Grassroots Commentary

Hillary, Benghazigate, and 2016

Bill Franklin · Jan. 27, 2014

Has Hillary Clinton begun her 2016 presidential campaign? “Oh no, not that!!!” you scream. “Not another presidential campaign season so soon.” Well, take heart. She won’t be flooding the airwaves with ads telling you why she should be the next great Democrat president of the United States. She will instead be campaigning on behalf of various mid-term Democrat candidates for congressional seats and state-level offices – all safe shoo-ins, of course, whose victories will give her the persona of kingmaker. And she will release a book. In other words, yes, she has begun her 2016 presidential campaign.

This is exactly the modus operandi Obama used in 2006 – campaign on behalf of mid-term candidates and be sure to drop an off-hand comment to their election organizations here and there, “Oh, by the way, did I mention that I’m running for president in two years?” It’s campaigning on the cheap because her stump expenses for other candidates are paid by their campaigns. And don’t forget the book. It’s coffee table publicity. Obama’s was entitled The Audacity of Hope. Wonder what happened to all that hope? Not audacious enough, I guess.

In the 2008 campaign, the media lined up behind Obama – the audacious guy – not Hillary – the sure fire choice because of her last name. You’d think she’d still be torqued about that. But politics makes for strange candidate behavior. Prior to a televised debate the presidential opponents smile and shake hands before they trade barbs and insults about each other for an hour, then they smile and shake hands again. I’ve seen that behavior before in sumo wrestling. Before and after wrestling, the opponents squat – the sumo equivalent of a handshake. At least in political debates the opponents don’t bump bellies and appear almost naked except for those funny-looking thong things.

The media has already started lining up behind Hillary for the 2016 campaign, even though the campaign hasn’t begun and other candidates haven’t declared. (Shocking.)  The January 27 cover of Time magazine, for example, shows a huge pant-suited leg and black pump shoe – Hillary’s standard garb – with a miniature hapless male opponent hanging off the heel. A miniature 2016 campaign poster has been discarded on the floor and the owner of the leg is walking off of the cover. Mission accomplished. The huge-miniature symbolism speaks volumes. “Can Anyone Stop Hillary?” the Times cover rhetorically asks. And a sub-headline proclaims, “How to scare off your rivals without actually running (yet).” Wow! What subtlety!

The fawning Time article, obviously written by an ardent Hillary admirer, trumpets “One widespread forecast holds that Clinton is poised for a cakewalk of historic proportions.” Well, there you have it. The 2016 presidential election may as well be canceled. It’s over. Hillary has cakewalked to victory. With historic proportions.

Hillary hasn’t officially declared her candidacy yet. That way she can duck all the specific policy questions while she’s running for president. “Madam Secretary, are you running for president?” Moi?

I wouldn’t crank up that cakewalk band just yet, however. The vice president usually gets a nod to carry on the policies of the current administration. So expect 74-year old Joe “Foot in the Mouth” Biden to campaign through at least Round One of the 2016 election. Obama sorta’ has to support his candidacy, rather than Hillary’s, or else admit the guy he selected twice to be one heartbeat away from becoming president for the past eight years is really a dummkopf, not qualified to be president.

An interesting Public Policy Polling survey last year showed 64% of Democrats supported Hillary and 18% supported Six-pack Joe. The support for other Democrat favorites dropped off significantly in single digits. But if Hillary wasn’t in the race, PPP showed Biden got 49% with barely double digit support for the two leading other Dem favorites. Democrat pundits point to this as evidence that Hillary has to run to prevent “Loose Cannon Joe” from becoming the party candidate.

There will be other candidates in the race. Elizabeth Warren of Cherokee Nation fame will surely run, likely to test the waters for a future presidential bid. (Lord, take me home before that happens!) Possibly Andrew Cuomo will run, while neglecting his day job more than usual, until primary voters convince him he’s a boring boor. Don’t discount another run by the unctuous John Kerry, especially if he has one or two foreign policy coups – more than Hillary has – and after all Kerry will be unemployed after January 2017. A couple of Democrat governors (folks who have actually run a government) have raised their hands and shouldn’t be taken lightly. So a cakewalk and coronation as the party’s nominee it won’t be for Hillary – Time magazine notwithstanding. The White House is rarely handed to a candidate, especially a non-vice presidential first term campaigner.

You’ve got to wonder why a 67-year old woman would put herself through the rigors of a nomination campaign and then a presidential election campaign. These days a 67-year old person is not elderly but combined with the fact that she had a blood clot in her brain last January and one in her leg during Bill Clinton’s second term, 20-hour days for two years is going to take its toll, and Hillary has a reputation for being a stress carrier and that word that starts with a “b.” And if Hillary wins – BIG if – it’s four more years of long stressful days – unless she’s like our current president who takes more vacations than Rick Steves. Also, daughter Chelsea announced last fall that 2014 was the Year of the Baby. Campaigning means grandma won’t be taking trips to the zoo pushing her grandchild in a stroller.

I think the answer to “why put yourself through this?” is the same thing that has kept her married to her philandering husband. Politics runs in their veins. Both have been immersed in politics for 40 years. Who needs love when there are elections to be won? Bill and Hillary Clinton are a political party of two who happen to be married – casually, it seems. But political candidate Hillary is no Bill Clinton. I know that fact galls her feminist pals, but she ain’t got what he has.

She is married to a great politician but none of it rubbed off on her. Hillary is “plain Jane” when it comes to political charm, instincts, and settling for small wins.

Her career as a US Senator was unremarkable. When General Petraeus testified before a Senate committee in 2007 to give a progress report on the Iraq war, Senator Hillary, who was a 2008 presidential contender at that point, essentially called him a liar. She said that his report required “a willing suspension of disbelief.” Not too smart, Candidate Hillary. The video clip showing her insulting a cooperative Senate witness, not to mention the top commander of the war, ran over and over and over on news channels. With each rerunning, her smug, obviously pre-planned use of the “willing suspension” phrase was a put down intended to play to the growing public dissatisfaction with the war. Instead it showed the Independent voter, on whom every candidate depends, what a classless (that word with a “b” again) she is.

The “willing suspension” phrase was coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge to explain the willingness of readers to accept as true a fictional story as they are subsumed into it observing its unfolding. (FYI: I attended a military prep school and my literature teacher, Captain Standard, was a Coleridge junkie who compelled us to memorize long passages from Kubla Khan and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.) Hillary may be a closet Coleridge scholar for all I know, but the phrase isn’t widely used. And as I watched the video clip reruns, her use of it was so canned, I suspect a staff member suggested she would appear erudite if she inserted it in her comments. Instead of appearing eruditely doubting, it compounded her uncharismatic image as a (that word again that starts with a “b”.)

Her political ineptness was on full display as HillaryCare was birthed in secret by her hand-picked liberal academics who were clueless about the real world of healthcare delivery. Bob Dole called it “dead on arrival” when she delivered it to the Senate with the fanfare of Pompey entering Jerusalem. It never made it to a floor vote, but it did help the Democrats lose Congress in their stunning defeat of 1994. Only when Democrats had bullet-proof majorities in both chambers in 2010 were they able to ram through the now-hated ObamaCare, sans a single Republican vote. Given Hillary’s parentage of HillaryCare, it will be hard for her to criticize Obama’s despised health law, which has a good chance of becoming a political albatross around her neck. (Note to Hillary: to understand this metaphor, refer to your bud Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner.) When it became apparent that Obama’s promise that people could keep their insurance was at best a misrepresentation and at worse a lie, who called him out? Hillary? No, her husband, the ever-popular former president did.

Supporters like to point out that Hillary put more miles on the State Department jet than any previous Secretary of State in an attempt to impersonate Henry Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy (she didn’t log the most miles, Condi Rice did.) In fact, her shuttling accomplished little more than wear out government property. On her watch American prestige in the world fell to a new low. Iran is fast becoming a nuclear nation, blowing off US diplomatic attempts to stop them, and the mullahs supply terrorists with impunity to kill American soldiers. Syria scoffed at stern warnings of a “red line” eventually allowing our enemy, Russia, to negotiate a treaty that would have made a good skit on Saturday Night Live. And al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, killing our ambassador and a security agent and then hours later attacked another building, killing two more security personnel. All four were under diplomatic protection. Obama was nowhere to be found during the attack, Hillary knows what happened but isn’t talking, and the Democrat-controlled Senate issued a “bipartisan” report last week that would make “the dog ate my homework” explanation respectable. It uses the word “terrorist” 70 times. But Hillary is mentioned only once in a section written by Republicans. Who was running the State Department? Apparently no one.

An airhead on Governor Chris Christie’s staff closes a bridge and causes four days of traffic jams, launching three separate investigations, one by the US Attorney and FBI, as if this constituted high crimes and misdemeanors. Four Americans with US diplomatic protection are killed and 18 months later, no foreign national has been captured or killed, no one in the State Department has lost his/her job, and the US Senate’s investigation led it to conclude: “The committee found the attacks were preventable based on extensive intelligence reporting on the terrorist activity in Libya … and given the known security shortfalls at the US Mission.” Apparently the Senate report is the final word on this matter.

Even Susan Collins (R-ME) who is about as Republican as my Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier called Benghazigate “a broken system overseen by senior leadership [who] contributed to the vulnerability of US diplomats … in one of the most dangerous cities in the world, and yet the Secretary of State has not held anyone responsible for the system’s failings.” The mirror! The mirror! Tell her to look in the mirror, Susan!

I don’t want to belabor Benghazigate. Greg Hicks, one of the Benghazigate whistle-blowers published a Wall Street Editorial this week disputing recent political efforts to blame the dead guy – Ambassador Chris Stevens. This blog is about Hillary and her 2016 chance of winning the presidential election with her political baggage. But last January, when she appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) did a “Petraeus” on Hillary, pressing her hard to say what she believes caused the attacks (given the cockamamie video story that no one on Team Obama will admit to dreaming up.) Hillary exploded in full fury at Johnson: “Was it because of a protest or because of guys out for a walk one night and decided to go kill some Americans? At this point what difference does it make, Senator?”

Well, it makes a lot of difference to the families of the dead guys, Hillary, and it’s going to make a lot of difference to you. Because you’re going to see that video clip run over and over and over by your Republican presidential opponent.

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