As if to demonstrate that she is equally challenged outside the United States as she is within, Hillary Clinton stumbled her way through an interview with Der Spiegel.
She still gets tripped up on her wealth:
SPIEGEL: You recently described your financial situation during the presidency of your husband Bill Clinton as dead broke.
Clinton: Well, when we came out of the White House, we were deeply in debt because of all the legal bills that we owed because of the relentless persecution of my husband and myself, and he had to work unbelievably hard to pay off every single penny of every debt we owed. And we did.
SPIEGEL: Today, you are multimillionaires. Your husband has earned $104 million with his speeches since 2001.
Clinton: We are very grateful for where we are today. But if you were to go back and look at the amount of money that we owed, we couldn’t even get a mortgage on a house by ourselves. In our system he had to make double what he needed in order just to pay off the debt, and then to finance a house and continue to pay for our daughter’s education.
Good golly. They left the White House with book advances and nearly unlimited earning potential. Really, a financial institution out there wouldn’t give the ex-president a mortgage? (Maybe live in a cheaper neighborhood like other Americans who can’t afford a $1.7 million Chappaqua home?)
Then there was there dynasty question:
SPIEGEL: For the past 25 years, there were two families that were very prominent in politics, your family and the Bush family. First George [H.W.] Bush was president for four years, then your husband led the country for eight years, and then George W. Bush was president for eight years. If either you or Jeb Bush were to win the election in 2016, once again a member of these two families would become president. Will the American democracy turn into a monarchy?
Clinton: We had two Roosevelts. We had two Adams. It may be that certain families just have a sense of commitment or even a predisposition to want to be in politics. I ran for president, as you remember. I lost to somebody named Barack Obama, so I don’t think there is any guarantee in American politics. My last name did not help me in the end. Our system is open to everyone. It is not a monarchy in which I wake up in the morning and abdicate in favor of my son.
Roosevelts, Adamses and Clintons: Which one is not like the others? The difference between Hillary Clinton and FDR, just to pick one name and one problem with her answer, is that he had actual accomplishments and a public record of leadership independent of his cousin, Teddy Roosevelt. (FDR was a state legislator and leading opponent of Tammany Hall, assistant secretary of the Navy and New York governor.) Hillary Clinton’s career has been derivative (how else did she get to be senator in a state in which she had not lived) and empty. (Even she has trouble answering the “What’s your biggest accomplishment?” question.) She nevertheless does remind us that when up against a skilled candidate, she lost.
And finally, she was asked about spying on the German leader:
SPIEGEL: Do you think Angela Merkel deserves an apology?
Clinton: Well, it is my understanding that the president and she have talked numerous times.
SPIEGEL: Yes, but no public apology.
Clinton: I’m not in the government anymore, but I’m sorry.
This is odd. Was she part of the decision-making on that? If so, what sort of judgment did she exercise? Unfortunately she never quite lets on as to what she actually knew and didn’t know. This is the sort of “mistakes were made” comment that reveals how thoroughly unwilling she is to accept responsibility for anything specific that went wrong.
Surely there is someone in Hillaryland who sees that the book tour is not going well. Her approval ratings since leaving Foggy Bottom have declined steadily — and no opponent has yet run an ad or made a campaign speech arguing why she shouldn’t be president. (Maybe her supporters think she needs the practice? She needs to get those book sales up?) At any event she is simply creating quotes for her opponents’ attack ads. She might want to take the summer off.