At The Week, Michael Dougherty makes, powerfully, a point that I have also tried to make more than once, in a piece called “The astonishing weakness of Hillary Clinton.” The original contains links, which I have omitted:
[T]he entirety of Clinton’s campaign has alternated between distancing herself from the legacy of her family name, and stonewalling reporters investigating one scandal or another. In the first category, she has repudiated the tough-on-crime policies of her husband. She has strongly embraced gay marriage even though her previous support for traditional marriage was, according to Clinton, rooted in timeless religious principles. She has joined the new gender politics, despite her own history of slut-shaming her husband’s mistresses. …
Hillary Clinton has never won a competitive election. This can’t be repeated enough. She beat Republican Rep. Rick Lazio for her Senate seat in 2000. And she defeated a mayor from Yonkers in 2006. In her first competitive race, the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, she began as a heavy favorite and she lost. …
She has high name-recognition. Until she started campaigning she was polling well even with Republicans.
Hillary has always coasted on the favorability she acquired as First Lady (which was weak by First Lady standards, but very high by politician standards). And along the way, she got a reputation for being smart, which isn’t particularly true.
She has the Obama coalition, and an electoral map where Republicans need significant pickups. But boy, it all seems underwhelming. What is the task for Democrats in the post-Obama era? Why is Clinton the one to take on this mission?
An excellent question! I think one reason why Democrats obsessively and often absurdly demonize Republicans, in lieu of any other sort of political discourse, is that they have no idea where to go next.
After achieving a policy almost approximating universal health care, the dream of Democrats since Harry Truman, what are the Democrats to do? Are they pro-globalization? Do they have ideas for integrating the great wave of immigration to America that has occurred over the past 50 years? Do they have anything to offer the dying white working class? Are they for reforming any of America’s major institutions?
Clinton just seems like a mismatch for the party and the moment. The center-left darling of Wall Street talking up issues of inequality. The former Walmart board member posing as savior of American jobs. The “Smart Power” leader whose achievement at state was wrecking a nation and turning it over to Sunni terrorists faster than George W. Bush. A champion of women who pretended the leader of the free world was the victim of his intern. The wife of a man who flies on the “Lolita Express” with a porn star that was booked for “massages.” The vanquisher of a Yonkers mayor.
And yet, weak though she may be, Hillary is, as Dougherty concludes, the best the Democrats have to offer. The Democrats’ consternation will only grow between now and November 2016.