John, following Glenn Reynolds, argues below that as president Hillary would be out of control, because she’s a Clinton, and sleaze is what Clintons do. Younger voters may not know and the rest of us may have forgotten that the 1996 election tightened at the end when news came out about illegal foreign contributions to the Clinton campaign, brokered by such sterling figures as Charlie Trie, Pauline Kanchanalak, and Johnny Chung. Far from learning their lesson, the Clintons adopted foreign contributions as the business model for the Clinton Foundation. No wonder Hillary wanted to be secretary of state.
Let’s assume for the purposes of discussion that Hillary hangs on to win. Here’s the first question for the class: How is the transition going to go? Answer: Badly.
The standard talking point is that a Hillary win represents a third term for Barack Obama, just as George H.W. Bush’s win in 1988 was said to represent a third term for Ronald Reagan. Except—the Obama cadres are not Clinton loyalists. Transitions within parties can actually be more difficult than between the two parties. This was the case in 1988, when the “Bushoisie,” as I liked to call them, regarded the Reaganites as the people who prevented their boss from being elected president in 1980. As I wrote in The Age of Reagan:
But in fact the first order of business for the Bush transition was turning out all of the Reaganites as quickly as possible. It was said of Bush appointees that unlike Reaganites, they had mortgages rather than ideologies. Paul Weyrich said that he had always feared that the election of Bush meant the arrival of “country club Republicans who couldn’t wait for the end of the Reagan administration.” George Shultz’s top aide at the State Department, Charles Hill, recalled that “It was suddenly clear that this would be an adversarial transition. The new people were not friendly. The signals were: get out of here as fast as you can.”
This is exactly how the Obama-to-Hillary transition will go, too. From the perspective of a Hillary loyalist, Obama’s people are “the enemy.”
Just who is Hillary going to get to work for her? Most of the people who worked for the Bill Clinton administration in the 1990s are too old or doing other things. Much of the top talent in the Democratic firmament have worked for Obama, and won’t be brought back. I expect we’ll see the return of obscure and sketchy figures like Trie, Chung, and Kanchanalak making a return.
But the most interesting reason why a Hillary administration is likely to be a fiasco from Day One (aside from the ongoing investigations) is that the far left of the Democratic Party (in other words, the party’s center of gravity) doesn’t trust her, and is already drawing up plans to veto many of her personnel appointments. The Washington Post reported last week:
Liberal advocacy groups are preparing blacklists of candidates for appointments to a Hillary Clinton administration, with one organization even producing opposition research to torpedo contenders they consider too soft on Wall Street or other corporate interests.
Planning for a Democratic victory on Nov. 8, these interest groups and like-minded lawmakers are laying the groundwork to push Clinton, if she is elected, to prove her progressive bona fides through early legislation and personnel appointments.
One liberal group has already forwarded 150 names of acceptable appointees for economic positions to Clinton’s transition team, while others on the left are engaged in opposition research against prospects for administration jobs whom they see as unacceptable.
Hillary’s biggest problem, like Lyndon Johnson starting around 1966 and Jimmy Carter by 1979, may come from her own party more than from Republicans. And I thought “blacklists” are something only Republican McCarthyites did. Pass the popcorn.