Most of the highlights will be familiar to anyone who follows politics — her varying takes on Bosnia, health care, Wall Street, NAFTA — but the juxtaposition of these ever-shifting views is more jarring than one might expect. Politicians count on Americans’ short attention spans (and memories) as much as they do their own policies and/or charms. This video, inartfully titled “Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight,” clarifies blurred recollections and recasts them in an order that, among other things, reminds us how long the Clintons have been around.
That’s right in several different ways. One is that the video doesn’t capture Clinton “lying” for 13 minutes as its title states. The second, which largely makes the first point irrelevant, is that what the video does do very effectively is remind you that (a) Clinton has been around the political game for a very, very long time and (b) her positions on things like gay marriage, Wall Street regulation/reform and a host of other issues have changed — often markedly — over time.
And those two facts are what make predictions about how Donald Trump simply has no chance against Clinton in the fall so tenuous. As I have written, there’s no question that Clinton — thanks in large part to entrenched demographic and electoral college realities — starts the general election as a favorite and is more likely than Trump to be the 45th president.
But to simply assume that hands the election to Clinton ignores the fact that she is a candidate with major image problems in the eyes of broad swaths of the American public. Large majorities in poll after poll say that they don’t believe that Clinton is honest or trustworthy. Anecdotally, her allies have even admitted lately that she struggles to come across as authentic and connect with voters.
These are not easy problems to solve. Clinton, as the video ably demonstrates, has a very long record of public statements that she will be made to answer for. And, again as the video shows, she has a number of contradictory positions over time.
Clinton will, of course, try to explain away these seeming contradictions as simply an evolution in her thinking over time. It might work, particularly against a candidate like Trump whose numbers on questions of honesty and trustworthiness are even worse than Clinton’s and who is what you find when you look up “flawed messenger” in the dictionary.
But Trump is also two things that Clinton is definitely not: New to politics and perceived as being wholly authentic. Those are two very powerful factors in an election — and with an electorate — like this one. And, as the video shows, there is lots and lots of fodder for Trump to cast Clinton as the ur-example of a pandering politician who doesn’t believe a word she says.
That, too, could work.
Smart Democrats understand that Clinton is far from a flawless candidate and, therefore, writing her inauguration speech today might be somewhat premature. Trump is a very problematic candidate in his own right but does possess strengths that could highlight Clinton’s most glaring weaknesses. Assuming Clinton wins in November totally overlooks that fact.