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Hillary's Dilemma: How to Distance Herself from Obama
by Jonah Goldberg
Hillary Clinton is in a pickle. She's a shoe-in for her party's presidential nomination because of Barack Obama's failures. But those failures might keep her from getting the job. Her husband's "law of politics" is that elections are always about the future, but she's stuck in the past.
In 2008, Obama pandered to liberal hopes while Clinton appealed to their good sense. Obama promised miracles and magic. Clinton promised more homework.
"Cynicism" was Obama's real opponent, he explained. And he used Clinton as a stand-in for it. She played her part, pointing out that the Civil Rights Act got through
And, as we have learned from a president who so often thinks giving a speech is a substitute for solving a problem, she had the better argument. One need only look at the reaction from Democrats to President Obama's handling of the VA scandal to see that even they would trade some inspirational claptrap for a bit more old-fashioned competence.
That attitude helps Clinton immensely. Burned by disappointment, many liberals want to vote with their heads, not their hearts, this time around.
And the Hillary Industrial Complex is ready to exploit that sentiment. The HIC is the vast network of loyalists, retreads, activists, pols, hacks, fans (in and out of the press),
The Hillary Industrial Complex must be an awesomely hard thing to say no to. It would feel like telling your royal entourage, after years of buildup, that you're going to decline the throne and live a quiet life in the country. These remoras are counting on her, not just for jobs and access but for vindication; "We were right to back Hillary from the beginning!"
Alas, leaning on your entourage for advice is never a great idea. They may think Clinton would be a fresh start, but will normal voters not similarly invested in her? Americans almost never reward a party with a third consecutive term in the
Clinton's clearly not taking any chances. In her first campaign-style speech on the economy last week at the
Not only was there precious little talk of Obama, there was precious little talk of her four years on Obama's once-vaunted "team of rivals." She listed none of her major accomplishments as secretary of state, probably because she had none. (She did open with a reference to some bureaucratic reshuffling on her watch.) No serious student of foreign policy thinks our strategic standing in the world improved on Clinton's watch as America's chief diplomat. That alone doesn't mean she was a terrible secretary of state -- lots of people in that job tread water. But it doesn't inspire either. Meanwhile, the most famous thing she did in that job was nothing -- on the night of the Benghazi attack. She also traveled a lot, which is nice.
You can understand why Clinton might want to pretend that the Obama years never happened. I certainly get why she wants to run on her husband's record rather than her own. But I can't see how this is adds up to a compelling message outside the Hillary Industrial Complex, which may be stuck with a lot of bumper stickers.
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