By Howard Kurtz, ,
Published May 23, 2018
A year and a half after the election, Hillary Clinton still finds herself a political piñata.
President Trump keeps pounding "Crooked H" on Twitter, suggesting that she should still be under investigation.
The media keep portraying her as whining about her election loss—a problem she has certainly contributed to in the past.
The New York Times said yesterday that she "faces distrust on the left, where she is seen as an avatar of the Democratic establishment, and raw enmity on the right."
And she's getting liberal flak for preparing to endorse Andrew Cuomo for reelection–because "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon happens to be running against him.
Clearly, there is no shortage of piling on here.
First, it's ridiculous that the former secretary of State is being criticized for not automatically backing the woman in New York's gubernatorial primary, even though Nixon is a long shot with zero political experience. Cuomo supported Clinton's presidential bid and ran HUD in her husband's administration, so of course she's backing him. Is there some rule that female politicians have to endorse every single woman who jumps into a race, unqualified or not?
Hillary certainly kept alive the notion that she's bitter about her 2016 defeat during her endless book tour. At various times she has blamed the media, Jim Comey, Vladimir Putin, sexism, and women who vote the way their husbands tell them to.
Many Democrats cringed over that last theory and suggested it was time to move on rather than relitigating the last election.
But now it almost doesn't matter what Clinton does. When she gave a commencement speech over the weekend at Yale, which has a tradition of funny hats, she brandished a black Russian hat. It was a joke. Cable had a field day.
In that address, Clinton took shots at Trump, though not by name, and said of the election in a slightly self-deprecating tone: "No, I'm not over it. I still think about the 2016 election. I still regret the mistakes I made."
With those words, at least, she blamed herself and not others. Still, there were a spate of "she's not over it" headlines.
The truth is that's the only Hillary narrative the press is interested in. Journalists don't really care about anything else she has to say. People click on just about anything having to do with her and 2016. So the briefest mention is what makes news.
Clinton supporters say the press allowed John Kerry, John McCain and Mitt Romney to move forward after their losses (though the first two remained senators and the latter is trying to become one).
The Times piece says that Hillary Clinton is cautiously trying to reengage in the midterms, but that her husband has been "all but invisible" and "largely sidelined amid new scrutiny of his past misconduct with women." The #Me-Too era has caused even some liberal commentators to retroactively denounce Bill Clinton. Plus, insiders fear that he could go "wildly off message" in campaign settings.
What's more, many Democrats "worry that the Clinton name reeks of the past and fear that their unpopularity with conservative-leaning and independent voters could harm Democrats in close races." The couple isn't even welcome in Arkansas, where they served as governor and first lady.
Hillary Clinton has a right to speak out, of course, but she has so much baggage that much of her own party is wary of her. And the media, which always had testy relations with her, seem wedded to covering her as a figure from the past.