Were Hillary Clinton to decide eventually that she won’t be a presidential candidate in 2016 after all, we know this would leave a whole lot of folk quite deflated. True, she looked like a shoo-in for the White House to be back under Clinton control in 2008 too, before history took an altogether different turn. But as of now, she looks hard to beat, both for the Democratic nomination (if there’s any challenge mounted there) and when facing off against the Republican nominee. But if, when the word does come from her, it’s a “no,” there’s good reason to be understanding, even if dispirited about how that could change the complexion of the next presidential race.
The Clintons are said to be tough cookies. And we certainly got a sense of that during their White House years, given the non-stop pounding they took from forces on the right who seemed to have organized Clinton bashing into a well-oiled machine. But, tough or not, you reach a point of asking yourself if dodging a steady barrage of poison darts is really worth it. Hillary’s position as presumptive leader of the pack already has her squarely in the crosshairs of the trigger-happy bunch arrayed on the other side…albeit for an election more than two years distant.
A writer connected to the conservative Weekly Standard, Daniel Halper, has come out with a book to add to the already extensive Clinton-focused argot. “Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine” wasn’t a vehicle for tossing brickbats, the author says, but to identify problem areas Hillary would have to address as a candidate. That, at least, is how Halper summed it up when interviewed on C-SPAN’s “Book TV “ last weekend. The author’s determined pursuit of whatever looked to be potential Clinton pitfalls – his protestations about not intending to throw barbs notwithstanding – is the kind of stuff that, in merciless profusion, might give Hillary pause about running again.
As a Weekly Standard guy, it’s hard for Halper to be taken seriously with his insistence that he is all about unvarnished reporting of the Hillary (and Bill) saga. An online promo for “Clinton, Inc.” sings its praises, via the obligatory right-wing voices, of course. The National Review’s Rich Lowry suggests we check out Halper’s “appropriately excoriating book” to get hip to how horrid a pair the Clintons are, and “consider yourselves warned.”
Seeing that the advertised hosannas come almost exclusively from usual suspects on the right, it is presumably one of their ilk who penned the tease for the book in the promo. No surprise that these types, salivating over yet another forum to vaporize the Clintons, would somewhere in the exuberance display scant regard for adhering to fact. Contrasting the Clintons’ standing today as probably the country’s two most popular politicians with when his presidential stint ended, the assertion is made that upon departing the White House they were “a disgraced couple, weighed down by a decade of scandal…” Really? Gotta hand it to Hillary who, as a “disgraced” wife did pretty well for herself the previous November, handily winning a New York Senate seat. A reference to Chelsea Clinton mentions her being “raised in the White House as her father was impeached” (disingenuously ignoring that the House voted articles of impeachment that went nowhere in the Senate).
That the Clinton presidency was a noted success; that he presided over a robust economy in which approximately 23 million jobs were created; that he turned the huge deficit left by his GOP predecessor into a surplus that was, in turn, squandered by the misguided policies of the GOP crew that succeeded him; that his pioneering multiple placements of women and minorities in cabinet and other key positions was a plus, not a bust; all of this has stuck in the throat of right-wing bashers – difficult to swallow. Resorting to half-truths, misrepresentations and the like is the sum total of feel-good condemnation that critics like the “Clinton, Inc.” author and his bedfellows can have. They confess being dumbfounded at the favorability numbers the Clintons enjoy with the American people. Only because at every turn, on the Clinton question, they have been on the wrong side of where a majority of the public stood.
Hence the cheap shots. What “disgraced couple weighed down by scandal” in 2001? Are the American people such idiots that they can’t distinguish between scandal and the witch hunts real or would-be demagogues used to hound the Clintons ad nauseam? Had Bill Clinton’s eight-year stewardship not registered with the people as positively as it did, he and his wife would not today be held in the high regard they are. The conservative juggernaut can continue being as blind as it cares to be to this truth.
As for Hillary and 2016, there’s no doubting the comfort zone her being in the mix would provide for those of us whose proletarian perspective always runs afoul of what they’re spewing on the right. No doubt either that she would be one heck of a lot superior to anyone from the rogues’ gallery of presidential pretenders likely to be trotted out from that camp.