Hillary's Pathetic Road Back to the White House

Naked ambition is no stranger to politics, and plenty of unworthy men have ascended to the highest rung with little to offer but that, witness our current president.  Hillary Clinton likewise seeks the presidency with little in the way of accomplishment or talent to recommend her, but sustained nonetheless by her own relentless will to power.  In the case of Obama, his own will was fortified by good looks, and a glamorous political charisma (succinctly, crudely and famously summarized by Joe Biden.) As the first “viable” African-American presidential candidate he was practically anointed by the Democrat party, and Obama’s presidency has taken on the airs of a monarchy ruled by one of divine right. Hillary’s path to the presidency, if it exists, is quite different. It will be won, if at all, based in large part on her complete absence of charisma, good looks, and glamour. 

Obviously, were it not for her husband’s success, it is highly unlikely that Hillary ever would have come to national attention. Ambition alone, without other critical assets, usually doesn’t go far, and Hillary has never shown any outstanding ability or talent, except when it comes to advancing her own political fortunes. This she’s cleverly done by attaching herself to Bill, and not letting go, despite his chronic and unapologetic (at least in terms of sincerity) adultery. Indeed, she’s made herself indispensable to him, by both enabling his cheating, and defending him as the loyal spouse -- which lets Bill have his personal cake and eat his political one. 

Whatever Hillary does in any of her public endeavors is nothing but an afterthought to her personal political calculations. This helps explain why such a well-educated, intelligent, and hard-working woman could accomplish so little professionally in any of her various careers. She did nothing of note as a lawyer or a U.S. senator. The one significant job given to her as First Lady (designing national health care policy) was a complete disaster. Likewise, as becomes more evident every day, so was her tenure as secretary of state. What her few released emails show are most remarkable for their absence of any appreciable interest or insight about her job. Intent merely on punching her ticket, rather than actually analyzing or implementing policy, she made a show of flying around the world more than any of her predecessors, and also accomplishing less. This left Barack Obama to implement his own catastrophic policies. On those occasions when she claims she did offer advice he mostly ignored her. When he did follow her guidance, as in Libya, she was usually wrong.

On top of this is the obvious fact that almost everything Hillary does is tainted by calculation, dishonestly, immorality, and scandal, a history that dates back decades, and would likely have already undermined almost any other presidential candidate. Still, fully half the nation appears to back her. There are of course many things that still keep her afloat:  party loyalty, name recognition, fame, gender, Bill’s status, his political connections and political capital, plus massive personal wealth and fundraising prowess.

Other reasons have been proposed as well, recently the so-called grandmother factor. As presented in a recent Atlantic article, Hillary and other aging female politicians may benefit from an evolutionary imperative that gives post-menopausal wisdom both wisdom and societal gravitas. But while this theory may well have merit in some cases, it is doubtful that it applies to Hillary. To be sure, Hillary and her minions have already sought to play on this factor. Other mature female politicians have convincingly played the grandmotherly role while maintaining their authority (Golda Meir comes to mind, perhaps Angela Merkel) but this is a mask that doesn’t fit Hillary well. It is a meme that may play well for liberal suburban women. Yet that’s a group Hillary’s largely bagged, and if anything has been ahead of her liberal issues like support for gay marriage -- not really a grandmotherly thing.  

So why do a large segment of the American people (who are not liberal female suburbanites or diehard leftists) continue to excuse Hillary for her obvious serial corruption, dishonesty, and unethical behavior? It’s largely for the opposite reasons they excused Bill (and continue to do so) for the same things. Bill Clinton dances around his corruption, dishonesty and infidelity because of his good looks, charm and natural charisma. He plays the role of loveable rogue and people eat it up. He gets away with it in part because he is a man.

Hillary has none of Bill’s good looks or political gifts, other than being an effective schemer. But if she did, it’s unlikely that the public would cut her a pass like they continue to do. If Hillary were also good looking and glamorous her corruption and unethical behavior would be a lot harder for people (especially women) to take.  She’d become a political version of a soap opera villainess, who reinforces her amoral scheming with lots of charm and sex appeal. Hillary’s got plenty of the former and none of the latter. Is this a form of sexism? You bet.

In sum, for an inattentive electorate with the attention span of a beagle, Hillary just doesn’t fit the stereotype of the Hollywood villainess, and for too many people, Hollywood is reality. Everything about her screams plain-Jane awkwardness, including her screeching, unartful defenses of herself, as at the Benghazi hearings. It’s not that she is grandmotherly, rather that she’s kind of pathetic, yet doesn’t know it, and nobody has the heart to tell her. Not Republican congressmen, nor millions of ordinary American men and women who have become almost inured to her shenanigans. That she’s also the victim of endless and embarrassing cuckoldry adds to her pathetic appeal.  She’s the boor at the party that nobody has the courage to confront, and so who dominates the proceedings based on her own self-absorption and lack of self-awareness. 

If Hillary is elected president, she will not only be the first woman and the first grandmother to win, but also the first truly pathetic nobody to hold the office. And secretly, for a lot of people, that basic wretchedness is part of her appeal, or at least an absolution of her vast corruption. 

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