No Trust for Hillary on the Left

Hillary?  Inevitable?  We’ve heard it before, haven’t we?  In 2007.  Now we’re hearing it again in 2015.  “It’s Hillary’s turn,” say pundits.  Others, scanning the horizon, say, “Who else but Hillary?”

Yet among the Democratic Party’s activist left, Hillary isn’t a cinch.  The left has suspicions about Hillary and those may persist and fester.  Some liberals think that Hillary will say “what she needs to get elected, but would govern differently.”  Remarked CNN political contributor and liberal activist, Sally Kohn, last summer: “You wonder if it is a pivot or whether she [Hillary] is saying what the moment demands.”

Similar to Kohn, the New York Times reported on February 17:

Mrs. Clinton was often criticized by the right as a doctrinaire liberal during her husband’s presidency and, as a presidential candidate, ultimately ran as more of an economic populist than Mr. Obama did. But she is now seen by some on the left as insufficiently tough on Wall Street. That perception, denounced by allies as unfair, has stuck, in part, because of her husband’s policies and because of the lucrative speaking fees she has collected from financial firms and private equity groups since she left the State Department in early 2013. [Emphasis added]

The issue is trust, and even left-wingers suspect that Hillary can’t be trusted; that she’ll say one thing to curry favor with them, and then “pull a Bill” if she gains the White House.  Not that Hillary was much trusted in 2008 by the left or Democrats generally.  The Washington Post reported in April 2008:

Lost in the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign's aggressive attacks on Barack Obama in recent days is a deep and enduring problem that threatens to undercut any inroads Clinton has made in her struggle to overtake him in the Democratic presidential race: She has lost trust among voters, a majority of whom now view her as dishonest.          

Despite a big campaign war-chest, all sorts of establishment backing, and a Who’s Who list of endorsers, Hillary lost the 2008 nomination to a glib, good-looking black guy from Chicago.  The odds of Barack Obama overtaking Hillary for their party’s nomination at the time of his announcement in February 2007: slim to none.  But he appeared to have integrity, while Hillary didn’t.              

2016 isn’t 2008, some say.  The environment is different.  That it is, but not to Hillary’s favor.  Democratic Party left-wingers aren’t insensible to practical politics or the problems that Hillary poses.

Obama fatigue will be quite evident come November 2016.  That Hillary was Obama’s Secretary of State makes her part of the problem, even with her leaving the administration in 2013.  The rise of ISIS and Obama’s collapsed policies vis-à-vis the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran had their genesis when Hillary was at State.  There was the Benghazi debacle.  Trouble with ISIS is growing and could be worse next year.  Islamic terrorism continues and is spreading in Europe.  The president’s response to both is derelict and there are no signs he’ll get his act together.  The economic recovery is half-baked, at best.  Obamacare is no more popular now than when it was conceived. 

For Democrats, the 2016 political environment cries out for a fresh face more so than in 2008, when Any Democrat could have beaten a tread-worn John McCain who campaigned as the economy cratered under George W. Bush.

Hillary’s inevitability is also gainsaid by the Democratic Party’s history.  Democrats – at least the modern incarnations – haven’t been much for coronations.  The party was ripped up as Hubert Humphrey won a pyrrhic victory in Chicago in 1968.  McGovern carried the day over establishment favorites in 1972 (remember Ed Muskie?).  An outsider, Jimmy Carter, won the Democratic nomination in 1976, and then had to battle hard for renomination against the Ted Kennedy insurgency in 1980.  Democrats largely conceded 1984 and 1988, with Mondale and Dukakis, but came back with outsider Bill Clinton in 1992.  Gore was a legacy choice and Kerry was something of a concession in 2004.  And then came 2008…

Here’s what we’re told that works in Hillary’s favor.  She’s been extensively vetted, but vetting hasn’t made the trust issue disappear.  The Democrats’ bench is thin.  But that notion is disputed in an International Business News article from January 21, citing Maryland’s Martin O’Malley, Kentucky’s Steve Beshear, former Senator Jim Webb, and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders as possible contenders. 

Reports International Business News:

But the Democrats have a long time to find a Clinton alternative, if they need one. With all the bustle right now of Republicans getting ready to run, it may seem as though February is the deadline to start a campaign. In fact, Mitt Romney didn’t announce his 2012 exploratory committee until April of 2011. That October, donors and GOP insiders were still trying to get New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to jump in.

Massachusetts’ Senator Elizabeth Warren, a left-wing favorite, has shown no signs of entering the race.  There’s a draft Warren movement underway.  Hillary’s courting Warren to preempt her.  It may work, but political winds can change in a day. 

This from a February 19 report in the Nation:

"It's clear that Senator Warren hears the hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country want her in the 2016 race, because they know we need a President who's not afraid to stand up to the powerful and fight for working families," said Neil Sroka, communications director for Democracy for America, which teamed with to create Run Warren Run. 

Then there’s the matter of Bill Clinton.  Bill’s not a left-wing favorite.  While the left doesn’t fuss about Bill’s endless debauchery, his involvement with Jeffery Epstein – owner and overseer of “Orgy Island” – might prove a political liability.  Voters, the left might reason, may not care a fig about what Bill does with women, but there could be blowback if Bill is involved with “teenage sex slaves” (as characterized by the New York Post). 

The left knows that Bill Clinton is an operator, cutting deals to advance his interests.  Hillary and Bill may not have much of a marriage, but they have a partnership, and like good partners, they work together.

In December, Howard Dean came out for Hillary.  Chris Cillizza, a Washington Post reporter, commented in an article titled: “Howard Dean makes the liberal’s case for Hillary Clinton.  It’s not super convincing:” 

It remains to be seen whether the she's-not-perfect-but-she's-pretty good case for Clinton will be enough to convince liberals to stop actively looking for someone who fits their beliefs better. (It may not matter how convincing Dean is if Warren, who has said she isn't running and signed a letter urging Clinton to run, doesn't change her mind.) No matter what, however, that Dean felt the need to reiterate his support for Clinton and make the case for why other liberals should (or at least could) be for her is a telling indication of the nervousness among allies of the former secretary of state about the possibility of a liberal uprising complicating her coronation for the nomination.                        

It’s just about 11 months to the New Hampshire primary and Iowa Caucus.  That’s an eternity in politics.  Hillary Clinton and the left know it.       

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