The Clinton legacy had long been secure until a young senator, Barack Obama, took a whack at it in 2008. There was a time when you could sweep your scandals under a rug and few would care, especially when your opposition overreached. But not in a time of “change.” Not in a time when younger voters would have no memory of a “Clinton prosperity” purchased through the Reagan years and a “Clinton peace” secured at the expense of the later Bush years.
The generational winds swept by Hillary in 2008, yet she hoped that they would carry her through the Obama presidency into her rightful place as the first female president. Bill, as a young president, was a bit JFK-esque—down to the Oval Office antics. Hillary, surely, would be a pioneer in her own right—a female JFK. Little did she know that she would be cruelly dethroned like JFK’s old nemesis, Richard Nixon.
Indeed, it doesn’t take much to see that the Nixonian glove fits the Clintonian hand. From a vast sense of paranoia at conspiratorial cabals to the downright refusal to produce information that could prove damaging, the parallels are eerie. We see same obfuscation and dissembling in Hillary’s handling of her emails and transcripts as Nixon did with his tapes.
It would be one thing if the incredible number of security breaches by Clinton constituted the extent of her corruption, but every Clinton scandal has neighbors. The acceptance of donations by the Clinton Foundation from key political players and foreign powers represented a clear conflict of interest and influence peddling. Most damaging, of course, is the outright lie Hillary told over Benghazi, telling the people she respected—Chelsea and foreign leaders—that it was terrorism and the people she didn’t—the victims’ families and the American people—that it was a random act of violence inspired by a video. And all in the same night!
This is why a dyed-in-the-wool old socialist like Bernie Sanders can compete with a fully-moneyed and politically-anointed Hillary Clinton. It doesn’t matter that Bernie’s brand would be best represented by a Soviet sickle and hammer—at least he’s somewhat honest about who he is. Hillary, like Donald Trump, could say “I am who I am” and be unapologetic for being herself—but who is Hillary?
We don’t know. She has her husband’s penchant for scandal, simply without the sexuality. As First Lady, she made sure to bury stories that could harm her husband and steadfastly stood by him while simultaneously feigning indignation and indifference. Unlike Marco Rubio’s “This is on me” speech earlier in the GOP campaign, Hillary has never admitted guilt nor has she pleaded innocence. Her plea has always been that of the victim.
“What difference does it make?” she postured before the Benghazi committee, neither pleading guilt o or innocence. Like her husband, she lives in a delusional world with no moral accountability and has surrounded herself with hatchet men who can maintain such a delusion. She lives in a world of conspiracies, not responsibilities.
Perhaps this is the explanation for why she will likely squeeze out a nomination against a Soviet-era retread. Even in our deconstructionist age where language lacks meaning, her husband’s words “It depends what ‘is’ is” can easily be turned against her. Cue sinister music: Her husband wanted to know what “is” is, and she wanted to know what difference it makes. Our ambassador was assassinated by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11. On the same night she told the public and victims’ families that this was the result of a video, she confided to her own family and foreign dignitaries that this was clearly an act of terror. What difference does this make? It shows that Hillary is a liar.
Hillary may have caught a break. The JFK to her Nixon—Marco Rubio—is now out of the race. A man of passion and eloquence, it is easy to imagine Rubio dancing around Hillary in a televised debate in a manner similar to JFK against Nixon. It was also not too difficult to imagine Rubio sweeping up the millennial vote against Hillary—perhaps not to the extent of Obama or Sanders, but enough to make Hillary’s defeat humiliating.
If Donald Trump is the GOP nominee and enables an unlikely Hillary victory, it will only be due to the fact that the American people judged the remedy worse than the disease. It would merely cloud this truth: Her time has passed. In an age of mass information (where Drudge is the standard-bearer rather than the fringe), Hillary can no longer simply bury her opponents. She can bring out other aged surrogates like Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright, but they only confirm the prejudice of the young.
Hillary represents an age of moral posturing in service of immoral ends. She represents an age where feminism was defined by the freedom to destroy and female victims were believed as long as they did not get in the way of electoral ambitions. Today, with Steinem and Albright, Hillary is an anachronism, a relic of a past age. As evidenced by the age divide in the Democratic primary, Hillary is only a heroine for those receiving a social security check.
Even if she beats The Donald, Hillary will never be wildly admired. She will be an ambivalent character in history at best. And for a woman who spent decades tolerating sexual infidelities and destroying the lives of victims in order to attain her own political ambitions, this ambivalence is about the worst possible outcome. The means were thought to justify the ends. Instead, her actions will find their rightful consequences—a thoroughly tarnished legacy. And a host of shattered women will gain a bit of consolation.