Apparently bored with the fact that the Obama administration is involved in multiple Watergate-sized scandals, the mainstream media has decided to launch its newest show, “Hillary Clinton for President 2.0.” News channel talking heads have framed the nascent 2016 presidential campaign as a foregone conclusion. Dixville Notch might as well not even bother this go around. Twenty-sixteen will not be an election, but a coronation.
This is pure bunk. For all the media’s cheerleading for Hillary, she is eminently beatable and far from a sure thing as our next president-elect.
A scouting report on a prospective Hillary candidacy would be remiss to underestimate her assets. Chief among them is her last name, still the most popular brand in Democratic Party politics. With that name comes her husband, and that means a pipeline into an almost limitless supply of campaign cash from wealthy donors. After her stint at Foggy Bottom, she will be framed by the media as a foreign policy expert, in addition to her more than twenty-year reign as Smartest Woman in America (at least according to former Clinton administration officials now working in the news business).
Despite all this, there are three important reasons why Hillary should be taken seriously as an opponent but certainly not feared.
1. She’s Not a Good Campaigner
For all their many flaws, it is undeniable that Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were skilled campaigners. They loved being on the stump, demonstrating their mastery of retail politics at state fairs and reciting talking points with conviction. Not so with Hillary. She is first and foremost a policy wonk, much more comfortable at Senate subcommittee hearings on farm subsidies than feeling the pain of actual farmers. Where Bill could attend a black church service and flawlessly fit in, charisma-challenged Hillary comes off stiff and phony when she puts on a black patois and says things like “I ain’t been no ways tarred.” She was anointed as the inevitable nominee in 2008, and a green freshman senator from Illinois eclipsed her. With all the same assets she will have in 2016, her last run at the presidency was a wet firecracker, and it stemmed from the fact that she simply didn’t excite the electorate. Hillary’s inability to connect with voters on a personal level means the heat for her campaign will come more from newsrooms than passionate voters.
2. Her Track Record
In addition to the Obama fatigue that will no doubt be in full bloom come 2016, there is also the matter of Hillary’s track record as a high-profile cabinet member of an administration that promised so much and delivered very little. For the nearly one million miles she logged flying to grip-and-grins with heads of state, what did all that globetrotting actually yield? The Middle East is as flammable as ever. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to aid the Green Revolution in Iran was squandered. The vaunted “reset” with Russia flopped, and Russo-American relations are at near-Cold War levels of frostiness. Her campaign will no doubt try to paint her as a latter-day Kissinger, but a smart GOP effort could easily poke holes in her lack of accomplishment.
3. Her Scandals
Buckets of them. Going back to her time as First Lady they include (deep breath): Whitewater, Cattlegate, Travelgate, Filegate, Paula Jones, Lincoln Bedroomgate, Chinagate, bimbo eruptions, IRS Tax Auditgate, Lewinsky, Wag the Dog, Vandalgate and Pardongate (exhale). Attempts will surely be made to dismiss these as primarily Bill’s foibles and not an indictment of his long-suffering wife. But consider this: Hillary certainly knew of Bill’s long track record of dalliances. Still, she looked into a camera and blamed it all on a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” If the campaign is about character, that should be fair game.
Those scandals are almost a quarter century old, you say? Plenty of fresh material available, namely Benghazi. The smartest woman in the world was either asleep at the wheel or dangerously naive, and four brave Americans died as a result. Her subsequent complicity in the blame-it-on-the-video scheme was disgraceful. Her “What difference does it make?” testimony should be replayed like the Zapruder film.
More recently, the New York Times‘ scathing article on the Clinton Global Initiative gave us yet another look at the dark side of the Clinton power marriage. Their almost universally-praised compassion for the less fortunate now seems like a thin disguise for an unsavory platform to collect six-figure speaking fees. It will be difficult for Hillary to rail against the one-percenters when schmoozing with them allowed the Clintons to amass a personal fortune.
Should Hillary be regarded as a serious presidential candidate with formidable resources? Of course. But prospective GOP candidates should not buy into the inevitability talk and instead focus on the opportunity to expose her many glaring weaknesses.
(Originally published in 2013.) Brian Lonergan is the host of Liberty Drive, a conservative talk show on Blog Talk Radio at www.blogtalkradio.com/libertydrive. His interview subjects have included Col. Allen West, Ann-Marie Murrell of Politichicks.tv, Fox News contributor Michelle Fields, Keli Carender of Tea Party Patriots, author and 2008 Libertarian vice presidential candidate Wayne Allyn Root, and former KGB general Oleg Kalugin. He earned an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Arizona and a Masters in Communications from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.