I believe it was Tony Blankley who first likened Hillary Clinton to Richard Nixon. This past March in “Hillary on track for nomination,” Blankley wrote:
Hillary’s strengths are not yet as appreciated as they will be. Don’t get me wrong, personally I find her and her candidacy detestable as the worst form of unprincipled, ruthless, nihilistic, mud-throwing demagogic politics. But for the Democratic Party electorate (and some Independents and soft Republicans) her apparent strengths will become more persuasive. Currently she suffers by the media’s focus on her lack of spontaneity, charm or pleasant voice — particularly when compared with Obama and, to some extent, Edwards.
But charm is not the only path to the American voter. Richard Milhous Nixon won more national elections than any politician in our history (two vice presidents, three presidential nominations and two presidencies — three if you count the stolen 1960 election against Kennedy). He didn’t have any charm — but he was smart, shrewd, highly political, hard working and ruthless. Sometimes the voters are looking for what they think is competence rather than a love affair.
That is why I sometimes use the name Hillary Milhous Clinton for the junior senator from New York. It is only partially meant to be negative. But it is meant to be a warning to my fellow Republicans. Beware. It will be up to the Republicans to protect the country from the increasing likelihood of a Hillary presidency.
On Friday Charles Krauthammer devoted his column to Ms. Hillary and dubbed her “The Great Navigator.” His column was the first evidence of Blankley’s prediction regarding the apparently unlikely appreciation of her strengths. Krauthammer described Ms. Hillary: “Always careful, always calibrated, always leaving room for expediency over ideology.” Krauthammer implies that she is something close to a complete opportunist. He allows that he “could live with her — precisely because she is so liberated from principle.”
Krauthammer’s tribute to Ms. Hillary from the right recalls Garry Wills’s 1972 tribute to Nixon from the left: “There is…some reason to to take the cynical view that a vote for your political enemy is the wisest course — he has no one to sell out to but you.” Wills judged Nixon to be the embodiment of the “Wilsonian worst of liberalism.” Wills concluded that, although he could never vote for Nixon, he “could resign myself to him[.]”
Wills’s judgments of Nixon are akin to Krauthammer’s assessment of Ms. Hillary: “I could never vote for her because the Clintons’ liberal internationalism on display in the 1990s — the pursuit of paper treaties and the reliance on international institutions — is naive in theory and feckless in practice.” Ms. Hillary’s November/December 2007 Foreign Affairs essay setting forth her foreign policy views — almost certainly written by Richard Holbrooke and almost certainly providing a fair warning of what her administration would give us. The pr