The votes (real or “found”) haven’t even all been counted yet in the 2018 midterm election travesty, and there’s already a new topic of conversation; namely, who’s going to run for President in 2020?
In a way, I hate to even bring up 2020 right now, thinking it’s enough to make us all reach for the Pepto Bismol. Don’t we ever get a break? But Mark Penn and Andrew Stein have a new piece in the Wall Street Journal predicting that one person definitely will be running against President Trump. It will be a crowded field, to be sure, but there’s one candidate who absolutely won’t be daunted by that and who, according to them, will win the nomination.
It’s Hillary Clinton.
I’ll pause for a moment to let you run and take a swig from that big bottle of Pepto. Okay, are you back? Mark Penn, as you probably know, was a longtime pollster and senior advisor to Bill and Hillary Clinton, all the way from 1995, when Bill was setting up for his re-election bid, to 2008, when Hillary ran the first time. Andrew Stein is a former Manhattan borough president and president of the New York City Council. They recommend that we not take Hillary seriously when she says she’s not running in 2020, pointing out that she’s well aware both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama said they weren’t running until they were. They say she may enter the race late, perhaps even skipping Iowa, but that “Hillary 4.0” will be upon us in time for the election, one way or another.
Good lord. She’s like the title of that old Saturday Night Live sketch –- back when that show could be actually funny –- “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave.” (cue horror movie scream)
They say that not only will she run, but she will “easily” capture the nomination after reinventing herself once again, this time as the kind of leftist firebrand that today’s Democrats want. They describe this metamorphosis as more of a case of her coming full circle, back to the fiery liberal who pushed government-run health care –- remember Hillarycare, complete with its own convenient little card? –- in 1994. I would suggest that even back then, she was trying to keep under wraps just how far left she had been in her college and law school days as “Hillary Rodham.” This early Hillary is finally free to “come out,” as Democrats aspiring to high office are finally revealing how far-left they are. In fact, extreme leftism seems to be a prerequisite.
When Hillary first ran for the Senate in 1999 (strategically choosing New York; it should be noted that she and Bill bought the house in Chappaqua to establish residence), her platform sounded downright Republican: support for a balanced budget, the death penalty and incremental health care reform. She was a Methodist who supported Israel and the Iraq war, and was an Iran hard-liner. Penn and Stein call this version “Hillary 2.0” --- positioning herself as a moderate Democrat, promising to work for New York and to build on the success of her positive “It Takes A Village” approach. At that time, she was well served by this centrist version of herself and was easily re-elected to the Senate in 2006.
But she was not well served by it in her first race for the Presidency in 2008, when Obama suddenly came on the scene. Progressives abandoned her. Blacks, of course, abandoned her. And even though she got more primary votes than Obama did, he dominated in states with the caucus system --- some said he took them over --- and swung those party activists his way to become the nominee.
She served as secretary of state under Obama but was obviously plotting her comeback. (I would add that her longterm political goals surely had a lot to do with the vast millions brought in by the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative, and also with her secretiveness concerning all of her email communications. She knew even then that, given her activities, transparency was not going to be her friend.) Penn and Stein say that this is the period when “Hillary 3.0” evolved; she positioned herself as a social and cultural progressive like Obama to try to take the baton in 2016. When socialist Bernie Sanders dared to enter the primaries against her, she moved herself farther left. (I would also add that thanks to the exposure of hacked and/or leaked emails, we know that she was working with the DNC to guard the nomination for herself.)
Penn and Stein argue that this more progressive version of Hillary won her the Democratic primary but hurt her against Trump. She won the “coastal elites” who had eluded her in 2008, but she lost the support of many white working-class voters who might have supported a more moderate Hillary. She had the support of the New York Times –- which had abandoned her in 2008 for Obama –- but she lost the support of Midwest voters. Her failure to even campaign in key Midwestern states while taking their votes for granted did not help her, either.
But Hillary didn’t understand WHAT HAPPENED, even though she wrote a book by that title. She blamed a lot of things, mostly Russia, and the media took up the charge. So did House and Senate Democrats and even top FBI officials. Willfully misunderstanding the purpose of the Electoral College, she still believes that since she won the popular vote, she was robbed and is the rightful President. According to Penn and Stein, “she will not allow this humiliating loss at the hands of an amateur to end the story of her career.” She probably won’t be one of the first to announce, but announce she will.
This will be “Hillary 4.0.” Hillary the avenger. Hillary “the strong, partisan, left-leaning and all-Democrat –- the one with the guts, experience and steely-eyed determination to defeat Mr. Trump.” They say her model for this comeback campaign will be, ironically, Richard Nixon in his comeback from losing to John F. Kennedy in 1960 and winning the Presidency in 1968. The plan will be to mobilize an army of professional women behind her, leveraging her social networks and raking in donations. (She does know how to do that.) She’ll be running on gun control and universal health care.
They also say she’ll be capitalizing on the #MeToo movement, though one has to wonder if voters have memories THAT short. It was quite recently that Hillary had the nerve to weigh in on the Bill-and-Monica affair, no longer denying it (because she can’t) but dismissing it as not an abuse of power because Monica “was an adult.” I believe that most members of #MeToo would strongly disagree with that assessment, and Monica herself is on the record as having done so.
Penn and Stein don’t mention a couple of major factors. First, Hillary still appears to be concealing health problems of some kind, perhaps serious. She’ll be well into her seventies, too. Some leaders in their seventies --- Donald Trump, for example --- seem to have boundless energy. It seems all she can do to walk up a few steps.
Also, for her to remain viable, the lid will have to be sealed on the investigations into Hillary’s activities, most notably her illegal email server and the coordination of her State Department activities with Clinton Global Initiative fundraising. Of course, the newly Democratic House will be doing all it can to accomplish that. Adam Schiff, chairman-in-waiting of the House Intelligence Committee, has already said he wants to close investigations that were started to examine “deep state” corruption that affected the 2016 election. In an editorial on Friday, the Wall Street Journal said this “puts an additional onus on Mr. Trump to declassify key FBI and Justice documents sought by Mr. Nunes and other House investigators before Mr. Schiff buries the truth.” They were referring primarily to documents relating to Trump and the FISA applications, but at some point Trump needs to release all the Hillary material, too. Until then, we’ll all be chugging the Pepto.