Hillary Clinton has ever been the hard worker, the diligent memorizer of briefing books. But “unleashed” is not her forte. Perhaps, as some in the media claim, she is afraid of making a mistake. But maybe she is not a natural politician and needs a script, a plan and a barrier between her and the media. And hence the problem in the 24/7, social media world.
Clinton unscripted is a gaffe machine. Her lifestyle (e.g. “broke”) and worldview (late support for gay marriage) don’t sit well with most Americans in 2014. She winds up sounding out of touch financially and culturally behind the times. It doesn’t help that her book is so lacking in content that she doesn’t have much to talk about except herself. Even since 2008, social media and the speed of viral stories have accelerated. There is literally nothing Clinton says or refuses to say that doesn’t get picked up and picked apart.
Clinton says she is having the time of her life. She is “liberated” to say what is on her mind. Funny — she doesn’t look like she is having much fun. She gets testy in interviews and bristles when her talking points don’t suffice.
But let’s get real: Clinton is not unleashed at all. She can’t give an opinion on the Keystone XL pipeline because . . . because why? There is no logical distinction between that issue and hundreds of others she worked on during her tenure. But oh, Keystone is a lightning rod on the left, so better not answer that.
She is hardly unleashed. This is Hillary Clinton, forever cautious and evasive, never ahead of the parade. That’s a problem for a left-wing party that wants to be on the forefront of statist policy and expects its leaders to embrace social change fast.
I suspect that there will be more questions Clinton can’t and won’t answer, but reporters should nevertheless try. Her lack of candor is revealing, and by chance she might try to tackle one of these questions:
Did she foresee a crisis in light of the one we’re seeing in Iraq, and if so, why wasn’t she able to reach a deal on the Status of Forces agreement?
Where on the planet did the life of women and girls improve on her watch?
Does she believe in race-based admissions for minority students for colleges and universities?
Is there any limit on abortion or any regulation she would approve?
Each of these questions touches on articles of faith among Democrats — foreign policy, race and abortion on demand. If she plays to the base, sticking close to the noninterventionist, race-centric, abortion-on-demand views of liberal Democrats, she’ll risk losing support in the general election. If she shows her moderate side — which may necessitate criticizing foreign policy decisions and priorities with which she disagrees — she may get a challenge from the left.
Clinton’s husband was expert at both satisfying the base and reaching beyond it. She is not as fleet-footed. The default position I strongly suspect will be to try to evade questions. That might work for a while. But then the Hillary “unleashed” meme will have to go.