You expect Hillary Clinton to be panned by conservatives. But increasingly she is getting some brutal reviews from, of all places, MSNBC commentators. Mark Halperin broke the news to the network’s liberal audience: “The biggest development in the 2016 race in the last month is Republicans do not fear anything like they did before. She’s never going to be a great candidate. She’s never going to have the fingertip feel of politics of her husband, Barack Obama or George Bush. I think the story to some extent is the people around her failing to prepare her for the most obvious questions imaginable.”
Or maybe they did try to prepare her and she wasn’t receptive. (Worse, could be this be the improved version?)
With no specific GOP opponent journalists covering the lead-up to the 2016 presidential race don’t have much to do but dissect her latest gaffes and try to maintain some suspense in a race with a candidate they’ve been covering for decades. (Will she run? Why can’t she talk about money?) Some rather frank criticism of her from liberal media and mainstream reporters may provoke some Democratic soul-searching. The media critiques take on a life of their own, fueling discontent among some liberals still pining for a true standard bearer. Clinton’s performance of late can’t help but remind them of her cringe-worthy campaign of 2008. She was brittle, unimaginative and un-endearing.
Liberals also complain Hillary Clinton suffers from an “identity crisis.” In fact, this is the amateurish version of her husband’s shape-shifting. He’s always had the uncanny ability to appear moderate to moderates and liberal to liberals. She simply doesn’t have the deftness to pull it off. She simply never developed the ability to instantaneously read her audience and subliminally signal she is “one of them.” Instead you see a calculating pol trying to have it all ways and say (and write) nothing of substance that could be used against her in later policy debates.
In 2008 the junior senator from Illinois came along to rescue the party from her and assure Democrats they could take back the White House in an “historic” election. But now what do they do if Hillary Clinton, as it certainly seems, insists on running? Liberals might be deluded into thinking the GOP will nominate a crank and in essence allow her to win by default, but aside from 1964 the modern GOP has invariably chosen an establishment-friendly mainstream Republican.
Sometimes a candidate is a fast study and can improve with time. But Hillary Clinton has been at this so long — running for office, battling the media, rewriting her past, posing as a victim — and enjoys the ferocious defense of the best Democratic politician of his era (her husband). Given all that, who would even dare sit her down to break the bad news? (You’re bombing. You’re come across like the Marie Antoinette of the Democratic Party.) Even in the last few weeks, with bad reviews raining down on her, she repeats the same error – feigning poverty – over and over again, perhaps because she really believes she was destitute upon leaving the White House and still isn’t “truly rich.”
The bigger problem for Hillary Clinton is that she presents herself as Ms. Competence at a time world events confirm the that foreign policy she put in place – or simply went along with – was the least competent since the Carter presidency. If she does not have the deft political talent and lacks a record she can sell as evidence for her fitness for the presidency, what exactly is she going to run on?
Well, there is always a sense of entitlement – which she hopes translates into a sense of inevitability — and the conviction that her gender will make up for her deficient political skills. That didn’t work in 2008 when she at least had the promise of executive competence. Now with a shoddy record and bored press corps her task becomes even harder. No wonder MSNBC types are angst-ridden.
The first step for Democrats is recognizing the problem. Now they need a plan if Hillary Clinton insists on gutting out another presidential run despite her political deficiencies.