Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's On Hillary Clinton's Mind?

So what are we to make of Hillary’s outburst?
“My husband is not Secretary of State, I am. If you want my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband.”

On the surface, it’s obvious. Hillary Clinton is an ambitious woman with a huge ego. But for most of her career, she has been obscured by her husband’s shadow. With Bill being praised for his solving the North Korea journalist situation, a situation that normally would fall within the purview of her current position, her outburst could merely represent her frustration at being shown up, once again, by her buffoonish husband.

But there is something much deeper here, both for Hillary and for the Democratic party. This outburst likely represent the realization that Hillary has made a huge mistake by agreeing to join Obama’s administration, because she has been minimized, marginalized, and irrelevant-ized. Indeed, by all appearances, she is the least independent, least powerful, and least relevant Secretary of State the country has known in our lifetimes. And, in politics, appearance is everything. Thus, her mistake likely has killed off any chance she has of being elected President.

This situation actually has its roots in 1992. When Bill was elected President, Hillary thought she had been given carte blanche to exercise Bill’s power as a co-president. But her attempts to exercise that power disintegrated under a wave of public criticism that she had not been elected, only Bill had been elected.

Thus, once Bill was safely out of the way, she set out to claim an electoral mandate of her own so that she herself could one day exercise power. And she chose to get that mandate by becoming a United States Senator from New York. But her ultimate goal was always to become the President, not merely a junior senator. Thus, she subsumed her ideological desires to gain a reputation in the Senate as a moderate, in the belief that this would make her palatable to the majority of the American people by defusing the image of her as a socialist, an image that was formed in the health care taskforce debacle.

What she did not count on, however, was that her party would go insane and would seek to nominate not the most experienced or most reasonable or most electable candidate, but would reach out to the candidate promising the most extreme left-wing policies. Thus, while she sold herself as an electable moderate, Obama ran far to her left and knocked off her lethargic campaign. He then went on to defeat John McCain who, to this day, has never been able to articulate a reason for anyone to vote for him.

After this shocking upset, Hillary made her next mistake: she listened to the press, which circulated the idea that she had lost because she had no foreign policy experience. Thus, when Obama offered her the position as Secretary of State, she saw an opportunity to check that box on her resume. Sadly, for her, she did not see the danger.

For Obama, it turns out, is perhaps the most Machiavellian politician the United States has ever produced. He saw the appointment of Hillary as an opportunity to eliminate a possible competitor by stripping his party of a leader that could oppose his agenda. Thus, he appointed her, and promptly tucked her away into the bowels of the State Department, far away from her former political organization and without the power to raise funds or speak her mind. Moreover, to prevent her from gaining the experience she sought and then leaving to lead an opposition, he immediately set about stripping her position of all useful authority. No sooner had her rear end hit the chair, than Obama began appointing special envoys to handled all of the complex and high-profile foreign policy matters normally handled by the Secretary of State. Even Biden was sent to key meetings instead of Hillary. . . slow Joe Biden.

Finally, to solve the North Korea issue, a relatively minor issue in the diplomatic scheme of things, Obama sent Bill Clinton, the very man whose shadow Hillary had been trying to escape, to very publicly achieve what she could not. Obama and Clinton further praised this as a purely private effort, even though it was not, wrongly suggesting that the State Department was irrelevant to resolving this matter.

Thus, not only has Obama stripped Hillary of her political organization, of her base, of her fund raising ability, and of her political voice, but he deprived her of the foreign policy experience she craved and he shoved her right back into Bill Clinton’s shadow. Effectively, Obama has smothered her political aspirations.

But Hillary is not alone. One by one, Obama has co-opted each of the people who might challenge him and made them disappear into the machinery. Governors, Congressmen, and even a few Republicans have all vanished into the bureaucracy. The effect on the Democratic party is actually quite corrosive. While this means initially that they are more unified than is their custom, it also means that they no longer have any leaders waiting in the wings to replace Obama when his term expires. Indeed, if Obama chose to leave politics today, ask yourself who among the Democrats has the stature to run a national campaign to replace him.

It is an odd strategy to destroy your friends to keep them from becoming your enemies, but that seems to be the planning coming from the White House.

Moreover, the Obama people seem quite content to risk the political careers of many young moderate Democrats by forcing votes on issues like cap and trade and the absurd health care reform, which will not satisfy their base but will enrage everyone to the right of Nancy Pelosi. One must wonder, whether Obama would not rather see these moderates -- natural opponents to his agenda -- fail and be replaced by Republicans than to face dissent from his own party? Perhaps, so long as he can keep a workable majority of liberals, he thinks it’s wise to cull these moderate friends?

Whatever is going on, now is not a good time to be an Friend Of Obama.

** As an aside, it turns out that the questioner did not ask about Bill's opinion; the question was mistranslated. He asked about Obama's opinion. I guess the universe does love a good joke now and then. . . Bill, by the way, spent his birthday in Vegas, without Hillary.


patti said...

like minds brother. i wrote on the same thing, excerpt my entry was snarkier (surprise!) it's gotta suck being them. how they fight over that spotlight. me! NO ME!!

fyi: as i type these words, i am listening to barry at his town meeting. i can not believe the lies spilling from his lips and the excited clapping of the hand-picked angry mob. as of this he is raging against insurers. blech.

Joel Farnham said...

To be fair to Ms Clinton, she could have been given an offer she couldn't refuse.

LawHawkSF said...

Of course she isn't channeling her husband. She's too busy channeling Eleanor Roosevelt.

AndrewPrice said...

patti, I just read your entry, very snarky! I approve! I'm also listening to his town hall lie fest. Shameless.

Joel, Call me crazy, but I don't think it took much of an offer to get Hillary to jump at the chance to pad her resume.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, she can't channel Bill because he's in Vegas and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, even if you hire a medium.

ArmChairGeneral said...

"Sleeping in past 2am isn't all that bad"

"Communism it is not just for liberals anymore"

"I wonder what Bill will bring me home this time?"


"Health Care Reform. Yeah, that's what we're calling it."

CrisD said...

Hey, she's a head case and a rage-aholic! Awesome recap of her Freudian outburst!

But IMO, neither she nor Barry were qualified for the job. The dems made a calculated decision to sell him and dump her.

Coalition of inner city (thanks acorn), profs and students and limousine liberals...Dems sold the country down the river...

LL said...

Very astute analysis, well written. (high praise from me)

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks LL, I will accept high praise any time! :-)

CrisD, I'm glad you liked it. I thought it was particularly humorous that the question that triggered the outburst wasn't even the real question! LOL! I agree that neither she nor Obama were qualified, but I don't think people cared much in this election. When you present people with a blank slate as a candidate, they tend to fill in all the blanks. It's a disturbing human trait.

ArmchairGen, sounds like you've got the place bugged?

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew, I agree that she accepted quickly.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - as usual, your piece is a very astute assessment of H.R.C. In fact, I really have no real disagreements, but for the sake of argument will offer the following observations for what they are worth:

1) I'm not sure the Democratic Party went insane. At the time, H.R.C. was seen as a lightning rod for conservative anger, so there was concern over her electability. Obama was historic, did a clever job of masking his real liberalism to a non-inquisitive press. There was a real fear of Clinton fatigue as well. Dems were fooling themselves that "O" would bring REAL change.Great comment on McCain, BTW!

2) I'm not so sure Obama sent Bill at his own choosing. I have heard Kim Jong Il did this for the specific purpose of embarrassing the administration by demanding Clinton. Don't know if true, though.

3) Although, she is wounded, they ARE the come back Clintons. She won more votes than anyone in primary history. If "O" really starts to tank, she resigns due to irreperable differences, and starts to lead the "moderate" Democratic opposition. I'm not saying it is likely, but I don't entirely discount it either.

LawHawkSF said...

Maybe it's a different version of what I used to tell my law clerks: "When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Never write anyone off in this day and age, but Hillary has handicapped herself in a big way. Not only does she no longer have a base, an organization, or a funding machine, but her resume padding has backfired.

Rather than dispelling concerns that she is not ready to handle foreign leaders, her current experience seems to reinforce the idea that she's not the best representative for America.

It's like stepping to the plate to disprove claims that you can't bat, and then striking out.

In terms of going insane, we have to look at things as they stood when Obama first gained traction, not as they turned out. Obama was a junior senator from nowhere that no one gave chance. It was supposed to be a cakewalk for Hillary.

But she ran an emotionless campaign that tried to reach the middle rather than endear the base, and they fell out of love with her. That's when Obama started making promises to them that they wanted to hear -- close Gitmo day 1, bring troops home from Iraq within 90 days, etc.

They heard what they wanted and they jumped ship, even though few gave him a chance (In fact, I'd bet that no one was more surprised than Obama, who I think was aiming for the next election).

The idea that he could be elected came later, once the media started paying attention to "his" speeches, and became smitten.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew, you might be on to something. I always felt that Obama didn't think he could win. His appointments are more from Hillary's camp than anyone else.

Remember he didn't appoint most of his staff by the immaculation. Compare that to Bush. Bush started to get people together openly by the middle of November 2000. (Which annoyed the dems to distraction.) Obama was not ready on day one. Not like Bush.

I think it came as a total surprise to Obama. Some Chicago style tactics were used against Hillary during the primaries. When it showed that Hillary was vulnerable, well........

StanH said...

Andrew did you write criminal profiles for the FBI in a former life, good overview of the Hildabeast. But I do agree with Jed never count out the Clintons, I know he was being the devils advocate, just saying. If I were Bill I’d be in Vegas as well, it probably is not much fun at the Clinton household.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I used to solve these weird cases for the X-Files until they replaced me with David Duchovney. Oh wait, that never happened. Never mind, forget I said that. :-)

I don't count anyone out, but as I note, she's really tossed hurdles into her own path.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, It's not at all uncommon for people to run for President for a variety of purposes without ever expecting to win.

Sometimes they want to advance one issue, sometimes they are hoping to raise their profile. I think Obama ran because he thought it would help him run down the road. When the other guys all fell out and Hillary stumbled, it honestly struck me that he was stunned to find himself in the lead.

He certainly took advantage of the moment, but I don't think he really thought it was coming this early in his career.

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