My Hillary problem

Bill Curry offers a succinct accounting of Hillary Clinton’s failures:

This is her problem; misunderstanding many of the issues she studies so hard. She can’t speak with conviction of the evils of globalization, she spent years cheering it on and doesn’t really get what’s wrong with it. She can’t get too worked up about pay to play politics; she perfected it and still deems it the best way to win elections. After four years as Secretary of State she still doesn’t see the folly of exporting democracy by force of arms, or that our safety lies in the rule of law.

Clinton has reversed herself on two huge issues: the Keystone pipeline and the Trans Pacific Partnership. She’ll get less credit than she’d like and fume about how hard it is to satisfy liberals. But in making each switch she looked and sounded as if she were moving pawns on a chess board. She announced the Keystone decision in a blog that provided almost no rationale; the line the “SNL” writers gave her was stronger than anything she said about it in real life. Her TPP interview makes clear her commitment there is provisional. (She hasn’t seen the text) She speaks of jobs and currency but not a word on the issue many progressives find most galling, the ceding to corporate interests of the prerogatives of democracy. Nothing she’s ever said in public suggests she’s given that much thought.

Never one, as my published record makes clear, to succumb to Barack Hussein Obama’s charm, I didn’t push the lever on his behalf in 2008, reluctantly, but did so in 2012, happily. For me when Obama purports to agonize over gay marriage and TPP in public, the force of his feline intelligence animates every sentence. When Hillary approaches a podium, it’s with the confidence of a person who has reviewed every staff paper recommending she look confident. It may be that in ten years the Iran deal in which she played a part will redeem her undistinguished and often ruthless tenure as secretary of state (never let it be said that she opposes the vestigial flexing of American muscle).

Whatever. She’s an operator. She would have been a marvelous chief of staff. I may write soon a piece in which I compare her to George H.W. Bush, a mushmouthed party satrap ill equipped to be a party head (“He’s a person you appoint to things,” Nixon said in retirement) and oafish when a shift in political winds demands reversals that exhaust the candidate with each declaration, like a chemo patient ascending a flight of stairs. We on the left have got her where we want her thanks to Obama, Bernie Sanders, and a changing electorate. At last she’s closer to my way of thinking. Fine. I can’t forget that the Clintons sold Democratic values for the sake of relevance and winning elections. I wouldn’t have wanted Bob Dole and the Gingrich Congress either. Perhaps the age demanded nothing less — or more. But I shudder at the thought of the next Edward Snowden, the next terrorist attack. Drones schmones.

And here we are. It’s taken Obama’s incremental steps to remind his party of its socially progressive past; Sanders reminds it of its roots in economic fairness. To be an avatar of change you didn’t espouse may take more image makers than Hillary can put on her payroll.

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