The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Where Did Hillary Go Wrong?

Posted on | November 23, 2017 | 1 Comment

The lovely young Hillary Rodham, 1965.

This morning, the hosts of Fox & Friends were mocking the latest installment of Hillary Clinton’s “Excuse Tour,” as we might call her ongoing crusade to avoid responsibility for her own failures:

In an interview posted Wednesday with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Clinton bemoaned being seen as an extension of the Obama years.
“It is true that when you run to succeed a two-term president of your own party, you have a historical headwind blowing against you,” Clinton told Hewitt. “It’s not just this campaign can be set apart from everything that’s ever happened in our politics. It is a challenge.”
Clinton suggested her campaign suffered from mixed messaging.
“If you are both the candidate defending a lot of the areas of agreement, but also putting forth an agenda for change, which is what I tried to do, it is often difficult to get the second part of that message through.”
Not that she wanted to distance herself from Obama. “I was proud to serve in the Obama administration. I did not agree with everything that President Obama decided, but on balance, I really think he did what had to be done to rescue the economy, which as we all remember, was in desperate straits,” Clinton said.

This is not merely false, but delusional. In 1988, Vice President George H.W. Bush was running for Ronald Reagan’s “third term,” as it was commonly said at the time. The election that year was clearly a referendum on Reagan’s policies and, while Bush sought to distance himself somewhat from Reagan — famously promising a “kinder, gentler America” — the voters in 1988 had a clear choice: Continue the pro-business, pro-military, anti-Communist policies of Reaganism, or return to Jimmy Carterism, so to speak, in the person of Mike Dukakis.

Bush won in a landslide that year, 53% to 45%, with 426 Electoral College votes to 111 for Dukakis. This was not as impressive as Reagan’s historic landslide in 1984, yet it was still a solid victory — a wider margin than Obama won in his 2012 re-election, for example. What had happened during the 1980s was that Reagan had produced (or at least had capitalized on) a decisive shift in our nation’s’s politics. After the radical turmoil of the 1960s and the decade-long misery of the 1970s, a majority of the American electorate had rejected liberalism, and this was something that Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton recognized.

As he prepared to campaign for president in 1992, Bill Clinton knew that he would have to present himself as a different kind of Democrat (unfortunately for Ricky Ray Rector). Clinton was himself a radical at heart, but he was also “an unusually good liar,” as Bob Kerrey observed.

The Clinton campaign of 1992 was one of the most dishonest in American history, and we are still reckoning with the consequences to this day. The media went all-in for Clinton (89% of D.C. journalists voted for him) that year, and the blatant partisanship of their pro-Clinton coverage gave Democrats the idea that they were on the verge of returning to Camelot. During the 1993 inauguration festivities, Democrats danced jubilantly to the tune of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,” and had no idea of how soon a Republican tomorrow would arrive. In 1994, the GOP captured control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, a testimony both to the enduring strength of the Reagan coalition and to the failure of Clinton to understand why he had won in 1992. The voters had not rejected Reaganism, they had rejected Bushism, and these are two very different animals. Bush had been elected in 1988 in the expectation that he would “stay the course” of the Reagan years, yet in many ways he departed from that path. This opened the door for Clinton (assisted by the populist third-party challenge of Ross Perot), but the Democrats failed to understand what had happened in 1992, which set the stage for the “Republican Revolution” of 1994.

Before you plan for the future, you must first understand the past.

Our political leaders, in both parties, have failed to learn the lessons of history, and this is true of the American people in general. In a representative form of government, we get the kind of leaders we deserve, and when we behold the corrupt clown show in Washington, we must admit that it is a negative verdict on ourselves. “We the People” have failed, or else we would have better leaders, and it doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. If you were a better citizen — if you were more respected, so that your opinions had more influence — you would be able to persuade your fellow citizens to vote for the candidates of your choice and, once they were in office, your elected representatives would pursue the policies you recommended.

The “Never Trump” Republicans and the Bernie Sanders Democrats, who could not win their own party primaries, merely prove the old Persian adage, “The dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on.”

So where did Hillary go wrong? I covered her on the campaign trail during the 2008 Democratic primaries, which she lost to Obama. When she spoke at Shepherdstown, West Virginia — where I had a pleasant conversation with her daughter Chelsea — I felt a certain sympathy for Mrs. Clinton. There I was, sitting on the grassy lawn of Shepherd College, scarcely 10 feet from the former First Lady, watching her being raked over the coals with hostile questions from the liberal D.C. press corps. After her defeat in the North Carolina primaries, the reporters kept asking, wasn’t it time for her to quit? Wasn’t it her duty as a Democrat to concede the race and urge her voters to support Obama?

Ah — live by the liberal media bias, die by the liberal media bias!

That’s one of the great ironies of American politics. Because the vast majority of journalists are liberals, Democrats live inside a “bubble” of favorable media propaganda, an echo chamber within which they never have to wonder if maybe their ideas are fundamentally wrong. It is quite difficult for any Republican to be as deluded by ideological hubris to such an extent as Democrats so often are. Every GOP politician is hounded by liberal reporters who are as much a part of the Democrat Party campaign operation as any paid DNC operative. To get elected as a Republican is to paint a target on your back, as far as the press corps is concerned, and there is always a swarm of penny-ante “progressive” bloggers who fancy themselves to be latter-day Woodards and Bernsteins, ready to expose the scandal that will destroy a GOP politician’s career.

Somehow, Donald Trump figured out a way to defeat the media. Whether you are pro-Trump or anti-Trump, you have to admit that the man is a master of jiu-jitsu tactics, defeating the liberal media elite by attacking them directly, taunting them and laughing at their impotence.

So, I ask again, where did Hillary go wrong? Responding to a comment on an earlier post, I offered this historic perspective:

It is important to remember that she came from a prosperous Republican family. Her father was a successful businessman and in 1964, young Hillary Rodham was a “Goldwater Girl.” Unfortunately, she was also a Methodist, and came under the influence of a church youth leader with a “social justice” outlook. She was swept along in the general leftward drift of the Methodist Church (like all WCC denominations) and also internalized the generational narcissism of the Baby Boomers.
Bright young people in the 1950s and ’60s were repeatedly told that their generation were the future leaders of America. Their heads were filled with a lot of slogans about “democracy,” “freedom” and “equality” and they weren’t taught much about skepticism and humility. It would have been better for them if they had been given more good old-fashioned Calvinism, but instead their education turned them into fools, ready to believe in a lot of utopian dreams. In a society where liberalism prevails among the academic elite, the more education you get, the more of a hopeless fool you become. By the time she went off to Wellesley, Hillary was already on the wrong path, and no one she encountered at college, or later at Yale Law, did anything to correct her path.

That’s the real problem. Hillary made a left turn in the late 1960s, and never thereafter reconsidered her devotion to the Democrat Party. At the time she drifted into student radicalism, of course, many other young people were doing the same. She followed the herd, with the ambition of becoming a leader of the herd, and failed to anticipate — even as a shadow of a doubt — that history might turn in the other direction.

“Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,” but yesterday is never really gone. The past always offers lessons for the future. And young people who fail to study history will eventually regret neglecting these lessons.



 

 

 

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