No one knows for sure whether Hillary Clinton will run again in 2020. But she’s been working mighty hard to remind us why she shouldn’t.
Last week, Clinton stopped by the podcast of Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, and the Daily Beast, to talk about Trump, the 2020 race, and, of course, her 2016 loss. If nothing else, it was a vivid tour through the alternate reality that Democrats and other liberal elites have continued to occupy since Trump’s victory more than two years ago.
It’s hard to know where to start. Why did Trump win? It was, Clinton suggests, because the “Republican moderate independent women voter in the suburbs” hewed to a “stereotype about what a leader looks like” (i.e., a man), something she argues they had changed their minds about as of the midterms.
But it’s worth noting this is exactly the same group of voters Clinton’s campaign famously and disastrously assumed they would win back in 2016, confident they could simply ignore blue-collar voters and avoid making a substantive case to the party’s un-enthused base. But more than this, it’s a reminder that elite Democrats, obsessed with the most superficial aspects of politics — visuals, physical appearance, and symbolism over actual ideology and material realities — imagine every voter shares this obsession. Meanwhile, back in reality, Trump has maintained a sky-high approval rating among Republicans to this day, largely because he’s delivered exactly what the party’s base desires.
“The trouble with beating Trump is, it is so much more than a political calculation,” said Brown. “The only thing that’s important is the visuals almost of that debate stage. You know, he’s big, he’s a big lowering guy. … It’s not even a political calculation as much as who has got the physicality, the presence to be on that stage with Trump.”
In the make-believe world Democrats have constructed for themselves since 2016, the buffoonish, physically awkward Trump has become some kind of formidable masculine ideal who can only be bested if one can physically match him. It’s a strange, inadvertently sexist talking point that oddly plays into the same offensive tropes it claims to reject.
It goes on like this. Nancy Pelosi, we’re told, is the modern Lyndon Johnson, a comparison in some ways more accurate and less flattering than intended. We learn that Amy Klobuchar’s alleged mistreatment of her staff — which, despite what some pundits will tell you, is less about her being a demanding, abrasive boss than about throwing objects at her underlings, ritually humiliating and professionally retaliating against them, and punishing them for taking parental leave — is really just part of the media’s need to adjudicate the “likeability” of women politicians. Clinton, who once passed through the fire of what she called a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and called Republicans her “enemies,” now says she’s “stunned” by the GOP’s loyalty to Trump.
“I really miss John McCain,” she said. “He was willing to stand up and take on Trump.” This is the same John McCain who died voting with Trump 83 percent of the time and whose very last political act was to make sure his seat in Congress would be filled until 2020 by someone loyal to the president.
Clinton, who says she has “immersed myself in every academic study” and “independent, well-researched analysis” of what happened in 2016, still believes her team “ran a good campaign” that was derailed by fake news, Russian bots, and Cambridge Analytica. She must have missed the study that found few people were consuming news from social media during the election. Or the one that found fake news mostly reached “intense partisans” and even then had little reach. Or the many others that suggest the panic over fake news and its supposed mind-bending powers are, at least right now, way overhyped.
At another point, Clinton charges that Putin “clearly favored” Bernie Sanders in the campaign, because he “had a long history of being very favorable toward Russia.” It’s not clear what Clinton is referring to in the latter part of that remark (perhaps she’s been reading the same conservative and Russian-funded media she claims to despise). But as for the first part of her statement, it is demonstrably untrue, and in fact, one of the very “independent” and “well-researched” reports Clinton claims to have “immersed” herself in states outright that “there is little evidence to suggest that during the primaries, these [Russian-originating social media] campaigns were focused on ongoing political campaigns by Clinton, Sanders, or Trump.”
Clinton and her host both agreed that “there was really nothing to” the email leaks that dogged her campaign. “What was the great revelation? That some people working in the Democratic National Committee didn’t particularly like Bernie, who’d never been a Democrat?” she asked. “What does this have to do with who wants to be a better president?”
One can’t fault Clinton for being dishonest about what those emails showed, given how damaging the revelations were, but since it wasn’t even three years ago, it’s worth remembering their content. To name a small fraction of the highlights, they showed: the supposedly neutral DNC working to limit the number of debates to benefit Clinton; Clinton privately disparaging progressive activists to wealthy donors and taking markedly different stances on policy with them than in public; Clinton’s ties to a private equity executive who planned to hijack Americans’ retirement savings; illegal co-ordination between the campaign and super PACs; and much more.
For good measure, Clinton also let us know what she would have done had she been serving in the Senate when Amazon’s now-scuttled deal with New York was made. In classic Clinton style, she offered two non-committal, contradictory answers, saying she “might have very well stepped in and tried to fight for a better deal and a better communications and rollout strategy around the deal that was struck.” But in any case, it was great New York was becoming a “much more tech-friendly city” — ignoring the fears around gentrification that formed the basis for the anti-Amazon efforts.
It’s true that beating up on Clinton at this point is like playing basketball against a third grader: too easy and kind of cruel. The trouble is, Clinton’s out-of-touch politics and alternate reality aren’t unique to her, but are shared by a whole galaxy of liberal political elites, including her former underlings who continue to wield political power and influence.
Even if Clinton declines to enter the race, expect to hear these talking points recycled over the next two years by her acolytes, many of whom are now working for other presidential contenders. Just remember that the next time the Left gets accused by establishment liberals of ignoring reality, it is, as always, a case of projection.