SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

August 6, 2013

Hillary not a shoo-in 4 me


Hillary Clinton is popular, but what has she done?

     Jonah Goldberg

“I think she’s one of the most fascinating women of our time and this world,” confessed Bob Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC, as part of his announcement that his network is making a miniseries about Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with Diane Lane in the starring role.

Words are funny things. For instance, G.K. Chesterton once remarked that that the word good has many uses: “For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of 500 yards, I should call him a good shot but not necessarily a good man.”

So it is, I suppose, with the word fascinating. Given the perpetual soap opera revolving around the Clintons, I can understand the fascination with Mrs. Clinton. But while a soap opera can make for a compelling spectacle, that doesn’t mean every character in it is compelling in his or her own right.

Quick: Can you think of a single truly interesting thing Hillary Clinton has ever said?

Before you answer, let me narrow the terms. Wildly implausible statements about how she parlayed pocket change into $100,000 in the commodities markets simply by reading The Wall Street Journal don’t count. Neither do her explanations of how her Whitewater billing records miraculously appeared out of thin air in the most secure building in America. Nor do her explanations of how and why she stuck by her husband.

  • What I mean is: Have you ever heard her speak, as a politician in her own right, and been wowed by her eloquence or floored by her insights or even particularly impressed by her raw political skill?
  • I’m hard-pressed to think of any examples. I suppose her famous dismissal of any interest in how, on her watch, four Americans were murdered by terrorists — “What difference, at this point, does it make?!” — could count as fascinating in its brazen indifference and staggering cynicism. But c’mon.

The simple fact, by my lights at least, is that Hillary Clinton is not a compelling personality in her own right. Even Bill Clinton’s harshest critics have to concede that he was a masterful politician, a jazz impresario mixing deep insights, policy minutiae and folksy cornpone peppered with compelling half-truths and daring outright lies. Barack Obama isn’t nearly as gifted as Bill was on the stump or in the back-rooms, but the man has political talent. Hillary’s a very solid policy wonk, but the only thing that makes her a rock star is that people keep calling her one.

  • The same goes for her career. Quick: What has the woman done? As a lawyer, what important cases did she win? As a first lady, her only major “accomplishment” was a failed health-care-reform scheme that didn’t even get a vote in the Senate. As a carpetbagging senator from New York, what historic legislation did she shepherd? Most of her party, including the president, repudiates her vote for the Iraq war. Pretty much the only thing her biggest supporters can tout about her tenure as secretary of state is that she “traveled a million miles,” which strikes me as the ultimate triumph of quantity over quality (particularly given the hot mess that is American foreign policy).

In other words, what fascinates me is the fascination with Hillary. I don’t deny that it exists, I just don’t think she warrants it. Also, I don’t think finding Hillary Clinton deeply interesting necessarily means there’s a deep interest out there in the American public to see her become president. Huma Abedin, the humiliated wife of Anthony Weiner, is interesting for many of the same reasons Hillary is; that doesn’t add to Abedin’s qualifications for high office.

And this is one reason why I think all of the talk about Hillary’s “inevitability” is misplaced. Yes, she’s way ahead in the polls. But she’s also been out of the line of fire in domestic partisan politics for a long time. That softens people’s attitudes until they are given a reason to change them. (George W. Bush’s popularity has gone up markedly for similar reasons.) When the Benghazi scandal was in the news, her favorability dropped. You can be sure it’ll happen again if she runs and stakes out positions.

Sure, the smart money is on her to win the Democratic nomination if she runs. But, then again, the same smart money went to Clinton in 2008. Clinton lost to Obama for several reasons, some of them tactical. But trumping all of the others was that Obama was a more compelling candidate.

And that’s Clinton’s Achilles’ heel: Candidates matter.

Jonah Goldberg is editor at large of National Review Online.

(My Comment:

Kudos to Mr. Goldberg,  I couldn’t agree more with the concept of his article.   I too have been stymied, endlessly as to why so many feel Hillary is “inevitable.”    I have written my opinions on this before, explaining that I was not in favor of Hillary for president in 2016.. . . that I am opposed to this ridiculous “dynasty” thing.  We’ve had two Bushes and some people keep suggesting Jeb.  True, he may be the best of the lot and is definitely a good man, fine politician – – but why?  I agree with Barbara Bush completely – – give some other family a chance. We should not be trying to establish “Royal families.”     

But I don’t really want to go into all that again, having pretty well opined on the same issue in another post dated  April 21, 2013 called “We’re Sour on Economy” – in my comment there.      There isn’t a question of whether Hillary is a competent and worthy person or politician.  She is all that. One thing is for sure, absolutely – – no one deserves to be the nominee because it is his or her turn!  I too, would appreciate a woman, but not this woman.  For me, she isn’t what we need.  Her judgement on the hardline war issue is highly relevant to me and and projects  a quality of her mind which is not to my liking.   There seems not a hint of populism about her.  She seems to want to project how tough she can be.  I get that and even why.   But,  not good.   Far too many people are hurting in our land, for so many reasons.   I thought Obama got that, but in fact, he isn’t driven by it.  His easy  offering of the reduction of COLA for Social Security gave that away! 

When I was a child,  FDR was my president.  I loved listening to his “radio chats” even tho I probably didn’t understand most of it.  I kinda strained trying to understand the difference between my president and God,  he was seen as such a great benefactor.  Current population can’t possibly know how much this great man was loved.  Fully cognizant that I  speak from a romanticized memory of what was,  even so, one could hope that a president would be so committed to his country’s people that he or she would do whatever it takes to insure fairness, equality and justice to all of us alike.  We don’t require that our president drive himself into his deathbed with strain and over-work as FDR had to do, but at the very least, to protect and serve his people, not the special interests as has become the custom so visible in this 21st century.   

As I spoke in the prior post – We’re Sour on Economy,  I know who I would like.  I believe she could be America’s answer for a type of ‘Political Mother Teresa’ who is grounded, smart, both gentle yet strong – – has a proven record of getting stuff done.  This of course, is Elizabeth Warren.  If she could  be persuaded,  she has all the qualities plus the fortitude to get the job done.  Yes siree. . . .I would put it all on her.        But what do I know, . . .just a blogger.   Jan)


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