The key thing about conventional political wisdom is that it is usually wrong. This idea that the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton is “inevitable” is wide of the mark. In fact her survival to the finish line is dubious. The Clintonistas and their dupes in the establishment media may not want to open the magnum of champagne just yet.
Neither the voters nor some in the media want or need a contest. But coronations are not American, and they don’t sell newspapers or generate Web traffic.
Clinton faces multiple challenges and vulnerabilities, and predictions of her coronation are indeed premature. So daunting are her challenges, I’m shocked she appears to be running. Clearly taking a paid speech in the late spring means she intends to milk it and perhaps get in later.
It’s a good idea. She won’t wear well.
More importantly, Mrs. Clinton has nothing to say. Her claim to be “dead broke” shows her isolation from the real world. Her claim that “companies do not create jobs” seems like a sop to the party’s hard left. She has no overarching theme other than it is her turn to be president. Hillary is as stale as 10-day-old bread.
A reporter with a major mainstream political website who traveled with her on the book tour told me she was “trapped in the past. … Much of her motive was revenge” against those who haven’t paid the Clinton’s due respect for her accomplishments and who have questioned their past activities and potentially criminal actions.
Hillary’s handling of Obama is also problematic. A high level Obama intimate who worked six years to put Obama in the Casa Blanca told me at a recent dinner party that the friction between the Clintons and Obamas are very real. The president’s “endorsement” of Hillary was Obama at his passive-aggressive best. After saying Hillary would be “good president” he talked about “mileage” and the public’s interest in a candidate “with a clean car smell” in response to a question about a woman who will be 69 when she runs for president.
Hillary cannot wander too far from Obama, who is still wildly popular in the party’s base, while seeking the nomination. Yet a full embrace of Obama is potentially poisonous in the general election. The Democrats’ lock on independent, younger and Hispanic voters was broken in the last election. Obama has crumbled with key constituencies.
More problematic is the Clintons’ past behavior. In fact, given the Clintons’ narrow escape in a slew of ethical scandals during the years of Bill’s governorship, presidency and post-presidency, I’d say the Clintons are pressing their luck.
No Clinton has been on the national general election ballot since 1996. More than half of registered voters have no memory or knowledge of the Clinton presidency. These voters can be educated during a campaign and everything about the Clintons will be under a magnifying glass. Hillary’s soaring poll numbers are her high watermark. Her role in the Vince Foster death, Travelgate, and Waco will all be on the table. A re-examination will yield many facts not reported at the time. Hillary’s co-presidency is not pretty.
Frank Bruni of The New York Times suggest that “breaking the glass ceiling for women” is the rationale for Hillary’s candidacy. This path is wrought with even greater danger because of the activities of her husband.
**The new public scrutiny of Bill Cosby is also problematic for Bill Clinton. I am not talking about consensual sex but, in some cases accusations of sexual assault, torn clothing, and at least three victims who say he bit their lips as a disarming move and to get them to remain silent. In short, Bill Clinton has a Bill Cosby problem.
Eileen Wellstone, a 19-year-old English woman, said Clinton sexually assaulted her after she met him at a pub near the Oxford where Clinton was a student in 1969. In fact, Clinton was expelled from Oxford and earned no degree there.
Juanita Broaddrick, a volunteer in Clinton’s gubernatorial campaign, said he raped her in 1978. Mrs. Broaddrick suffered a bruised and torn lip, which she said she suffered when Clinton bit her during the rape. Broaddrick gave a stunning interview to NBC’s Lisa Myers about the assault.
Carolyn Moffet, a legal secretary in Little Rock in 1979, said she met Gov. Clinton at a political fundraiser and was invited to his hotel room. “When I went in, he was sitting on a couch, wearing only an undershirt. He pointed at his penis and told me to suck it. I told him I didn’t even do that for my boyfriend and he got mad, grabbed my head and shoved it into his lap. I pulled away from him and ran out of the room,” she said.
Elizabeth Ward Gracen, the Miss Arkansas who won the Miss America crown in 1982, told friends she was forced by Clinton to have sex with him shortly after she won her state title. Gracen later told an interviewer that sex with Clinton was consensual. Her roommate Judy Stokes has said the ex-Miss Arkansas told her she was raped after the incident.
Paula Corbin Jones, an Arkansas state worker, filed a sexual harassment case against Clinton after an encounter in a Little Rock hotel room where the then-governor exposed himself and demanded oral sex. Clinton settled the case with Jones with an $850,000 payment.
Sandra Allen James, a former Washington, D.C., political fundraiser, said Clinton invited her to his hotel room during a political trip to the nation’s capital in 1991, pinned her against the wall and stuck his hand up her dress. She fled.