It was inevitable that the implosion of the Biden administration would lure former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton back onto the political stage. The voters showed her the door five years ago, yet she remains unable to grasp what they were trying to tell her. The latest manifestation of this learning disability began last month with an online lecture series in which Clinton holds forth on “The Power of Resilience.” The series culminates with a cringeworthy reading, complete with feigned attempt to hold back tears, of the speech she purportedly prepared in anticipation of victory in 2016.
My fellow Americans, today you sent a message to the whole world. Our values endure. Our democracy stands strong. And our motto remains: e pluribus unum. Out of many, one. We will not be defined only by our differences. We will not be an us versus them country.… Fundamentally, this election challenged us to decide what it means to be an American in the 21st century. And for reaching for a unity, decency, and what President Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” We met that challenge.
If this undelivered unity speech seems wildly at odds with Clinton’s actual behavior and rhetoric, before and after the 2016 election, it is no illusion. It is impossible to reconcile it with her infamous “basket of deplorables” remark, in which she characterized millions of Americans as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamophobic.” The speech is also inconsistent with her oft-repeated post-election claim that Trump was an “illegitimate president.” Indeed, it even fails to conform to the ostensibly benign point of her lectures, part of which she devotes to slandering Trump as a “bully” and a “creep.”
Such ad hominem cheap shots are, of course, far more characteristic of the Hillary Clinton we all know rather than the circumspect observations of a seasoned leader who has learned from her mistakes. She recently offered seemingly reasonable advice to the Democrats about avoiding a far left turn before the 2022 midterms, a clear reference to “the Squad.” Yet she continues to attack former President Trump based on the most absurd leftwing conspiracy theory since the Russia collusion hoax. During a recent CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria about her new novel, Clinton delivered herself of the following opinion:
I do think our democracy is under continuing assault by the former president, who masterminded a coup in the attack on our Capitol, has continued to promote the false accusation that the election of 2020 was somehow rigged.… I think he poses a real clear and present danger to the United States. And having lived through that presidency, when it came time to write a political thriller with my friend and collaborator Louise Penny, of course I would draw from the reality that we all have experienced.
Never mind that the Justice Department has concluded that there was no coup to “mastermind.” As Reuters reported last August, “The FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result.” Forget that not a single rioter has been prosecuted for treason or conspiracy to overthrow the government. Ignore the inconvenient fact that those who have been prosecuted were charged with such things as trespassing, disorderly conduct, and destruction of property. Yet Clinton doesn’t hesitate to label Trump as the evil architect of a coup.
Many Democrats take this nonsense seriously. They believe, as Clinton maintains, that the republic will be in great peril if Trump runs again in 2024: “I want people to understand that this is a make-or-break point.” They know how unpopular President Biden and Vice President Harris are with the voters. Consequently, high-profile Democratic operatives are casting about for a candidate who can defeat Trump. Douglas Schoen, an influential Democratic consultant, believes that Hillary Clinton may be the only Democrat who has any chance of defeating Trump in 2024. As Schoen recently put it in the Orange County Register:
Democrats already have reason to be concerned about their presidential ticket in 2024.… Indeed, voters are turning on the Biden presidency: Republicans lead in the 2022 generic vote for Congress; and in a hypothetical Trump-Biden rematch, 48% of voters say they would back Trump, compared with 45% for Biden.… Clinton would offer Democrats a new approach that is separate from the Biden Administration.… Clinton has the stature, the positions, and the record that Democrats need.
Schoen seems to have forgotten that whatever “stature” Clinton brings to the 2024 election, she would carry even more baggage than she lugged to the 2016 race. The heaviest load she carries is the role her campaign played in concocting the Russian collusion hoax. As Kimberly Strassel puts it in the Wall Street Journal, “The Clinton campaign ultimately paid a Russian [Igor Danchenko] to gin up the core allegations against Mr. Trump.” These tales ended up in the Steele Dossier that was deployed against Trump. In other words, the Russians did interfere with the 2016 election — on behalf of the Clinton campaign.
This means the stench of corruption that has always enveloped Clinton and her associates will be more pungent than ever in 2024. Will this stop Hillary from running? Of course not. As former Clinton advisor Dick Morris recently phrased it, “I’ve always said that the way you could tell if Hillary is running again is check whether she has a pulse or not.” There can be little doubt that Biden’s many blunders has Clinton casting a lustful eye on the greasy pole once again, but can she reach its slimy pinnacle in 2024 carrying all those decades of baggage? Perhaps, but Trump will get there first, just as he did in 2016.