An abscess of anger seems to gnaw at Hillary Clinton, but the reasons for her resentments remain unclear. The world’s oldest party, which governed the nation during two world wars and is the primary architect of America’s regulatory and redistributive state, is eager to give her its presidential nomination, in recognition of … what?
The party, adrift in identity politics, clings to this odd feminist heroine. Wafted into the upper reaches of American politics by stolid participation in her eventful marriage to a serial philanderer, her performance in governance has been defined by three failures.
Her husband entrusted to her the project that he made his immediate priority – health care reform.
Hillary Clinton enveloped her health care deliberations in secrecy, assembling behind closed doors battalions of the best and the brightest – think of many Jonathan Grubers weaving complexities for the good of, but beyond the comprehension of, the public. When their handiwork was unveiled, it was so baroque that neither house of a Congress controlled by her party would even vote on it.
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Clinton’s Senate interlude was an uneventful prelude to her 2008 presidential quest, which earned her, as a consolation prize, the State Department. There her tenure was defined by the “reset” with Russia and by regime-change-by-bombers in Libya.
Russia has responded by violently dismembering a European nation. And Libya is a humanitarian calamity, a failed state convulsed by civil war and exporting jihadists.
These episodes supposedly recommend a re-immersion in Clintonism, a phenomenon that in 2001 moved The Washington Post to say that “the Clintons’ defining characteristic” is that “they have no capacity for embarrassment.” This judgment was rendered as two episodes were demonstrating that the Clintons in power were defined by their manner of leaving it.
Bill Clinton punctuated his presidency by pardoning the late Marc Rich, a fugitive who 17 years earlier had been indicted for tax evasion, fraud and racketeering. Rich’s former wife reportedly contributed more than $1 million to assorted Democratic causes, $450,000 for Clinton’s presidential library, and $10,000 to the legal defense fund necessitated by Clinton’s glandular life.
A year before the Clintons decamped from Washington to begin planning their return to it, they began trucking away from the White House $190,000 worth of furnishings. Perhaps exigencies dictated this; the couple was, Hillary Clinton says, “dead broke.” The furnishings became, as things often do with the Clintons, another occasion for an “it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” tiptoe along the ledge of illegality.
As Hillary Clinton begins her campaign to again reside with the White House furnishings, remember an episode perhaps pertinent to the family penchant for secrecy. Sandy Berger, who had been President Clinton’s national security adviser, was Clinton’s designated representative to the commission that investigated the 9/11 attacks that occurred less than nine months after Clinton left office. While representing Clinton, Berger frequented the National Archives. Later, he was fined $50,000 for surreptitiously taking highly classified documents from the Archives and destroying some of them.
Another Clinton presidency probably would include a reprise of the couple’s well-known patterns of behavior. Voters will make an informed choice.