Sunday, July 3, 2016

Hill's Hell

Jeff Greenfield has a point. Indeed he has several. Throughout most of their political careers, it's not the things the Clintons have done per se that have gotten them into so much trouble; it's how they've handled the perceptions of those things that have come back to haunt them time and again. In short, they've been their own worst enemies.

Take for example the latest instance which comes courtesy of Bill. I agree with Greenfield. I don't think for a moment that the former President and the current Attorney General of the United States engaged in any sort of quid pro quo. To do so would be grounds for disbarment for Loretta Lynch.

The point is the meeting between them should never have taken place. Period. It isn't just bad politics;  it's colossally stupid and potentially fatal to Hillary's presidential aspirations. But the fact that Bill could even think that talking with Lynch was acceptable goes to the heart of what Greenfield pointed out and what many of the Clintons' critics have been saying for years: they just don't get it. It's like the laws of the universe don't apply to them. Optics, perception, all that stuff, they are for lesser mortals. Not them. They're exempt.

Still, this faux pas was a doozy. I can just imagine what Hillary said to Bill when she finally got him alone.
"Are you fucking kidding me? What were you thinking talking to the person who's in charge of a criminal investigation involving me? Don't I have enough problems with Trump calling me 'crooked Hillary' and Bernie supporters thinking I'm Gordon Gekko without you making it worse? Do me a favor, Bill, stop trying to help me. I'd like to win this thing if it's all the same with you."
Now I can't swear that those were the exact words she used, but I can tell you this much: she didn't give him a hug and an "attaboy" that night. I'll bet my mortgage and yours too that she was pissed as hell at him. Old Bubba had himself one helluva mulligan with this beaut.

Luckily for the both of them it won't prove costly. After Hillary's meeting with the FBI, both CNN and MSNBC are reporting that no criminal charges will be filed against her. The issue will remain a political thorn in her side, but thankfully nothing more.

But what about the next time? And let's not kid ourselves, with Bill there'll always be a next time. You can count on two things with him: one, he'll always have something to say; and two, at least 50 percent of the time it will come out wrong. Remember how he handled the black lives matter protesters? That's Bill in a microcosm.

As I see it, Bill still hasn't gotten over his wife's '08 primary loss and he's been trying to relititigate it ever since. To Hillary's credit, she's moved on. She's run a much more disciplined campaign this time around. True she's had the benefit of running against a primary opponent who couldn't hold a candle to Barack Obama and a general election candidate who makes Sarah Palin seem lucid, but that's not her fault. You don't get to choose your opponents; you simply have to beat them.

But you have to beat them in the present, not the past. And Bill, for all his many accomplishments, is hopelessly lost in the '90s. And it's becoming a huge problem for Hillary. Just look at the way the two of them are approaching this campaign. Hillary is doing everything possible to hold the Obama coalition together. She knows her fate is tied to African American turnout. Listening to Bill, you'd have a hard time knowing who the current president is. It's as if he's stuck in a time warp back in 2000. That's not Hillary out there running on Obama's legacy; it's Al Gore running on Bill's.

As difficult as it might be for her to do, she may have no other option but to fire her husband, or at the very least sit on him. Every time he opens his mouth he becomes the story, not her. Forget Elizabeth Warren upstaging her, right now Bill's doing the upstaging.

This has to stop before he says or does something that can't be explained or fixed. The Clintons have been the Houdinis of American politics for a quarter of a century. They get into trouble but they always, somehow find a way out of it. But as we know all too well, even Harry Houdini couldn't overcome a sucker punch to the abdomen.

Wouldn't it be ironic if, after all the Benghazi hearings and the months-long FBI investigation into her email server, the thing that brings Hillary down isn't Donald Trump but her own husband?

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