Hillary Clinton gave a speech Thursday slamming four Republican presidential contenders by name and claiming that the GOP is “deliberately trying to stop” young and minority voters. Tough words, sounded good. Played well with an audience that began booing as soon as Gov. Rick Perry’s name left her lips.
It’s all part of a deliberate strategy to shore up the Democratic Party. And it’s necessary, because when we just peel back the paint on her house a little, there aren’t just the usual termites, but a much bigger problem: The House Obama built is crumbling at the foundations.
Under President Barack Obama, Democrats have forfeited white and working-class voters, relying instead on historically high black and Hispanic support. Under Mr. Obama’s leadership, the party hasn’t needed to pay attention to moderate Democrats, middle-class white Democrats, working-class white Democrats. “It’s the economy, stupid,” James Carville once advised President Bill Clinton.
Today, as the economy flounders and falters, that has been replaced with, “It’s the windmills, illegal immigrants, and Kim K’s dad in heels, stupid.” In other words, nothing anyone outside of Los Angeles or New York City cares about. And the results haven’t been pretty.
In the past month alone, the Democratic Party has seen the environmentalists attack the unions, the unions attack the president, the congressional Democrats attack the unions, and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren attack the nominee. Ms. Clinton herself has also attacked the trade deal she helped set up for the president. That’s the president who is under attack from the unions. Over the trade deal. The trade deal she helped set up.
As Mr. Obama once said, “You can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig.”
So what’s the plan? So far, it seems, ignore reality and rally the base.
Ignore the last eight years of a struggling Democrat-run economy and millions your family has collected in speaking fees: Preach income inequality again.
Ignore historically high minority voter participation levels, your adopted home state’s own no-early voting laws, and eight years of a black president: Preach black disenfranchisement again.
Ignore the years you spent helping the administration promote a trade bill: Preach, well, whatever Ms. Warren says next.
And a few emails celebrating high school lesbian couples should suffice to keep New York City and Hollywood contented.
But Mr. Obama so successfully dominated his party because when Ms. Clinton unexpectedly lost the 2008 primary, he was able to keep his own elite talent, hire on the good from the old party, and send the bad ones to cable news. He then used his own people and organizations to build a movement that, while losing the House, Senate, governorships and nearly everything else, was able to propel him to two terms in the White House. From angelic magazine covers to “Hope and Change,”Mr. Obama’s movement has been all about Mr. Obama from start to finish.
Is Ms. Clinton the candidate who can succeed him in the White House? Discontent within the base, and the notable lack of enthusiasm even among Clinton family allies point toward no. With the president’s talent fleeing to the private sector and foreign campaigns, the reborn Democratic Party is looking more and more like Macedonia: Sure, Alexander the Great will be remembered for what he accomplished, but who came after him, again?