With Hillary, It's 'What You See Is What You Get'
It's a term from the early days of the tech boom: WYSIWYG, or "what you see is what you get."
We can't help feeling a bit sorry for Hillary. But we're sorrier still for the liberals who lined up early for her. What we are seeing now is what we saw for eight years under Bill Clinton: scandal, stonewalling, denial, and weary, tiring trench warfare. No wonder millions of people are sick of politics.
Is there any prospect more deadening for ideals and for brighter tomorrows than another Hillary Clinton campaign? Look at David Kendall and Lanny Davis and that ragin' Cajun, James Carville. They are making the talk show circuits, assuring us that Hillary committed no crimes when she used her private email server as U.S. secretary of state (instead of the official State Department email system). Well, she can just make that decision, right?
Committed no crimes? Now, isn't that a résumé-burnisher? Our wives have committed no crimes, either. Does that mean they should be president? (Actually, we take that back. Both our wives would make excellent presidents!) In fact, there are probably millions of women in America who would make better presidents than Hillary.
For starters, they would be able to effectively rebut the idea that their husbands' business relationships and financial gain did not influence their official decisions. Bill Clinton has made millions from foreign governments that had a stake in Madam Secretary's decisions as America's chief diplomat. Will we ever know whether a fat check from some skinny Czech made out to our newly trimmed down former president influenced our own foreign policy? Of course not. Those records have been "wiped." Hillary jokes about it: "with a cloth"? Well, if you are going to cover up, maybe a cloth will do it.
Mark Twain used to start his talks with this crowd-pleaser: "Suppose you are an idiot. Then suppose you are a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." We won't be as cynical as old Mark was. Suppose you are a sincere liberal. And you are not naive. What can you list as accomplishments of the eight-year reign of error of Bill and Hillary? Health care? Hillary's plan failed in a Democratic Congress because those members read it first. Obamacare passed in a Democratic Congress because they didn't read it. "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, famously. And that's a major reason why she is no longer Speaker Pelosi.
Barack Obama lifted the ban on recruiting homosexuals by quota for the military. Bill Clinton signed the bill that imposed the ban by statute for the first time. Bill Clinton signed welfare reform. Okay, it was only after vetoing two prior GOP reform bills, but he signed it. Barack Obama effectively repealed that important reform with his first stimulus package. Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. His press secretary sneered at it and called it mean-spirited. But when he ran for re-election, Bill bragged on Christian radio how he had signed it. Bill Clinton tried to force every county in America to build abortion facilities. He was rebuffed when Congress shot down Hillary's pro-abortion health care takeover plan. But Barack Obama achieved the same result employing the deliberately "opaque" provisions of Jonathan Gruber's plan.
In foreign policy, Hillary voted to send the troops into Iraq. President Obama pulled them out.
Wherever you look on the liberal horizon, Bill Clinton failed where Barack Obama succeeded. President Obama won an ugly re-election in 2012. But it was no uglier than Harry Truman's 1948 "Give 'Em Hell" campaign. Winning, as Coach Lombardi used to say, isn't everything; it's the only thing. And for liberals, Barack Obama won where the Clintons lost.
We're waiting for some liberal pundit to notice what Hillary said about Barack Obama and his failure to attract the support of "working, hard-working middle class voters" who are white. You read that sentence correctly. This was no "dog whistle" that liberals charge conservatives with using on divisive racial issues. This was Hillary's bullhorn! And it was documented by two eminent professors in a respected academic journal.
On top of everything, there is the problem of Bill Clinton. He may seem most respectable when featured on a TIME magazine cover with fellow former president George W. Bush. But Todd Purdom warned fellow progressives in 2008 that tomcats don't change their spots. He detailed some of Bill's – ahem – extra-curricular activities since they turned off the klieg lights. Purdom warned liberals in the pages of Vanity Fair.
If Bill couldn't behave when Hillary was first lady and senator, why would progressives think he will turn over a new leaf now? His activities would become fodder for the tabloid press once again. And that would be mighty distracting.
From the progressive standpoint, Barack Obama has had nearly eight years of delivering on their agenda. And he has pulled this through in the face of often furious conservative opposition and congressional exasperation. There has been no "triangulation" with him. It's all in for 200-proof leftism. It's what he promised. It's what he has delivered.
Hillary cannot even credibly argue she will maintain what Barack Obama achieved. She promises over and over again to be a fighter for the middle class. How many deliverers of $300,000-a-pop speeches do you know have ever delivered for the middle class? As for fighting, she fights for Bill. She fights for herself. We've yet to see her fight for anything or anyone else.
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are political columnist and bloggers in Washington, D.C.