Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC told us something very important: He thinks Hillary’s best hope for 2016 is getting Barack Obama reelected. The Big Dawg came out and gave a stirring speech that was more an indictment of Republicans than it was supportive of Barack Obama. I hate to say it, but Bill Clinton is afraid. I suspect he knows exactly who Romney is and what he can bring to the country. He knows if Romney wins and governs as himself America will prosper, and there goes 2016. Based on this analysis, his and Hillary’s only hope is to keep their weak President in his place until she can run again.
But here’s the thing about our friend Bill: He’s an excellent governor with great skill and lots of political genius, but his performance is always, always marked by his blind spots. It wasn’t just the women, including Monica Lewinsky, during his political career; it was also some of his policy decisions. NAFTA anyone? Listening to him talk about manufacturing success during his speech was a little jarring in the wake of that. The repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999? A Republican bill, yes, but one he signed, and our current calamity had its birth in his signature. He owns part of it.
Bill, the Man from Hope, is a man of hope. He earnestly hopes that a weak Obama can pave the way for Hillary in 2016. That was what drove his speech tonight, but he is as marred as ever by his own blind spots, and what he doesn’t see is that Hillary is boxed in. She is boxed in by her own fatal flaw: biding her time.
Hillary has been biding her time since she was a child. She first bided her time waiting to get out of her mother’s house. Then she married Bill and bided her time again for her own success. She helped him build his dreams, and as she did, her own dreams grew with his. I know why she did it. I’ve been talking about it for years. She was a student of history and she believed her path was the same as so many women she saw and idolized growing up.
For decades in this country the most efficient path to power for women in America was a well-known father or husband. See Nellie Tayloe Ross or Margaret Chase Smith. Hillary Clinton didn’t have a well-known father, so she helped Bill build his career and she did an excellent job at it. Because of her experience watching the political world, she thought if she did it well enough, she could build her own career on the foundation of his. And why wouldn’t she? It’s the way it was for forever. Young women today stilll do not get this little startling detail about Hillary’s character because they are so ignorant of their own history. They refused to play along with her game plan in 2008.
They refused because a funny thing happened on the way to the 21st century.
A low rumble was heard in the 1970s via such women as Shirley Chisholm, who made their way on their own, thanks to the Second Wave. That rumble grew into something bigger and louder in the 1990s, beginning in 1992, as scores of self-made women infiltrated the hallowed halls of Congress, women who had no family connections in politics at all. Now the new model for women empowering themselves politically is to build it starting small, from education boards and state offices like Michele Bachmann, starting successful businesses like Kristi Noem, or via their notoriety in the manner of Krystal Ball or Sandra Fluke.
That is the model women today know and accept, and they scorn the old model of networking through existing family political connections, even as they do it themselves in other venues, such as business and professional careers. Hillary could not see this new model emerge and could not capitalize on it, or hide her adherence to the old model. Young, liberal women rejected her for it. Yes, it had a lot to do with their latent, internalized sexism after co-educating and co-habitating with a generation of Progressive Dude Nation, but it was the differences in approach that informed it, I believe. Hillary wanted to be a Margaret Chase Smith when she needed to be a of this new strain. Biding her time did not work for her this time.
A similar thing happened with Barack Obama. You can say it was because she did not know how to address the racism charge, you can say it’s because she’s a loyal Democrat, and both are probably true. But even deeper than that is the fatal flaw she had: she chose to accept the setback and bide her time once again. And now she is boxed in. She doesn’t see it, and Bill doesn’t either, but she is.
The reality on the ground today is this: If Obama is re-elected, there will not be another Democratic president for 12 years. If Romney is elected, there will not be a Democratic president for 12 years at least, maybe 16. This is just how it is. You can argue with me if you want to, but I am absolutely convinced this is true. Here’s why.
Another Obama term will annihilate the Democratic brand. It’s already limping along. The takeover by Obamacrats has sunk the party the lowest depth I have seen in my lifetime. A second term will be worse, because he will be unfettered by the prospect of reelection, and we’ll really get to see who Obama is. I think most of us here know by now that his character is rotten to the core. America itself may not survive another Obama term in any manifestation that is recognizably American, but his reelection will, to use Elizabeth’s Warren’s well-chosen word, vaporize the Democratic Party. Despite what Bill thinks, Hillary has zero chance if he is reelected.
If Romney is elected, he will be what he has been for his entire life: a success. America will prosper and we will get a handle on an untenable budget situation. He will reinvent the GOP brand in the way FDR reinvented the Democratic brand. He will be better than the GOP version of Bill Clinton or FDR, and better than Reagan, too, because he doesn’t have their character flaws. And unlike Obama, he has chosen his running mate well to capitalize on his own success. Ryan will easily be elected to a first term. He will grow under the mentorship of Mitt Romney and will come out of 8 years entirely ready to assume the helm. It remains to be seen if he can execute a vision, and a second term will depend on that. But trust me on this: A Romney win will lead to at least 12 years of Republican presidents.
And Hillary will have bided her time into oblivion.
In every person’s life there comes a time when one should “go all in, ” to use a poker analogy. That time for Hillary Clinton was in 2008 or this year. She could have won against him in 2008 if she had stood up for herself (and us) after the RBC meeting or at the Convention, and she could have stolen the nomination right from Obama this year in a walk. She chose to bide her time instead because it is her way, her comfort zone, and because, sadly, she puts party before country. Bill Clinton hoping that Obama is the path forward for her is like hoping for a pair of twos and that that is the winning hand. His fatal flaws–his blind spots and his eternal optimism–are what shown through in his DNC speech.
It’s over. If there is to be another Clinton in high office, it will be Chelsea and decades down the road.