Let’s be honest: If you are a googly-eyed supporter of Hillary Clinton 2016, chances are you are enthralled by her candidacy because of who her husband is or because she is a woman.
That may sound sexist, but the reality is that Hillary Clinton’s record contains nothing in it that would inspire passionate devotion. She is also not the leader of some movement or cause, like Elizabeth Warren, that arouses intense loyalty. So what else explains her overwhelming support for the Democratic nomination other than a consuming desire by her supporters to see the first female President of the United States, with Bill Clinton as her top consigliere?
If this narrative offends you, just take a dispassionate look at Clinton’s record. Her Senate career, for instance, contains few shining moments. It’s not that she was necessarily a bad senator. It’s just that she was an unexceptional one.
“As a U.S. senator, she was the first lady to be elected to this office,” liberal commentator Leslie Marshall wrote last year trying to spin Clinton’s lackluster Senate record by first noting something that isn’t exactly a substantive accomplishment. Marshall went on to list Clinton’s securing of funds for the World Trade Center development site and her backing of two pieces of legislation that didn’t pass (one to increase the size of the military, one to create a video games rating system) as her most notable Senate accomplishments.
If that’s the best your supporters can come up with after 8 years in the Senate, we are not talking about a Senate career for the history books. Indeed, in 2007, the liberal blog Daily Kos documented just how average and unimpressive Clinton’s Senate record was, both in terms of leadership and effectiveness.
But not all Senate accomplishments come in the form of legislation. Sometimes it’s the stands you make that define you, even if they aren’t ultimately successful. Clinton didn’t have many of those, though there was the time she essentially called General David Petraeus a liar when he testified — correctly — on the initial success of the Iraq surge. In his memoir, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reported that Clinton’s attack on the greatest general of our era and America’s successful surge strategy in Iraq was motivated purely by politics. “Hillary told the president that her opposition to the  surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary,” he wrote.
How about that for a profile in courage to base a presidential campaign on? Let’s put it this way: You could make a good case that Clinton’s Senate legacy pales in comparison to Mike Gravel’s.
Then we have Clinton’s time as secretary of state. When you ask Hillary Clinton supporters what she accomplished at Foggy Bottom, many aren’t able to name a single achievement. Flailing to come up with a substantive success, others will point to the fact she traveled over 900,000 miles, thereby confusing an achievement for the job description.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof sought to defend Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state as consequential in a 2014 column by noting her use of Twitter and Facebook.
“So, sure, critics are right that Hillary Rodham Clinton never achieved the kind of landmark peace agreement that would make the first sentence of her obituary,” he wrote. “But give her credit: She expanded the diplomatic agenda and adopted new tools to promote it — a truly important legacy.”
Take that John Quincy Adams. This is the best Hillary Clinton supporters can come up with?
Not quite. Some Clinton boosters will point to her role in opening up Burma as a historic accomplishment. Except, as Kristof himself reported last year, the “country imposes on the Rohingya Muslim minority an apartheid that would have made white supremacists in South Africa blush.”
Call me crazy, but “Hillary Clinton 2016: Because She Helped Usher In An Apartheid That Would Make White Supremacists In South Africa Blush,” doesn’t strike me as a winning campaign slogan.
By the time Clinton left the State Department in 2013, the world was a mess, from the Middle East to Russia, and beyond. All the world’s problems can’t be pinned at Hillary Clinton’s feet, obviously. But you would think that a secretary of state who wants to be president could point to something notable he or she accomplished while America’s top diplomat, no?
Well, perhaps Clinton does have one “achievement” that history won’t soon forget. She was reportedly the pivotal figure in pushing President Obama to authorize military force against Libya, which ultimately led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. The result of that campaign has been the creation of safe haven for terrorists in Libya and the destabilization of Mali. So a fair assessment of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state would have to give her credit for helping make an already dangerous world a little more so.
But wait — there’s more! Clinton’s lack of accomplishment on substantive policy issues is matched by her unaccomplished political career.
Clinton entered elective politics at the tale end of her husband’s presidency when she decided to run for U.S. Senate in New York. She won. But a trashcan could get elected to the U.S. Senate from New York if it was married to Bill Clinton and was running against a guy whose most notable political achievement would come a decade later when he somehow lost a Republican gubernatorial primary in a landslide to a political gaffe machine of a candidate.
In 2007, Hillary Clinton actually got a real opponent, or at least an opponent with some political talent, in Barack Obama. Despite being the prohibitive favorite at the start of the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, with all the connections and financial advantages that come with being the wife of a popular former Democratic president, Clinton lost to Obama. Could it be Hillary Clinton just isn’t the political talent the media likes to pretend she is?
During her media tour last summer to promote her memoir about her time as secretary of state, “Hard Choices,” Clinton’s political tin ear was on full display, most famously when she absurdly lamented how she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001. One should expect more clunkers when Clinton finally officially enters the 2016 White House race, which she apparently keeps putting off, most likely because her advisers know she is a far better pretend candidate than actual one.
Given her less than terrific record of accomplishment, why are so many Democrats so anxious for a Clinton candidacy? Some probably long for another Clinton presidency, imagining the 1990s as the halcyon days of yore, but it’s hard to avoid the reality that the main reason is because Hillary Clinton is best positioned to be the first female president of the United States.
Maybe “A Vote for Hillary is a Vote for History” will be enough to usher in a Hillary Clinton presidency. She better hope it is — because her actual record leaves much to be desired.