Political prognostication is an uncertain art, never more so than in the New Hampshire primaries of 2016. On the eve of the elections, equipped as I am with all the most scientific polling and profoundest opinions of the professional pundits, I still wouldn’t place a bet on the electoral outcome of the race.
On other hand, I’d be willing to put a few dollars on the proposition that, when the history of the 2016 presidential race is written, the past week in New Hampshire will go down as the place where the Clinton campaign lost its way.
Bernie Sanders didn’t do her in. She did it herself, with two unforced errors.
The first error was her transparently false attempt to recast herself as a bank-busting progressive. This gave rise to a very public airing of a very inconvenient fact: After leaving the State Department, Hillary got rich selling her services to the highest bidder.
Not all of the $21 million Hillary got for speechmaking and private audiences came from Wall Street companies. But almost two million did. What did Hillary do for the money? Why was she worth a quarter of a million dollars an hour? Did the bankers pay her for leadership bromides (there is no ‘I’ in team!) or valuable insights? Come on. She could have serenaded them with the original score of Cats for all they cared. That money was Wall Street venture capital, an investment in access and influence in a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Progressives know this of course, and they despise her for believing they are stupid enough to fall for her act. That’s why they holler ‘liar’ when her face shows up on TV. Some will vote for her on in November, if she gets there, but they won’t turn out in the Obama-like numbers required for victory.
Hillary’s second mistake in New Hampshire was boasting that she gets things done (in contrast to Bernie, a mere dreamer). This invites the public to focus on her record and opens a door that leads to an empty trophy room.
After graduating from Yale Law School, Hillary flunked the Washington, D.C. bar exam. Her legal career in Arkansas tracked the rise of her husband in state politics. She became an associate at the Rose law firm after Bill was elected attorney general; and a partner when he became governor.
As first lady, Bill Clinton entrusted her with his health care policy. Her team produced an unworkable plan that went nowhere. She spent the rest of her White House years travelling the globe as a good will ambassador, wrote books about children and her cat, and directed the (unsuccessful) defense of her husband against charges of sexual harassment.
In the Senate, Hillary was hard working but undistinguished.
Her main accomplishment was getting federal aid for New York after 9/11— not exactly a heavy lift. She is mostly remembered (negatively by progressives) for voting in favor of the Iraq War, a decision she now calls a mistake.
In 2008, Hillary went into her first presidential race as a very well financed front runner. She mismanaged the campaign and lost to a little known first-term senator.
As Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary presided over a series of diplomatic blunders. She declared a Russian “reset” that never happened. She was a cheerleader for the disastrous ‘Arab Spring’ and the Muslim Brotherhood government that took power in Egypt. She was a key architect of the “lead from behind” invasion of Libya that ended in chaos.
What did Hillary really do as secretary of state? She logged a lot of miles. She says she was “in the room” for the decision to kill Usama bin Laden although it wasn’t her call. And lately she has been saying that she set the table for the Iran nuclear deal. If true, this would be a dubious achievement. And, if she is taking credit for things that happened after she left State, there is the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the rise of ISIS to account for.
Before New Hampshire there were plenty of people, not all of them Democrats, who accepted Hillary’s “experienced and competent” image without thinking much about it. But this week she decided to stake her claim to the White House on her ability to get things done. That invites a skeptical second look. Coupled with her unconvincing progressive remake, this could leave her without a political identity or a credible electoral selling point.