” Clinton modestly told an audience at Washington University in St. Louis.

Of course no one can repeat the past any more than generals can actually re-fight the last war. Things change in so many ways as to make it impossible. But that did not keep either Gatsby nor Obama from trying. The Christian Science Monitor notes that the ongoing Battle For Mosul is politically a quest for vindication; an attempt by Obama to salvage his legacy; to show that “leading from behind, reimagined”  with a few more drones, more artillery, more special forces and more lawyers and rules of engagement can actually work. That’s even truer of Obamacare.  All it will take according to ObamaCare analyst Charles Gaba is “more stabilization measures … such as ‘risk adjustment’ and ‘reinsurance’ which Republicans have decried as ‘bailouts’ of insurers.  It’s going to work if they have to construct a single payer system to do it.


In her now famous ‘deplorables’ remarks Hillary accused her opponent’s supporters as “people who are drawn because they think somehow he’s going to restore an America that no longer exists.”  She believes they live in the past.  Yet ironically Hillary herself comes from the same place only a smaller part of it.  The part that worked in union shops and government.  She’s part of the Blue Model part which is also gone forever.

Jordan Baker observed near the conclusion of the Great Gatsby that “a bad driver was only safe until she met another bad driver”.  That perhaps explains why Hillary and Donald are strangely paired. With only one of them in attendance the observed political catastrophe could not have taken place.

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