Hillary Clinton may yet win the Democratic nomination—if she is not indicted. After all, it is hard for a New England spread-the-wealth socialist like rival Bernie Sanders to appeal to working-class southern whites, minorities, or the wealthy Democratic establishment. It is still likely that the Democratic Party will find a way to aid an ailing and scandal-plagued Mrs. Clinton, rather than turn over its future to a 74-year-old scold, who for most of his voting life was not a Democrat and whose redistributionist agendas and Woodstock fables about the 1960s make Obama seem centrist in comparison.
All that said, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign rhetoric is coming up empty—largely because it is at odds with the way she has lived her life and conducted her various careers over the last two decades. Voters, even younger ones, are now sorely aware of those flagrant contradictions.
The so-called Republican war on women was successful Democratic demagoguery in 2008 and 2012. That paranoid mythmaking worked with urban, unmarried young women. They were terrified of old white-guy Republican bogeymen, who would make them pay for their birth control and take away abortion on demand, were indifferent to new expansive definitions of sexual harassment, and seemed hung up on what were seen as roadblocks—religion, marriage, and family—to a young, college-educated woman’s self-expression. Yet Hillary has now lost that long-enshrined wedge issue after only 24 hours of Donald Trump’s withering counter-fire—in stark contrast to past years of failed Republican counter-strategies.
Trump assumed that her problem was not just that Bill Clinton had been a recognized serial womanizer and cheat for over forty years, but involved far greater hypocrisies. First, it was hard to find any sexual liaison of Bill’s that ever had a good word to say about him. The consensual Monica Lewinsky variety all felt used and manipulated. The Juanita Broaddrick-Paula Jones-Kathleen Willey category alleged that they were victims of crude coercion or violent assault.
Bill was not, then, the garden-variety beltway philander, but in a special uncouth class that might have won him an indictment without his political immunities. It is bad enough for Hillary to be married to a serial skirt-chaser, but quite worse to have a husband hop on convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s Lolita Express jet.
Second, unfortunately for Hillary, Bill chose to reappear on the campaign trail. (Does he suffer from some repressed psychological tic to sabotage his wife’s candidacy?) His wraith-like, Dorian-Gray appearance unfortunately reminds us that his sexual roguery and mendacity are now visibly imprinted on his face. The Romans had a word, effututus, for someone of Bill’s past history and present visage. In other words, voters are daily reminded of Hillary’s sexual hypocrisy by Bill’s daily ubiquity.
Third, Hillary and others have helped redefine current sexual harassment in far broader terms. Thus unwittingly Hillary has only highlighted Bill’s shenanigans, posing the question: How could such a feminist icon stay married to such a retrograde sexual predator? Had Bill stayed at his mansion or kept to his transoceanic frolicking, his escapades might have been out of sight and out of mind, not constant reminders of how a new generation of women has redefined those like Bill Clinton into pariah status.
Fairly or not, Hillary Clinton’ populist progressive war on Wall Street is another dead end. Every time she screeches about making Wall Street pay, voters wonder to whom and for what. According to Hillary’s logic, she only gets what Wall Street currently pays or does not pay to other former secretaries of State on the lecture tour. So does Madeleine Albright earn $250,000 for 20-minute chats to Goldman Sachs?
Why then is there any need for campaign finance laws at all, given that no one ever gives money to anyone with any quid pro quo intention? Can a teacher or plumber also hit up Wall Street for over $600,000 in speaking fees to discuss K-12 education or the intricacies of Manhattan sewer mains?
In this year of the so-called outsider, the consummate insider Clinton is also running as a populist renegade. That façade too is a dead-end proposition—unless voters believe that outsiders are not only (consecutively) first lady, a U.S. senator, and a secretary of State, but also twice a presidential candidate over the last 25 years and worth well over $100 million.
The economy is ossified. GDP growth was below 1% last year. Labor participation is at historic lows. Family income is shrinking. So anemic is the economy that traditional spurs such as low-energy prices, near-zero interest rates, massive deficit spending, and printing money cannot revive it. Yet Hillary cannot ankle-bite Obama on his dismal leadership. One, she was a part of the administration, and so faces the paradox of “if things are so bad, why didn’t you do anything about them the last 7 years?” Is Clinton to run on four more heady years of Obama the Great, or on the assurance that her next four years will be even better than his last eight— or neither, or both?
Two, her judicial fate is in the hands of the Obama Justice Department. If she were to fade out on the campaign trail, or were to critique the Obama record, the FBI might well convince Attorney General Loretta Lynch to indict her—in the manner that a politically bothersome Sen. Menendez, Dinesh D’Souza, Nakoula Nakoula, or Gen. David Petraeus suddenly wound up facing indictments.
Candidates who damn student debt don’t shake down universities for over $200,000 for a 30-minute chat. What might instead have Hillary said to students: “I’ll speak for $50K and give you guys a $150,000 discount because I want to ensure the cost does not add too much to your student loans”?
Candidates who scream about unpunished Wall Street crimes and one-percent skullduggery are not themselves facing an FBI criminal investigation, predicated on the fact that Mrs. Clinton did not think federal rules should apply to herself, as she put her own careerist concerns over the national-security interests of her country.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is headed down a dead-end street. There are no way-outs through decrying the treatment of women and the baleful influence of Wall Street, calling for fair enforcement of laws, referring to either the sad or great state of Obama’s economy and foreign policy, or voicing the populist concern for indebted students and losers in today’s calcified economy.
Hoping that Bill Clinton fades out or that Obama’s popularity hits 55% or that the FBI and Justice Department are as politicized as Obama’s Chicago-style IRS, ICE, or EPA is not a winning way to the White House.