Hillary Agonistes

Hillary is not going to run for president. Oh, she may put her name up. But run, as in the sense of actually campaigning, that’s another story altogether.

There’s a line from the first Godfather that’s always stuck in my mind. Sollozzo (Al Lettieri), the family’s deadly enemy who has just taken an almost fatal crack at Don Corleone, bends forward and near-whispers, “Could I have gotten to him ten years ago?”

That line has been running through my mind the past several weeks as the e-mail saga has unfolded: Could anybody have gotten to Hillary ten years ago?

The answer, of course, is “no.” Nobody could have gotten to her. Nobody ever has. Hillary -- far more than Bill -- has endured assaults that would have put anybody else in American life in the gutter for good -- if not in a fed pen. She has been as untouchable as any Godfather. Consider the roll call: Whitewater, the Rose law firm, the miracle of the cattle futures, Vince Foster, Benghazi. They stand as towering monoliths of pure corruption on the horizon of the American political landscape, fading into the mist down the past forty years and more. Incidents that would have destroyed anyone else’s political career have scarcely even been broached in public; you can bring them up and have no one in hearing distance have any idea of what you’re talking about -- e.g. her Watergate firing. So rich is the tapestry of Hillary’s corruption that vast crimes appear as mere detail, overwhelmed by the overall gaudiness.

And Hillary has not only endured, she has prevailed. A vast number of Gruberite Americans would trot out tomorrow to cast their votes for her secure in the knowledge that they were doing the best thing possible for the ol’ USA.

Apart from naked support by a corrupt media and pure ideology -- the millions of female neurotics who see her as the rightful heir of Susan B. Anthony and company -- she has gotten away with this through a combination of gall and fear.  No matter what the accusation or the quality of the evidence against her, she has answered with absolute hauteur. Often coming up with excuses and explanations that wouldn’t fool a child of five, but put forward with such blank-faced cockiness as to completely fool the simple and flummox the gatekeepers. Time and again, her enemies -- which have included and still include some of the wisest, most experienced, and most moral that this country can claim -- have been reduced to simply shaking their heads and saying “How the hell can somebody say that?”

The nerves of steel are buttressed by fear. Clintonian ruthlessness -- never forget or overlook a slight -- has become a byword in American politics even as it does nothing to blot their escutcheon. People who defy them get in trouble -- at times terminal trouble. This was well understood by anybody dealing with the Clintons. The result has been open fear. The fear of Juanita Broaddrick, who waited years to report her treatment at the hands of an out-of-control Bill Clinton. The fear of Trey Gowdy, who sat on the e-mail information for six months, waiting for somebody else to bring it up.

That, in a nutshell, is how Hillary has done it. That’s the outline of her career. That’s the way it has been.

But that’s not the way it is anymore.

Consider her response to the e-mail scandal. Compare it to that of her previous efforts to emulate the Borgias. There has been no outrage on her part. No Medusa on the rampage. No counterattacks, no legal maneuvering, no horde of media sock puppets leaping into the breach.

No. She and her entourage have been petulant and ineffectual -- a truth underlined by her dog-ate-my-homework excuse to Gowdy’s committee late last week. Explanations have been offhand and feeble, allies scattered and virtually shame-faced. No media or legal battlewagons have left port as far as we can see. Even Bill has been effectively hors de combat.

Her response has been, in a word, tired.

The same can be said about her buildup to the presidential campaign. By this time, there should have been half a dozen films, TV series, and fawning interviews. Myriads of feminists across the country should have been falling on their knees having visions of Hillary encompassing the firmament. Hillary herself should been travelling the country healing scrofula, bringing dead pets back to life, and multiplying the loaves and fishes for undocumented citizens just arrived across the border.

But none of this has been happening. In fact, nothing at all has been happening. There has been next to no activity. Her designated campaign manager, Robby Mook, has, when not dodging pool sticks wielded by Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel, been begging to be unleashed -- but in vain.

There’s been rampant speculation that she needed time out of sight of the public to recover from the plastic surgeon’s knife, but her press conference revealed that to be untrue. 

No, the simple fact of the matter is this: Hillary is tired.

It’s hard work being corrupt. We see this in the rulers of the high medieval period and the Renaissance -- prematurely aged kings, doges, and electors retiring to country palaces and whiling away the days while ignoring their domains because they just didn’t have it in them anymore.

I first noticed this during the Benghazi hearings. Most took her infamous outburst as a blast of pure venom, the words of a Messalina who was going to have these people in the arena facing barbarian gladiators by this time tomorrow. But it didn’t strike me that way. I saw it instead as an outbreak of petulance, the words of someone pushed past the point of endurance and simply too weary to control herself any longer. I still think so.

That weariness is even visible on the notorious Time cover.

Ignoring the horns, what we have is “historical” silhouette, chosen by editors when the figure is so well known that only the black outline is necessary. It’s Hillary! The same as you would say “FDR!” seeing a figure with a pince-nez and a cigarette holder. This is laughable, of course, a pathetic effort to boost her status to the max. But take another look. Take a look at the slumped shoulders, the bent knees, the lowered head. Hillary’s exhaustion is plainly visible even as a cutout. This is more than simply an old woman -- it’s an old woman showing her age and then some.

There have been times that I’ve felt serious pity for Hillary. All of her efforts -- all the bullshit, all the lies, all the public posturing -- have been so plainly carried out to make up for an empty life. A life spent with a man who simply could not control himself and valued her not at all. Consider how many times she picked up the phone only to hear a hangup, how many strange perfumes she smelled, how many stains she found on Bill’s clothing. Consider what such knowledge -- particularly knowing that it would never end -- would do to a normal woman. Then think for a moment of what it would do to someone like Hillary. It would touch a heart of ice.

That feeling never lasted long, in light of what she is and what she has done. People have suffered and died because of her, from Little Rock, to Benghazi, to Syria. Pity is wasted on monsters.

But a faint echo of that feeling is stirring now. Because it’s over. She will “run,” in the vaguest sense of the word. But it will all be half-hearted, pure theater and nothing more. She will slough off debates, perhaps even skipping them altogether. She will isolate herself, attempting a kind of Garbo campaign, hoping that her “stature” will do the job for her. She will trudge on, expecting that the presidency will be given to her. Because she deserves it. Because she has suffered for it. Because she is Hillary.

And if God truly wants to punish America, and she somehow, due to media antics, brainwashing, or conservative voters deciding that her opponent is a commie because his ties are too colorful, manages to slip in, what then? Simply put -- the reckoning. At a critical time the chickens unleashed by Obama over the past two terms will be homing in -- war in the Middle East, Iranian nukes, the inevitable Obama recession. She will be in no state to handle it. Not any of it. The sine wave tracking American politics over the past half-century is clear: Democratic presidents take office only to drive the U.S. up against the wall and are succeeded by Republicans who act to repair it, only for a new Democrat to appear to resume demolition. With no repair work accomplished and a tired, embittered, and beaten old woman in office, we will be in for some real history.

And who is the Republican who can save us from this? As a previous single-name historical figure once put it: the strongest.