Commentary Magazine


Topic: Hillary Clinton

Do Hillary’s Bad Poll Numbers Matter? Yes.

Hillary Clinton and her supporters are probably telling themselves not to be alarmed by the latest CNN/ORC poll. They must acknowledge that the headlines will rightly trumpet the fact that in just two months the former First Lady has gone from a net plus 11 percent positive rating to a negative four percent in terms of her favorability. Just as bad if not worse are the numbers that tell us that clear majorities of Americans don’t consider her honest, trustworthy, care about them, or inspire confidence. But Clinton still has a staggering 46 percent lead over any other Democrat and leads all Republican contenders in head-to-head matchups, although not by the same large margins that she once enjoyed. That means that no matter what most Americans think about her, she is certain to be the Democratic nominee and head toward November 2016 with, at worst, an even chance of winning the presidency. That’s not a bad place to be for any presidential candidate 17 months before the election. But the more one drills down into Hillary’s numbers, the less confident Democrats should be.

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Hillary Clinton and her supporters are probably telling themselves not to be alarmed by the latest CNN/ORC poll. They must acknowledge that the headlines will rightly trumpet the fact that in just two months the former First Lady has gone from a net plus 11 percent positive rating to a negative four percent in terms of her favorability. Just as bad if not worse are the numbers that tell us that clear majorities of Americans don’t consider her honest, trustworthy, care about them, or inspire confidence. But Clinton still has a staggering 46 percent lead over any other Democrat and leads all Republican contenders in head-to-head matchups, although not by the same large margins that she once enjoyed. That means that no matter what most Americans think about her, she is certain to be the Democratic nominee and head toward November 2016 with, at worst, an even chance of winning the presidency. That’s not a bad place to be for any presidential candidate 17 months before the election. But the more one drills down into Hillary’s numbers, the less confident Democrats should be.

The Clinton camp will say that once their campaign cranks up and begins spending up to $2 billion on selling the country on Hillary’s greatness and trashing Republicans, the current slide will be reversed. To some extent, they may be right. As President Obama proved in 2012, if you are able to define your opponents with ads that slime their reputations as well as negative coverage from a helpful mainstream liberal media, half the battle will already be won.

But Hillary’s rising negatives point to the basic problem facing Democrats in 2016. We have been endlessly lectured that the Democrats’ main advantage was and remains a demographic one with women and minorities voting for them in numbers sufficient to offset any GOP strengths elsewhere. That’s true, but focusing solely on that breakdown ignores the fact that the Democrats’ real advantage was in having a candidate that a majority of Americans liked and, to some extent, trusted. Though his charms were lost on most Republicans, Barack Obama was and, to some extent still is, a magical political figure. He was not only liked by most voters he also made them feel good about themselves because of his historical status as our first African-American president. Hillary may hope that being the first female president will have the same resonance, but that may be more wishful thinking than hard analysis. As much as her identity as a woman will be a huge positive factor for her candidacy, that enthusiasm is tempered by the negative view that most Americans have about her personally. Though liberals keep telling us that the Clinton Cash scandals, Benghazi, and other Clinton problems are right-wing media conspiracies, they appear to have taken a toll on Clinton’s image.

Unlike most of the Republican candidates who must struggle to become better known and then try to avoid being defined by Democratic attacks, Hillary’s not only has universal name recognition but her identity is so fixed in the public imagination that it’s not clear that negative ads would even do all that much damage to her. Large numbers of Americans like her and nothing will change that. At the same time, an equally large group dislikes her so intensely that virtually nothing could make them support her. That puts her in a far less formidable position than Obama had in either of his presidential runs. Even if we concede that the Democrats start out with a stranglehold on 247 Electoral College votes to the Republicans having 206 with only 85 toss-ups that will determine the outcome.

Winning those key swing states will require the sort of enthusiasm that Obama inspired among the base. Can Hillary have the same sort of appeal? Since hard-core Democrats don’t care about the Clintons’ scandals, the answer is maybe. But Clinton will need to do more than mobilize her base. The most discouraging numbers in the CNN poll isn’t so much those terrible numbers about trustworthiness. It’s the fact that her favorability among independents is so poor, with a 54-41 negative result.

There are some other interesting facts to be gleaned from the CNN poll on the Republican side. In terms of who is ahead among the huge GOP field, the results are as useless as that of any other national poll. The leading candidates are all bunched together with only a few percentage points separating them and those on the bottom, like Carly Fiorina and newly declared candidate Lindsey Graham barely registering any support. That tells us nothing about who is set up to do well in the early voting states or which of them has any real advantage over the others.

What is significant is that Jeb Bush, the person many anointed as the Republican frontrunner and the one best suited to win a general election, is doing worse against Clinton in head-to-head matchups than any of the others. Even worse is the fact that poll respondents identified Bush more with the past than the future by a 62-34 percent margin. That has to be extremely frustrating for him, as he hasn’t held office in over 8 years and Clinton who has played a key role in the last two Democratic administrations gets a pro-future rating by a puzzling 51-45 percent margin. It seems obvious that a lot of people are confusing him with his older brother or father, but it may also be another piece of evidence that a lot of Americans don’t like the idea of a third Bush in the White House. That puts the conventional wisdom about the inevitability of a Bush-Clinton general election very much in doubt.

Marco Rubio had better news since he not only led the pack with an admittedly meager 14 percent but was also the most popular second choice. He also had the highest rating of being identified with the future of any candidate from either party.

Taken as a whole, none of this data should change our evaluations of what sets up to be a Clinton coronation for the Democrats, a confusing scrum for the GOP, and a general election in which both sides have a chance. That’s not terrible news for Clinton, but it shows that this will be a much more competitive election than the last two presidential contests. That means Democrats who think they can’t lose the presidency need to think again.

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Team Hillary Testing How Much Hypocrisy the Left Can Endure

Based on the ebullient headline, the results of the latest New York Times/CBS News survey were precisely what the Gray Lady’s editors wanted to see. “Poll shows Americans favor overhaul of campaign financing,” the Times boomed. Implicit in the survey’s results was a rebuke of the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United, an opinion that found elements of 2002’s sweeping campaign finance reform legislation in violation of the First Amendment’s protections on speech and a decision that ushered in the era of Super PACs as we know them today. The Times apparently determined that it had won the argument, even if it lost the court case. But Democrats and their party’s likely standard-bearer ahead of the 2016 presidential race might find that adherence to principle could handicap their performance in the coming election cycle. Read More

Based on the ebullient headline, the results of the latest New York Times/CBS News survey were precisely what the Gray Lady’s editors wanted to see. “Poll shows Americans favor overhaul of campaign financing,” the Times boomed. Implicit in the survey’s results was a rebuke of the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United, an opinion that found elements of 2002’s sweeping campaign finance reform legislation in violation of the First Amendment’s protections on speech and a decision that ushered in the era of Super PACs as we know them today. The Times apparently determined that it had won the argument, even if it lost the court case. But Democrats and their party’s likely standard-bearer ahead of the 2016 presidential race might find that adherence to principle could handicap their performance in the coming election cycle.

The New York Times/CBS News survey found that voters tend to regard money in politics as generally corrupting, are mistrustful of the influence wielded by the wealthy, and are predisposed to look favorably upon the left’s policy prescriptions for reforming campaign financing. But delve deeper into the survey’s results and you’ll find that the issue is not as cut-and-dried as the Times portrayed it.

Respondents were asked an absurdly elaborate question about the nature of the private financing of political activity, which Times reporters summarized as “Are changes needed to the way political campaigns are funded in the United States?” In reality, the question was far more complex:

**Which of the following three statements comes closest to expressing your overall view of the way political campaigns are funded in the United States: 1) On the whole, the system for funding political campaigns works pretty well and only minor changes are necessary to make it work better, or 2) There are some good things in the system for funding political campaigns but fundamental changes are needed, or 3) The system for funding political campaigns has so much wrong with it that we need to completely rebuild it**

The 52 percent of respondents who answered 1 or 2 could be considered either wholly opposed to the status quo or mildly supportive of it (or, perhaps, simply resigned to the present reality). Only the 46 percent of those who selected answer 3 are unambiguously opposed to the post-Citizens United status quo. A reader would not know that from reading the Times dispatch, which averred that the 52 percent of respondents who chose answer 1 or 2 back either “minor changes” or “fundamental changes” to present campaign finance regulations.

The Times write up of this survey also did not make much note of the fact that those who think the wealthy have more influence over the process than they should dropped 9 points from just one year ago. The reporters preferred instead to remind readers that two-thirds continue to believe wealth imparts undue influence over the political process.

The quibbles with the poll and the Times/CBS poll’s wording aside, one aspect of this survey did disquiet those who favor dramatic campaign finance reforms: Only the most committed progressives care about the issue. While the public might be predisposed to gripe about campaign financing, less than one percent of respondents see it as a pressing issue.

“Democrats have long puzzled over how to make campaign finance matter to voters,” The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent observed. “They’ve wrestled the problem by trying to come up with ways to tie it to a broader argument against plutocracy, making the case that big money in politics is why the political process is paralyzed in the face of an economic playing field that is rigged for the rich and against the middle class. But plainly, this conundrum has yet to be cracked.”

Former Secretary Clinton has joined President Barack Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders in backing a constitutional amendment to limit the freedoms in the First, if only to curtail the influence high-dollar donors have over the political process. Few non-conservative observers have noted that Citizens United was a case in which the Supreme Court determined that it was unconstitutional for McCain-Feingold finance laws to criminalize the release of a movie critical of Hillary Clinton 60 days out from an election. Fewer still have remarked on the inherent unseemliness of the former secretary’s desire to see the Constitution amended so that it might once again be illegal to criticize her. Perhaps that admission would compel the left to endure an unwelcome critical self-examination of their anti-Citizens United crusade’s presumed moral righteousness.

For now, liberals remain steadfastly committed to the notion that big money should be forcibly removed from the political process. Unfortunately for Democrats, the left’s high-dollar donor class agrees. According to a David Brock-authored memo obtained by Politico, pro-Clinton forces are busily attempting to assuage liberal donors’ concerns about Clinton’s progressive bona fides and cajoling them to open their pockets so that she might compete against the likes of the omnipresent Koch brothers next year.

The contradictory nature of Team Clinton’s approach is self-evident: In order to get big money out of politics, you have to put some big money into it. Just this once, of course. But anyone who has been following the Clinton Foundation’s ethically challenged fundraising practices, Hillary Clinton’s thinly veiled quid pro quo solicitations, or Bill Clinton’s income-shielding shell company should already be sufficiently suspicious of the Clinton family’s commitment to ridding the world of money’s devious influence.

“How can we stand up here and expect to be taken seriously talking about what they are doing when we are doing the same thing?” read one of the Brock memo’s illustrative Frequently Asked Questions.

“We will play by the existing rules in this election because we cannot unilaterally disarm – too much of what we care about is at stake,” the memo answered. “People in this room are not motivated by personal gain, and often work against their own self-interest.”

This is the kind of self-flattery to which the left has come accustomed, particularly from friendly outlets like the New York Times and Brock’s various pro-Clinton vehicles. Surely, there will be those principled liberals who subordinate their deeply-held values to what they have convinced themselves is the greater good and open their wallets for Hillary. But how many Democratic donors will remember Barack Obama’s aborted pledge to campaign only with the aid of public financing in 2007, or his broken promise to avoid using Super PACs in 2012 out of principle? How many Democrats will refuse to allow themselves to not be fooled twice by those liberals who pay lip service to the problem of unaccountable money in politics but never seem to act on their promises to address it? Only a handful, perhaps. But that handful will decide that there are better things to do with their income than contribute it to another broken promise in the making.

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Hillary Clinton’s Other Mitt Romney Problem

According to NBC News, Hillary Clinton has a “Romney problem.” The prohibitive Democratic presidential nominee has apparently exposed herself to justified attacks on her wealth similar to those that dogged the former Massachusetts governor in the last presidential cycle. “With the election still more than a year away, Hillary Clinton is trying to avoid making her wealth a liability, like Mitt Romney in 2012,” MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell said on Sunday’s Meet the Press. It’s true that Romney’s success captivated the imaginations of narrative-setting political reporters, and those in the press would be guilty of observing a double standard if they didn’t note that Clinton has shown that she is just as self-conscious about her family’s income. But that’s not the only “Romney problem” that could prove vexing for Clinton in 2016. Read More

According to NBC News, Hillary Clinton has a “Romney problem.” The prohibitive Democratic presidential nominee has apparently exposed herself to justified attacks on her wealth similar to those that dogged the former Massachusetts governor in the last presidential cycle. “With the election still more than a year away, Hillary Clinton is trying to avoid making her wealth a liability, like Mitt Romney in 2012,” MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell said on Sunday’s Meet the Press. It’s true that Romney’s success captivated the imaginations of narrative-setting political reporters, and those in the press would be guilty of observing a double standard if they didn’t note that Clinton has shown that she is just as self-conscious about her family’s income. But that’s not the only “Romney problem” that could prove vexing for Clinton in 2016.

In a recent column, National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar took a critical look at the phenomenon of presidential candidate and self-described socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, and his apparent appeal to those Democrats who are not “Ready for Hillary.” Sanders’ viability as a Democratic standard-bearer is not derived from his compelling speaking skills or credible policy positions, Kraushaar submitted, but it’s his unashamed support for far-left dogma that appeals to a progressive element within the Democratic Party that is no longer isolated on the party’s peripheral fringes.

“Sanders’ early prominence is not a reflection of Sanders himself,” Kraushaar wrote. “Instead, he’s serving as the avatar for the emboldened attitude of the party’s progressive wing.”

And the socialist from Vermont who honeymooned in the Soviet Union is starting to generate a substantial amount of support from the Democratic Party’s far-left primary voters. “Judging from Mr. Sanders’s trip here last week, there is real support for his message,” a recent dispatch from Iowa in the New York Times read. “Even before Mr. Sanders drew unexpected levels of support at this Iowa event, advisers to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign were emphasizing that they expected the caucuses to be competitive.”

Indeed. On Monday, Clinton’s campaign forwarded to reporters background information talking down the former secretary’s prospects in the early states. “[N]o Democratic candidate for president has ever received more than 50% of the caucus vote unless they were a sitting President or Vice President, or incumbent Iowa Senator,” Clinton’s campaign averred. “In New Hampshire, no Democrat in a contested primary in the last 25 years has won by more than 27,000 votes or received more than 50% of the vote.”

Why all the expectation setting? Perhaps because Sanders isn’t as marginal a threat to Clinton as he should be, given his immoderate policy preferences. While Clinton retains her status as the likely caucus winner according to the findings in a new Bloomberg poll of Hawkeye State Democrats, Sanders has more than tripled his support among Democratic primary voters since January. The Vermont senator now draws 16 percent support from liberal Iowans while another 47 percent have a favorable view of him.  Although this is a paltry amount of support compared to Clinton 57 percent, she is not taking the threat from her left flank lightly.

Progressive Democrats long ago declared their intention to pull Clinton to the left, and they have largely succeeded. Today, when she is not avoiding the press, Clinton spends most of her time denouncing the achievements of her centrist husband, the 42nd President of the United Sates. Real Clear Politics analyst Sean Trende observed that Clinton’s leftward drift is measurable. What’s more, it might be shrewd politics; maintaining the integrity of Barack Obama’s electoral coalition will be crucial if Clinton hopes to secure a third consecutive term for Democrats in the White House.

This leads us to Kraushaar’s next astute observation, which could be considered Clinton’s other Mitt Romney problem. “Sanders is poised to play the same role as Mitt Romney’s 2012 GOP tormentors, a motley cast of characters who stood no chance of winning the nomination but gradually pushed Romney to the right,” he wrote. “After all, Romney’s infamous line about ‘self-deportation’ was a reaction to the fear that he was vulnerable on his right flank from the likes of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.”

Truly. Those Republicans who are consumed with worry over the crowded GOP field and the prospect that the stacked primary debate stage could force the eventual GOP nominee too far to the right while Hillary Clinton is pandering to voters seduced by a reformed Soviet sympathizer are fighting the last war.

If the press was convinced that Mitt Romney had lurched too far to the right when he advocated for “self-deportation,” what can the commentary class honestly say of Clinton’s advocacy for a constitutional amendment to limit the freedoms in the First other than that it is genuinely extremist?  If Clinton has been compelled to renounce her husband’s criminal justice reforms and praise one-term New York City Mayor David Dinkins’ approach to quality of life policing, how can Clinton possibly retain her claim to represent the moderate middle?

“The big story here is that an avowed socialist who voted with the Democratic Party in the Senate, but wouldn’t join it, now feels comfortable seeking its presidential nomination,” Washington Post opinion writer Charles Lane observed. “This says a lot about the party’s long-term ideological trajectory, and Clinton’s compatibility with it, or lack thereof.”

Clinton will emerge from this primary process a candidate pushed farther to the left than those concerned with her electability might like. It will be incumbent on an establishment political press that implicitly blamed GOP primary participants for Romney’s failure to connect with a majority of general election voters to observe that Clinton is running a similar risk. Of course, it goes without saying that expecting that display of consistency from the media a dubious prospect.

 

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The Reason Why Bernie’s Booming

Maybe the New York Times is getting ahead of itself with its article today that proclaims, “Bernie Sanders Gains Momentum in Iowa.” The latest Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll of likely Democratic in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses shows that Hillary Clinton leads the race with 57 percent with Sanders still far behind at 16 percent. But, it must be conceded that for a candidate with little money and no realistic chance of actually winning the nomination, the Vermont senator is doing pretty well, especially when compared with former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley who declared his candidacy over the weekend yet is stuck at a paltry 2 percent in the same poll. Sanders is drawing relatively large crowds and, if he continues to gain ground in the polls, will attract more money. What’s putting the wind in the sails of the Socialist-turned independent running as a Democrat? The answer is simple: Though Democrats don’t want a messy primary, everybody likes a principled underdog. And Sanders is an underdog straight out of central casting.

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Maybe the New York Times is getting ahead of itself with its article today that proclaims, “Bernie Sanders Gains Momentum in Iowa.” The latest Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll of likely Democratic in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses shows that Hillary Clinton leads the race with 57 percent with Sanders still far behind at 16 percent. But, it must be conceded that for a candidate with little money and no realistic chance of actually winning the nomination, the Vermont senator is doing pretty well, especially when compared with former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley who declared his candidacy over the weekend yet is stuck at a paltry 2 percent in the same poll. Sanders is drawing relatively large crowds and, if he continues to gain ground in the polls, will attract more money. What’s putting the wind in the sails of the Socialist-turned independent running as a Democrat? The answer is simple: Though Democrats don’t want a messy primary, everybody likes a principled underdog. And Sanders is an underdog straight out of central casting.

Those who have noticed the fragility of Clinton’s candidacy are almost certainly wrong if they think she will collapse before she is anointed at their national convention next year in Philadelphia. The Clinton machine isn’t to be underestimated. The lack of a credible challenger in the mode of a Barack Obama means the narrative about the former First Lady becoming our first female president is an irresistible force that will not be turned aside.

But even if we understand that there is no way she is losing the nomination, the notion that the primaries will be a cakewalk for her is equally mistaken. There are enough left-wing Democrats who rightly see Clinton as an unprincipled chameleon bereft of principles other than an all-consuming ambition to fuel a serious challenge. Moreover, the inevitability of Clinton’s ultimate victory makes it all the more attractive for Democratic voters to cast protest votes that will, they think, send a message to the candidate, not to move too far to the center once the general election begins. The stage is set for someone to give Clinton a run for her money while not having much of a chance to actually beat her short of a complete implosion on her part. And even then, it’s not clear how badly she would have to blow herself up in order for her candidacy to completely collapse.

That only leaves the question as to who is the Democrat who can play that role?

Given the long odds, it’s understandable that not many have volunteered to be Hillary’s sparring partner. Despite his burning desire for the presidency, the bereaved Vice President Biden appears to understand that he can’t win. Other prominent Democrats, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, the darling of the left and perhaps the most credible of all possible anti-Hillary possibilities, also lack the appetite for tilting at the Clinton windmill.

O’Malley is interested and his challenge is logical if you consider him as beginning an effort that could eventually lead to victory in a future election cycle. An attractive, charismatic liberal with a good record as a mayor and a governor, O’Malley has a resume that ought to make him the most likely person to benefit from resentment of Clinton’s inevitability as well as unrest on the left. But he’s discovering that his calculation was incorrect. In fact, it is his credibility and Sanders’ lack of presidential stature that makes the latter a far better candidate to play the role of potential spoiler.

It’s likely that no one in the Sanders camp, least of all the candidate himself, thinks he can be nominated let alone win the presidency. But it’s his unsuitability that will allow him to be an effective gadfly against a certain winner. Since no one thinks Hillary can lose, that frees up anyone who has a complaint about Clinton, or the party establishment, or anything to vote for Sanders without believing they are actually putting him a step closer to the White House.

It should be noted that the underwhelming response to the revelation that Sanders wrote an article speculating about female rape fantasies could be traced in part to this same factor. Let’s concede that if a Republican had written anything like the bizarre piece the Vermont socialist penned, they would be given the Todd Akin treatment on every front page in the country and likely drummed out of public life while the story would be used as a cudgel in the Democrats fake “war on women” campaign. Instead, the mainstream liberal press has largely smirked, buried the story, and moved on from it as they generally do when their side is caught with their pants down.

But in an odd way Sanders’ rape fantasies play into the idea that he’s a quirky original with idiosyncrasies should be winked at. If so, that says something troubling about Democrats and the culture. But it is also a problem for Hillary, since it shows that there is nothing that Sanders can do to be disqualified from a perch from which he can endlessly flay her over lack of authenticity and chronic flip-flopping. The crazier Sanders appears, the more her carefully scripted and utterly fake approach to campaigning (illustrated so aptly by the astonishing and brazen way she changes her accent depending on which region of the country she is in at the time) looks.

No, Sanders can’t beat Hillary in Iowa or New Hampshire. But he is set up to win the expectations game in every contest and make her life miserable. That will be frustrating for her as well as O’Malley. But given the fact that there is nothing the Clinton attack machine can say or do that would undermine him any more than the things that come out of his own mouth and record, there’s nothing she will be able to do to stop him from becoming a left-wing folk hero. The Bernie momentum story will last far longer than she or most Democrats would like.

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Labor’s Languid Revolt

Organized labor’s ebbing political clout is perhaps best exemplified by AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka’s plaintive appeal for attention this weekend in the form of an ultimatum to his erstwhile allies in the Democratic Party. In a direct threat aimed at the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, Hilary Clinton, Trumka insisted this weekend that she might forfeit the endorsement of the largest labor union in the United States if she does not show some spine and join with the left wing of her party in condemning the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal. It’s a sad and hollow threat, a “red line” that the union president is likely to regret drawing. The political forces compelling Clinton to be coy about the TPP are far more compelling than anything the AFL-CIO can muster. Read More

Organized labor’s ebbing political clout is perhaps best exemplified by AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka’s plaintive appeal for attention this weekend in the form of an ultimatum to his erstwhile allies in the Democratic Party. In a direct threat aimed at the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, Hilary Clinton, Trumka insisted this weekend that she might forfeit the endorsement of the largest labor union in the United States if she does not show some spine and join with the left wing of her party in condemning the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal. It’s a sad and hollow threat, a “red line” that the union president is likely to regret drawing. The political forces compelling Clinton to be coy about the TPP are far more compelling than anything the AFL-CIO can muster.

Of course, former Secretary of State Clinton has in no uncertain terms already endorsed the TPP. She called it the “gold standard in trade agreements” and argued in her 2014 autobiography, Hard Choices, that the deal “would link markets throughout Asia and the Americas, lowering trade barriers while raising standards on labor, the environment, and intellectual property.” But Clinton began to moderate her position on the trade deal when her party’s vocal progressive elements began to oppose it. Faced with a genuine hard choice in the form of either standing on principle or placating the Democratic Party’s left wing, Clinton has succumbed to paralysis.

“She will be watching closely to see what is being done to crack down on currency manipulation, improve labor rights, protect the environment and health, promote transparency and open new opportunities for our small businesses to export overseas,” read a statement released by Team Clinton when it became clear her support for the TPP might add fuel to yet another 2008-style liberal mutiny against her.

For his part, Trumka remains unimpressed.

“She’s going to have to answer that,” the labor boss told USA Today’s Susan Page. “I think she won’t be able to go through a campaign without answering that and people will take it seriously and it will affect whether they vote for her or don’t vote for her.”

“It will be tougher to mobilize working people,” Trumka added. “It’ll be tougher to get them to come out excited and work to do door-knocking and leafleting and phone-banking and all the things that are going to be necessary if she is the candidate and we endorse her to get elected. It will make it far more difficult.” According to Page’s reporting, Trumka even hinted that it was “conceivable” for the AFL-CIO to withhold its endorsement in 2016 if Clinton did not get religion on free, global trade – and soon.

Trumka’s threat is an empty one. The rapid deflation of the power of the organized labor movement in America is one of the most fascinating political trends of the 21st Century, and Trumka’s halfhearted challenge is reflective of that phenomenon. In early 2013, the New York Times observed that the “contained expansion” of manufacturing in nonunionized states (read: Right to Work) has shrunk labor union membership to a 97-year low at just over 11 percent of the American workforce. Private sector labor union membership has continued to decline over the last two years, and the decrease would be more pronounced if it were not artificially inflated by compulsory public sector unionization.

“It’s time for unions to stop being clever about excuses for why membership is declining, and its time to figure out how to devise appeals to the workers out there,” a distraught Clark University industrial relations professor told the Times in 2013. But labor has responded to this newfound adversity as it always has; by using its remaining influence to compel lawmakers to erect contrived barriers that protect its sway over the American worker.

But much of labor’s leverage is gone for good. 25 states are now without compulsory unionization laws, including places where the labor movement in the United States began like Michigan and Wisconsin. Only the nation’s bluest states continue to resist the tides of change.

Can anyone truly imagine Trumka and the AFL-CIO sitting 2016 out if the Republican Party nominates Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker?  The governor humbled national organized labor by winning two statewide elections even after he gutted the prohibitive power of labor in the Badger State. Would Trumka’s organization implicitly acknowledge its own marginalization by failing to endorse, thereby risking the possibility that no one would care?

“What the labor movement now has to ask itself is: How could it lose three times — in 2010, a 2012 recall vote and now in Walker’s 2014 re-election — to the nation’s most blatantly anti-union governor?” Politico’s labor editor Timothy Noah asked after Walker’s most recent statewide victory. “How especially in Wisconsin, cradle of the early 20th-century Progressive movement and birthplace of public-sector unionism? If not here, where?”

For all their lost influence, the Democratic Party cannot afford to lose labor just yet. The progressive populist backlash to the TPP and unions’ significant campaign contributions ensure that organized  labor remains relevant. But Trumka will find that his attempt to press those advantages labor still enjoys an ill-fated exercise.

The scale of labor’s humiliation is so dramatic that even Trumka’s friends in the Senate have turned their backs on him. “Thirteen Democrats left their base,” he said of the Democratic senators who reluctantly voted to provide Barack Obama with trade promotional authority. “They’ll be held accountable; there’s no question about that.”

Again, Trumka’s failure to appreciate his own tenuous position would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

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An Heir But No Spare

The slow drip of scandal surrounding the Clintons continues apace.

Yesterday, a federal judge ordered the State Department to release the 55,000 emails that Hillary Clinton turned over as being concerned with official business on a monthly basis, all of them by next January, before the first primary. The 300 emails that the State Department released late on Friday afternoon last week (just before a three-day weekend, a classic ploy to minimize attention) proved more than newsworthy, so one can only wonder what is in the remaining 54,700.

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The slow drip of scandal surrounding the Clintons continues apace.

Yesterday, a federal judge ordered the State Department to release the 55,000 emails that Hillary Clinton turned over as being concerned with official business on a monthly basis, all of them by next January, before the first primary. The 300 emails that the State Department released late on Friday afternoon last week (just before a three-day weekend, a classic ploy to minimize attention) proved more than newsworthy, so one can only wonder what is in the remaining 54,700.

It has also come out that Bill Clinton formed a shell company in Delaware as a pass-through to receive income. Even more interesting is the fact that it was formed on December 3rd, 2008, two days after President-elect Obama named Hillary as his secretary of state.

And yesterday as Swiss authorities were rounding the upper echelons of FIFA, which governs professional soccer, for decades of corruption, it turns out that one of the major donors to the Clinton Foundation (between $250,000 and $500,000) is (wait for it!) FIFA. As Paul Mirengoff of Power Line puts it, “where’s there’s corruption, there’s the Clinton Foundation.”

Candidates can suddenly become non-viable. In 2002, Senator Bob Torricelli of New Jersey was running for re-election when it came out that David Chang, who had ties to North Korea, had made illegal campaign contributions to him. He had no choice but to withdraw and be replaced on the Democratic line by former Senator Frank Lautenberg.

Could it happen to Hillary? You bet. There is an ever-growing legion of reporters, sniffing blood, looking into the Clintons’ tangled affairs. The slow drip could turn into a torrent and Hillary might have no choice but to decide to spend more time with her grandchildren.

So it seems to me that the Democratic Party should follow the traditional plan of royalty and have both an heir and a spare.

But who could the spare be? Joe Biden? He would dearly love the job, but he’ll turn 74 in November, 2016, far older than any previous president’s first election, and he’s generally regarded as a bit of a joke. Elizabeth Warren? She’s no spring chicken herself at 65, and she’s so far to the left that she’d be George McGovern in a pants suit. Bernie Sanders? He’s announced, but he’ll be 75 on Election Day and he’s an avowed socialist who advocates a 90 percent tax rate for high earners. Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland? Well, at least he’s not receiving Social Security (he’s 52).  But his own lieutenant governor couldn’t carry this deep blue state in last year’s election, despite O’Malley’s energetic campaigning for him. Jim Webb, former senator from Virginia? He’s a centrist, which means the Democratic base would go ballistic (not to mention stay home on Election Day).

Who else is there? I really can’t think of anyone.

The Democrats, in their own self-interest, had better start looking for a spare, in case the heir implodes.

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Does Hillary Clinton Think Bill Clinton’s Presidency Was a Disaster?

If and when journalists get the chance to sit down across from Hillary Clinton, they will have a bear of a time picking and choosing the subjects on which to grill her. From her private email server, to her family foundation’s myriad improprieties, to the increasingly deteriorating global security situation that began its backwards slide under her watch as America’s chief diplomat; reporters have an embarrassment of riches in the form of issues on which to press Clinton. But the Steve Krofts of the world like to take a 30,000-foot perspective in the gauzy profile packages to which American television audiences will be privy, and the granular details above might seem to Clinton’s interlocutors minutia that won’t capture the viewer’s attention. In order to sate the press’s desire to both make news and to ensure the viewing audience doesn’t tune out, I’d submit the following question: Does Hillary Clinton believe her husband’s presidency set the Democratic Party back?

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If and when journalists get the chance to sit down across from Hillary Clinton, they will have a bear of a time picking and choosing the subjects on which to grill her. From her private email server, to her family foundation’s myriad improprieties, to the increasingly deteriorating global security situation that began its backwards slide under her watch as America’s chief diplomat; reporters have an embarrassment of riches in the form of issues on which to press Clinton. But the Steve Krofts of the world like to take a 30,000-foot perspective in the gauzy profile packages to which American television audiences will be privy, and the granular details above might seem to Clinton’s interlocutors minutia that won’t capture the viewer’s attention. In order to sate the press’s desire to both make news and to ensure the viewing audience doesn’t tune out, I’d submit the following question: Does Hillary Clinton believe her husband’s presidency set the Democratic Party back?

Of course, Clinton’s reflexive answer would be an emphatic “no.” She might also posture indignantly for effect, a road-worn tactic that nevertheless retains its inexplicable ability to spook reporters into apologetic retreat. But there is precious little evidence that Clinton really does believe her husband’s presidency was a success. In fact, there are many indications that would lead a neutral observer to conclude that Bill Clinton’s presidency is anathema to modern Democrats.

Bill Clinton was elected to office as a Southern Democratic centrist with the aid of the Democratic Leadership Council, a policy shop designed to help rehabilitate a party brand that was at the time still reeling from the Jimmy Carter-era perception that it had become too liberal to represent the nation. Political observers had every reason to believe that, despite his 370 Electoral College vote victory, Clinton’s election was no mandate for Democrats but rather a rejection of George H. W. Bush. Clinton won merely 43 percent of the popular vote in a three-way race, and only won his party’s nomination after a come from behind victory over the more doctrinaire liberals seeking the nomination. If Clinton had a mandate, it was to govern from the center. With the exception of his pursuit of a significant tax hike in 1993, that’s precisely what he did.

Fast-forward to today, and Hillary Clinton has been compelled on a variety of occasions to renounce her husband’s greatest achievements. In the wake of the unrest in Baltimore last month, Clinton delivered a speech in which she advocated for an end to “mass incarceration” in America. Inherent in that address was her contention, one shared by her husband, that the landmark 1994 crime bill was discriminatory.

During his tenure, Bill Clinton signed into law measures that expanded the death penalty, promoted longer prison terms, funded the construction of new prisons, eliminated inmate amenities, barred felons from living in public housing, and discouraged judicial discretion. “We went too far,” Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin lamented on May 1 when reflecting on the Clinton presidency’s approach to crime and justice. “I think that the results,” Hillary Clinton said of the justice reforms that she lobbied for strongly in 1994, “have been an unacceptable increase in incarceration across the board.”

Surely, only a handful of Democrats lamented the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law just weeks before Bill Clinton was easily reelected. In 2013, former President Clinton expressed regrets for signing that law, but not for running campaign advertisements on Christian radio stations in 1996 bragging about that achievement. Moreover, Clinton’s decision to sign into law federal restrictions on allowing HIV-positive travelers to enter the United States, a ban only lifted in 2009 by Barack Obama’s administration, has long been regarded by the gay and lesbian community as a betrayal.

In a contentious interview with NPR host Terry Gross last year, Clinton lashed out when she was asked why she only came out in support of same-sex marriage after both Barack Obama and Joe Biden. In that argumentative interview, Clinton insisted that DOMA was designed to prohibit the Congress from enacting sexually discriminatory laws by kicking the issue down to the states. As The Atlantic’s Connor Friedersdorf noted, however, Clinton had “distorted” the history of DOMA. “I have long opposed governmental recognition of same-gender marriages,” Bill Clinton said in 1996, “and this legislation is consistent with that position.”

And what of the signature welfare reform bill that Bill Clinton deftly negotiated with a newly GOP-dominated Congress? That measure was presaged when the 42nd President declared in his 1996 State of the Union address that the “era of big government is over,” and, a decade later, was responsible for a marked decline in poverty rates. So what does Hillary Clinton have to say about this landmark reform? No comment. “A Clinton aide declined to answer whether Clinton still supports her husband’s welfare reform law,” Vox’s Jonathan Allen reported after noting that minority Democrats were and remain suspicious of that package of reform laws. A simple “yes” would have sufficed if that is what she believed. Apparently, the answer Clinton would like to give is more complex than that.

Don’t even ask about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). That controversial free trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico has only grown more controversial for those on the left as progressives condemn President Barack Obama and his pursuit of a similar arrangement with a variety of Asian nations. Clinton once vocally supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but she has since moderated her position on the issue by insisting she doesn’t have one.

But what of Hillary Clinton’s preferred approach to foreign crises? Bill Clinton’s approach to containing Saddam Hussein’s post-Gulf War Iraq was to launch attacks on government targets in 1993, 1996, and 1998. Hillary Clinton now insists it was a mistake to topple that vile regime, and she regrets voting to provide George W. Bush with that authority even if the world is better off without Hussein.

Clinton’s husband pursued a policy of rapprochement with Iran by compensating the Islamic Republic for the deaths of over 250 Iranians who died after an American naval vessel in 1988 shot down their plane and by essentially apologizing for the 1953 CIA-assisted coup that overthrew former Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddiq. Today, Hillary Clinton ostensibly supports Barack Obama’s efforts to seal a mutually beneficial nuclear deal with Iran, she is “skeptical that the Iranians will follow through and deliver.” Don’t sweat the cognitive dissonance.

Formerly a vocal supporter of the once vogue academic notion of America’s “responsibility to protect” civilian life (R2P), Clinton justified intervention in the Libyan civil war by noting America has a moral imperative to protect noncombatants when and where it can. This was logic similar to that which her husband applied before committing to multinational foreign intervention in the former Yugoslavia in 1995 and 1998. Clearly, that formerly preferred praxis went out of style the moment Bashar al-Assad began deploying chemical weapons against his own civilian population. While Hillary Clinton has insisted that she would have vetted and armed moderate Syrian rebels faster than the Obama administration, she opposed to introducing American boots into the Syrian conflict as recently as last autumn.

While it takes a fair bit of inference to identify Clinton’s stances on these issues, seeing as she is fond of maintaining vague and amorphous policy positions, it’s clear that Hillary Clinton does not regard her husband’s presidency as one replete with successes. That’s not a personal conviction, of course; you would be hard pressed to identify any sincerely held and necessarily constricting values espoused by the former secretary of state. Her disparagements of her husband’s legacy are solely designed to appeal to an influential subset in the Democratic Party that has veered wildly leftward in the interim 15 years. If Hillary Clinton is to win the White House, it seems that her fellow Democrats will make sure that she is compelled to renounce all her husband’s works in the process.

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Will Hillary Jump Start Fiorina’s Candidacy?

Yesterday, Carly Fiorina went to Columbia, South Carolina intending to ambush Hillary Clinton who was there for a speaking engagement. Clinton was, as is her usual practice, not offering any press availability. So while the crowd of journalists following the former First Lady offered Fiorina a large media audience, they vented their frustration on her and subjected the former Hewlett-Packard CEO to the kind of tough questioning that Clinton has so far evaded. It made for a difficult few moments for Fiorina and the encounter left some observers wondering whether she was hurting herself more than helping by seeming to shadow Clinton. In a race with up to 20 candidates competing for the Republican presidential nomination where all are fighting for attention, it appears that being the scourge of Hillary has become both Fiorina’s political identity and her only shot at edging her way into contention. Will that be enough?

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Yesterday, Carly Fiorina went to Columbia, South Carolina intending to ambush Hillary Clinton who was there for a speaking engagement. Clinton was, as is her usual practice, not offering any press availability. So while the crowd of journalists following the former First Lady offered Fiorina a large media audience, they vented their frustration on her and subjected the former Hewlett-Packard CEO to the kind of tough questioning that Clinton has so far evaded. It made for a difficult few moments for Fiorina and the encounter left some observers wondering whether she was hurting herself more than helping by seeming to shadow Clinton. In a race with up to 20 candidates competing for the Republican presidential nomination where all are fighting for attention, it appears that being the scourge of Hillary has become both Fiorina’s political identity and her only shot at edging her way into contention. Will that be enough?

Heading into 2015, Fiorina’s candidacy seemed to be pointless. She had no political experience other than an unsuccessful run for a California Senate seat in 2010. Nor had she a claim on the loyalty of any of her party’s key constituencies like the Tea Party, social conservatives, foreign policy hawks or the establishment. But over the course of the last several months, she has parlayed a tart speaking style and clever barbs aimed at Hillary Clinton into some attention if not good poll numbers.

There’s no question that her reception at campaign cattle calls and on the stump has been good. Republicans seem to like her. And they love her ability to call out Clinton. Her stock attack lines about the former secretary of state needing to learn that “flying is an activity, not an accomplishment,” has made her something of a GOP star.

The fact that liberals are starting to attack Fiorina and deriding her as lacking the qualifications for the presidency and merely being a GOP version of affirmative action shows that her arrows have found their target. The resentment against Fiorina from liberals, and especially liberal women, is visceral. Their ire is not so much about her views on the issues as it is the fact that Fiorina’s gender allows her to take shots at Clinton in a manner that no man could do without being excoriated for sexism.

That makes her a useful weapon in the GOP arsenal. But is it enough to make her candidacy viable? The jury is still out on that question.

So far, all the good press she’s gotten hasn’t yet translated into a surge in the polls. The latest Quinnipiac Poll that was published today shows her with just two percent support. That’s not laughable in a field that big and with there being a five-way tie for first place. Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee all have just ten percent. But it still leaves her in a statistical tie for tenth place trailing Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and even the comical Donald Trump ahead of her. Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has neither campaigned nor declared his intention to run, is tied with her at two percent.

Being ahead of Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham is not a negligible achievement but it also means she is in great peril of not finishing in the top ten and being, therefore, ineligible for the first GOP debate on Fox.

Thus, while it is fair to say that merely being the Republican’s designated hitter on Clinton doesn’t do much to highlight Fiorina’s case for the presidency, it does get her some attention that she might otherwise never get. The problem is that there is a difference between assuming the role of the thorn in Clinton’s side and being a serious presidential contender.

Fiorina is an impressive speaker and the more she gets a chance to appear on national forums, the better she is likely to do. But that doesn’t change the fact that she hasn’t got a core group of voters or base within the party. So long as that is true most political observers will continue to believe that she is really running for the vice presidency or a Cabinet post in a future Republican administration.

But right now, her goal is to get on the stage at the Fox debate in August. If she keeps hitting Clinton hard while also avoiding gaffes, she has a fighting chance of making the first cut and raising enough money to continue her effort. Whether or not Democrats like it, Fiorina’s anti-Hillary barbs have been hitting home. They may be enough to keep Fiorina in the race until the voting starts next winter. Though it may not provide her with a path to the nomination, let alone the presidency, Hillary is jump-starting Fiorina’s campaign.

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Why Hillary’s Listening Tour Is a Mistake

Not everything is going as planned in Hillary Clinton’s world. The putative Democratic presidential nominee’s listening tour is intended to ease her transition into the race providing her with maximum visibility and minimal exposure to press scrutiny. However, the controversies over her emails, the Clinton Cash scandal, and her Sidney Blumenthal connection and questions about the former First Family’s ethics have overshadowed her campaign appearances. Her refusal to grant even occasional press availabilities also turned into a story. Just as problematic is the fact that the dog-and-pony shows that were set up for her have a phony feel to them that has done little to shake off her political rust or to convince voters she really cares about them. But there are a couple of other serious problems to ponder here as she sits and listens to people recruited to talk to her. One has to do with the listening tour idea itself, and the other is how it is affecting her campaign.

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Not everything is going as planned in Hillary Clinton’s world. The putative Democratic presidential nominee’s listening tour is intended to ease her transition into the race providing her with maximum visibility and minimal exposure to press scrutiny. However, the controversies over her emails, the Clinton Cash scandal, and her Sidney Blumenthal connection and questions about the former First Family’s ethics have overshadowed her campaign appearances. Her refusal to grant even occasional press availabilities also turned into a story. Just as problematic is the fact that the dog-and-pony shows that were set up for her have a phony feel to them that has done little to shake off her political rust or to convince voters she really cares about them. But there are a couple of other serious problems to ponder here as she sits and listens to people recruited to talk to her. One has to do with the listening tour idea itself, and the other is how it is affecting her campaign.

Let’s start by granting that there is something appealing about a powerful person deigning to listen to the concerns of the people. Americans like their politicians to at least pretend that they care about them. Some, like Hillary’s husband Bill, turned it into an art form. But unlike her spouse, Hillary isn’t very good at the show of “feeling the pain” of others. Though she asks questions and listens intently, these photo ops have the feel of an audience with a queen rather than a politician humbly asking for support.

More to the point, instead of Democrat central casting providing peasants and villagers as props for Clinton, the notion of a candidate who only listens or pretends to do so, is counter-intuitive to the presidential election process. What citizens in a democracy need from our candidates is not so much the opportunity to tell a monarch our problems as to know what they think and want to do if we give them the power they are asking us for.

This is especially true for Clinton who has never seemed as comfortable in her own skin as better politicians like her husband or Barack Obama, the man who beat her in 2008, the last time her party was about to hand her their nomination on a silver platter. Is Hillary the tough centrist that ran eight years ago? Or is she a rebooted Elizabeth Warren clone who can rally the left wing of a party that thinks of her being as too close to Wall Street donors for their comfort?

We don’t know the answers to those questions and we’re not likely to get any so long as she is posing as the nation’s listening post.

But while a listening tour was a reasonable tactic during a period of the campaign in which she would do best to merely tread water, Clinton’s response to the people she meets is accentuating the authenticity problem.

As the New York Times reports, Clinton is bombarding her policy shop headquartered back in Brooklyn with ideas that come up as a result of her encounters in Iowa. One day, she’s fascinated with helping small businesses in what appears to be a case of her adopting the Republicans “you built that” theme from their 2012 national convention. The next, she’s back to talking about student loan debt. Then it’s back to health care, her first national political disaster.

These are all things we want our candidates to know about, but one gets the impression that Hillary is using these audiences with her public in a way that isn’t entirely healthy for her campaign. It’s not just that her campaign is short on concrete ideas and proposals. It’s that her lack of core beliefs and willingness to say whatever people want helps create an incoherent narrative that undermines any sense that she has a coherent vision of what her presidency would stand for.

Perhaps Clinton is so well-known a political brand that, unlike other candidates, she doesn’t have to convince people to identify her with a particular set of beliefs or stands on the issues. But what comes through in her listening tour is the idea that she’s taking notes on what worries voters, and she’ll get back to us later on how to incorporate those concerns in her rhetoric. The Clinton candidacy isn’t so much listening, as it is a marketing firm for a product conducting focus groups in order to mold their commodity into something people would buy.

For a candidate whose greatest flaw is a lack of authenticity, this is the worst possible strategy that can be imagined. Clinton can’t feel our pain with sincerity any more than she can tell us why she is running for president other than to give us our first woman commander-in-chief. That’s not an unworthy goal, and might be enough to win her the presidency if the Republicans field a weak candidate to oppose her. But at a stage of the election cycle when she should be establishing her identity, all she seems to be doing is reminding us that she’s still working on creating one.

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The Left’s Shaming of Scott Walker

For those on the left, there is a crisis in America: A crisis of judgmentalism. Among the class of liberal activists, it seems as though no offense to sensibilities is as unpleasant as the articulation of one’s disapproval of socially objectionable behavior.

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For those on the left, there is a crisis in America: A crisis of judgmentalism. Among the class of liberal activists, it seems as though no offense to sensibilities is as unpleasant as the articulation of one’s disapproval of socially objectionable behavior.

Liberals are aware of the acute health emergency posed by obesity and are foursquare behind taxpayer-funded efforts to regulate and monitor the public’s calorie intake, but don’t you dare “fat-shame.” Similarly, most liberals would concede that the transmission of STDs and profligate pregnancy outside wedlock are nothing to be proud of, but “slut-shaming” is the height of hypercritical disparagement. It’s certainly not advisable to imbibe to a point where you might become unaware of your surroundings and endanger yourself and others, but only a despicable scold would indulge in “drunk-shaming.” Competition is key to success and students should be encouraged to perform their best, but posting a class’s test grades for all to see is a gross example of “grade-shaming.” And don’t you dare question the validity of the shaming above lest you be accused of “shame-shaming.”

“If it feels good, do it” has been appended to include the addendum, “with impunity.” Freedom from consequence has become the paramount goal, even if the actions in question are deleterious to society. The ironic twist to all this is that the left’s antipathy toward those deemed overly judgmental is, in fact, being judgmental. I know, I know; consistency, hobgoblins, small minds, and all that.

There are, however, some examples of shaming that the left continues to find noble. It is no accident that the targets of their censure are exclusively conservative, the ultimate offense meriting a scolding. The latest target of the left’s lofty discrimination is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. According to a prominent Hillary Clinton donor, Walker’s failure to graduate college with a degree renders him intellectually incapable of occupying the Oval Office.

In an interview with The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff, Clinton donor and Florida-based attorney John Morgan unloaded on Walker and the fundamental trait that should disqualify him from holding office higher than the chief executive of a state.

Warning: Salty language to follow:

“Walker would be the first president with a GED,” Morgan said, alluding to the fact that the Wisconsin governor doesn’t have a college degree. “We just cannot have a dumb shit as president. Total dumb shit.”

Walker’s team didn’t comment on the “dumb shit” characterization.

Morgan went on to call former Hewlett-Packard CEO “Cruella de Vil,” substantiating the cliché that doctrinaire liberals are compelled to caricature their Republican opponents as either evil or stupid.

But this refreshingly unguarded comment exposes even more structural problems with which the present incarnation of the Democratic Party is coping. Long ago lost is the coalition of voters that sent Roosevelt, Kennedy, Carter, and even Clinton to the White House. In a recent mea culpa for National Journal, Emerging Democratic Majority co-author John Judis acknowledged that the Republican Party has emerged as the preferred party for those without a college degree. The 2014 midterm results indicate that the GOP is making substantial inroads with those who have only a four-year degree, while those who have a post-graduate degree or higher remain stalwart Democratic supporters. That is, however, a small pool from which to draw unflinching supporters.

At a time when millions of American families are struggling to send their children to four-year institutions, and with still more millions of Americans rediscovering the value of vocational education and blue-collar career paths, it is perhaps ill-advised to be insulting those who decline to attend college. That is doubly true for Scott Walker, who only failed to graduate with a degree because he left his university a few credits shy when he received a lucrative job offer in the middle of his senior year. And as for those liberals who would object to suggesting that the comments of one donor are indicative of the party’s thinking on this issue, they would be advised to turn to Charles and David Koch for comment.

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Carly Fiorina’s Choice

Carly Fiorina is about to become the Democratic Party’s favorite Republican.

The honor of being the Republican held in high regard by the left is reserved primarily for the members of that political party who have either lost a high-profile race, died, or both. The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard might, however, earn Democratic esteem by virtue of being excluded from the group of top-tier GOP debate participants when the 2016 presidential primary race begins in earnest.

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Carly Fiorina is about to become the Democratic Party’s favorite Republican.

The honor of being the Republican held in high regard by the left is reserved primarily for the members of that political party who have either lost a high-profile race, died, or both. The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard might, however, earn Democratic esteem by virtue of being excluded from the group of top-tier GOP debate participants when the 2016 presidential primary race begins in earnest.

Jonathan Tobin noted how Fox News Channel and CNN’s plans to either cut underperforming candidates off or to establish a two-tiered system in which floundering candidates will compete in their own separate but equal debate will make for a long, hot summer for the GOP. No fewer than five prospective Republican presidential candidates are polling so poorly that they may not meet the required threshold of support in the average of recent surveys to join the top tier candidates on the debate stage. Only one of those candidates, however, has captured the media’s attention, and it is no secret as to why.

If the debates were held tomorrow, a variety of qualified candidates would be excluded or relegated to the also-ran stage. Many are perfectly well qualified, and their exclusion should inspire some introspection among Republicans. Likely candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich is the chief executive of a must-win state in which the party will hold its nominating convention. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry governed one of the largest states in the Union, a border state and one in which the most influential mass of GOP voters reside, for three terms. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was the last candidate standing in 2012 before Mitt Romney secured the delegates required to win the nomination, and he only conceded his loss after carrying 11 states. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is the youngest Republican candidate in the field, the Indian-American son of immigrant parents, and the candidate perhaps best positioned to represent the GOP’s evangelical base. But only Fiorina’s exclusion will inspire hand-wringing thought pieces and fiery cable news panel segments, and that has everything to do with Hillary Clinton’s gender-centric presidential campaign.

It is not preordained that Fiorina will be unable to generate enough support in the coming months to secure a coveted spot on the GOP debate stage. The former candidate for U.S. Senate in California is a skilled communicator, a deft campaigner, has been positioning herself as uniquely able to neutralize Clinton’s advantages, and has chosen to fundraise rather than whine in the face of the adversity presented by her modest support in the polls. If, however, the debates were held tomorrow, Fiorina would be relegated to the kids’ table.

Predictably, the left and their allies in the press will frame this as a snub. Both the Republican Party brass and the base of GOP primary voters have rejected their only female candidate, they’ll note. By inference, the media will imply that Republican voters’ rejection of Fiorina is as unthinking as will be their rejection of Clinton in November, 2016. With varying degrees of subtlety, the implication will be made that the obstacles Fiorina’s campaign encountered are due to the brutish bias of those to whom she was attempting to appeal.

When Fox News revealed that its criteria would exclude some highly qualified candidates from the debates, a series of headlines made note of the suboptimal optics associated with the likely exclusion the GOP field’s only female candidate. It is perhaps unsurprising that this instinct merely reflected the thinking inside Democratic circles. “At this point the Republican clown car isn’t big enough for the only girl clown, and that shows you why Hillary Clinton will be the next president,” an unnamed Democratic operative told the Daily Mail.

If Fiorina fails to make the cut ahead of the Fox and CNN debates, the former CEO will find herself at the center of a media melee. It will certainly be tempting for the unloved presidential candidate to bask in the newfound attention, generate some publicity and much-needed name recognition ahead of the primaries, and perhaps entertain the notion that her inability to appeal to the Republican voting base has its roots in something other than reason. If she took this approach, Fiorina would do her candidacy, her party, and her country a great disservice. Fiorina is, however, likely to take a much more productive approach to contending with this hardship.

In the media, Fiorina’s attacks on Clinton’s qualifications for the presidency have apparently grown quite irksome. Former GOP strategist Nicolle Wallace recently advised Fiorina to back off what she saw as increasingly “personal” attacks on the former secretary of state. Yahoo’s Katie Couric, too, questioned whether Fiorina’s “unkind words” for Clinton, including critiquing her accomplishments, was ill advised. Fiorina smartly replied that her qualifications for the presidency are based in merit rather than her title or her gender. If she is excluded from the debate stage, Fiorina should maintain that this is the result of a meritocratic process based on objective polling data.

If Fiorina declines to wallow in self-pity amid inevitable prodding of reporters in that direction, she will sacrifice her position as media darling and the spike in name recognition that accompanies this condition. To do so would, however, be the nobler course of action. It would also demonstrate why Fiorina deserved to be on that stage in the first place.

Carly Fiorina may soon have to make that choice, and it won’t be an easy one. But if her past actions are any indication of future performance, she can be expected to make the right call.

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While Hillary Slept

Only the most conspiratorial among us suspected that the State Department’s decision to release a tranche of Hillary Clinton’s private emails on the Friday before a long holiday weekend just might be an effort to bury the revelations. Well, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

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Only the most conspiratorial among us suspected that the State Department’s decision to release a tranche of Hillary Clinton’s private emails on the Friday before a long holiday weekend just might be an effort to bury the revelations. Well, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

The journalists who combed through the emails learned, among other things, that State officials spent quite a bit of their time investigating leads sent to Clinton via her longtime associate Sidney Blumenthal. Though Barack Obama’s White House blocked Clinton’s request to add Blumenthal to her staff at State as a speechwriter, it seems that the Clinton confidant served as a key outside advisor to the former secretary of state.

But some of the most compelling details in those emails regarding Clinton’s conduct were in regards to the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. The emails reveal that the White House regarded Clinton as the “public face of the U.S. effort in Libya” in 2012. “She was instrumental in security the authorization, building the coalition, and tightening the noose around Qadhafi and his regime.” The White House noted that Clinton had been a “critical voice on Libya,” working closely with the president, NATO, and a number of contact groups both during the coalition intervention and in its aftermath. And when officials received a presidential briefing three days after the September 11, 2012 attack that took the life of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, Hillary Clinton was asleep.

“I just woke up,” Clinton wrote in an email sent at 10:43 a.m. ET on the morning of Saturday September 15, 2012. Surely, those Republicans tasked with crafting political advertisements in 2016 will not fail to contrast this revelation with Clinton’s famous 2008 spot in which she suggested that she would be a better candidate to take the crisis call that comes in at 3 a.m. When the crisis arrived, Hillary was literally napping.

When Clinton’s first private email account was exposed earlier this year, she belatedly took to a podium at the United Nations to control the spiraling damage that the scandalous revelation was doing to her political prospects. Clinton was asked if she was ever “specifically briefed on the security implications” of using a private email to conduct State affairs. To this inquiry, Clinton launched into a response that centered on the fact that she had never sent classified information over the one “homebrew” server of which the public was aware.

“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email,” Clinton insisted. “There is no classified material. So I’m certainly well-aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”  Once again, America, whether Clinton engaged in any impropriety depends on what the definition of “is” is.

No one asked Clinton about classified information, per se. And it was revealed this week that Clinton had, in fact, received sensitive/unclassified materials via her email account. One of the emails released by the State Department on Friday indicated that the former secretary of state had receive electronic correspondences that included a classified document, but that document was only officially awarded classified status on the same day those emails were released – more than 32 months after the Benghazi attack. Curious.

As The Washington Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay observed, Clinton wrote in her 2014 autobiography Hard Choices that her first thoughts after she learned of the attack were with the late U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. In an interview with Wall Street Journal reporter Monica Langley, an exchange apparently so fawning that Clinton’s aides exchanged a series of emails mocking the reporter’s obsequiousness and repeated invasions of Clinton’s personal space, the secretary made it clear how hard she had taken his loss.

“I sent Chris Stevens to Benghazi at the height of the Libyan conflict [during the Arab Spring],” Clinton told Langley. “He was eager to go and was very effective. I recommended him as ambassador.” Except that Clinton was apparently not even fully aware of Stevens’ name. In an email sent to her confidants at state on the evening of the attack, Clinton referred to him as Chris Smith, noted that she had received informal confirmation of his death, and asked when that news should be disclosed.

Finally, Clinton seemed to be acutely aware of the political damage that might have been done by the administration’s ill-considered efforts to blame the attacks on a spontaneous demonstration related to a YouTube video. In a September 30 email to her aides at State, Clinton asked if she had ever described the conditions prior to the assault on the Benghazi outpost as a “spontaneous” demonstration. Her aides relieved her of any stress when they noted that she had been appropriately cautious with her words.

Indeed, even Reuters noted that the frequency with which Clinton and her cadre of aides prioritized protecting Clinton’s image in the wake of the deadly attack was conspicuous.

“The emails from Clinton’s personal email account made public by the State Department do not appear to contain any revelations that could badly damage her bid for the presidency in 2016 or provide fodder for Republicans who accuse her of being negligent before the Benghazi attacks,” the Reuters dispatch read. “But they offer a glimpse into how Clinton’s team was concerned about her image immediately afterward.”

There is nothing like a little beauty rest to help image maintenance. These emails are only a fraction of those released to the State Department for review, and those are just the emails that Clinton’s team did not summarily delete. Surely, these are not the only embarrassing revelations about Clinton’s behavior at State that will be disclosed in coming days.

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The Press Leaps to Protect Obama, Hillary From Abusive Anonymous Twitter Users

A strikingly candid New York Times dispatch published on Friday has apparently spooked Hillary Clinton’s cadre of supine acolytes. The arch-conservatives at the Times noted accurately that Clinton only reluctantly broke her 28-day streak of ignoring inquiries from the press after Fox News Channel White House correspondent Ed Henry aggressively prodded her. The Times dispatch from journalist Jason Horowitz observed truthfully that the media has only barely been able to conceal their “annoyance” with the former first lady’s stonewalling.

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A strikingly candid New York Times dispatch published on Friday has apparently spooked Hillary Clinton’s cadre of supine acolytes. The arch-conservatives at the Times noted accurately that Clinton only reluctantly broke her 28-day streak of ignoring inquiries from the press after Fox News Channel White House correspondent Ed Henry aggressively prodded her. The Times dispatch from journalist Jason Horowitz observed truthfully that the media has only barely been able to conceal their “annoyance” with the former first lady’s stonewalling.

“In Iowa, Queen Hillary and the Everyday Americans of the Round Table distribute alms to the clamoring press,” Horowitz later tweeted. This editorializing inspired a backlash from the coterie of palace guards at Media Matters for America, but it was also perfectly justified. If you haven’t had the opportunity to review Clinton’s response to Henry’s question, and I highly recommend you do, her unconcealed disdain for the Fox reporter’s impertinence is best described as similar to that of a sovereign.

“Maybe when I finish talking to the people here,” Clinton said response to Henry’s query. Adopting a wry smile while surrounded by a group of Iowans handpicked by her campaign to represent a random sample, the likely Democratic presidential nominee added, “How’s that?”

“You’ll come over?” Henry probed.

“I might,” Clinton replied, chin pointed toward the heavens. “I have to ponder it, but I will put it on my list for due consideration.”

All that was missing was a reference to herself in the first person plural.

Clinton earned and received some due mockery for this display of airs both within and outside the journalistic establishment. But that is itself a problem for some in the world of political reporting. Some in the media have begun to concern themselves with the problematic nature of those insolent Americans who have the temerity to mock and even insult both the president and his heir apparent.

It seems that both the Times and Politico discovered this week the existence of the microblogging site Twitter, and the fact that anonymous users on that site can be, gasp, mean to public figures in positions of authority.

This week, Politico published a bizarre dispatch focused entirely on the “trolls,” or social media users who behave in an intentionally provocative fashion, that hound Clinton’s online presence.

“Some call her names like ‘witch,’ ‘dictator,’ ‘monster,’ and even ‘Hitlary,’” the report read, “all reminders of how polarizing Clinton can be — a feminist hero and glass-ceiling cracker to supporters; an untrustworthy, pandering operative to the haters.”

Politico noted that Clinton’s Twitter presence is followed by more people than the entire Republican 2016 field combined, “But that formidable footprint comes with a price.”

[S]he also trumps her opponents in terms of her legions of trolls, who sometimes overwhelm the conversations she generates, picking at the scabs and scars Clinton has accumulated over nearly four decades in public life.

When Clinton recently tweeted “Healthy women ? healthy communities. Sign up if you agree with Hillary,” one quick response to that relatively anodyne message was, “On average how much does Bill spend on hookers each week?”

Indeed, even Clinton’s “physical appearance is not considered out of bounds” for those anonymous cads who dare speak above their station. Apparently, one unnamed micro-blogger who saw the former secretary of state walking down a street near her Brooklyn headquarters as “a human pear.” How vulgar.

The Times, too, lashed out on Friday at the uncivilized elements on social media who hurl slurs at their betters. In a 1,113-word dispatch, the Times noted that Twitter is full of coarse barbarians who have a penchant for slinging repulsively racist insults at the president.

This week, President Barack Obama revealed that he would use Twitter when he leaves office and unveiled the account handle from which he will send out 140 character messages. This revelation yielded a slew of racially insensitive comments that would surely sap anyone’s faith in their fellow man.

“The posts reflected the racial hostility toward the nation’s first black president that has long been expressed in stark terms on the Internet, where conspiracy theories thrive and prejudices find ready outlets,” the Times reported. “But the racist Twitter posts are different because now that Mr. Obama has his own account, the slurs are addressed directly to him, for all to see.”

But there was one measure of a specific slur. According to analytics compiled by Topsy, a research company that collects and analyzes what is shared on Twitter, the number of postings that included Mr. Obama’s name and one particular racial epithet jumped substantially on Monday, the day of the president’s first posting, to 150.

One Twitter user who did not use that specific racial slur responded to the president with just two words: “Black monkey,” a comparison that was not uncommon. “Get back in your cage monkey,” another person wrote.

This is repulsive, unalloyed racism, and it should not be excused. Indeed, no one of merit is excusing it. But only the anonymous or those utterly unconcerned with their livelihoods would dare issue such slurs in a public forum. It’s not much of a secret that the Internet is populated with jerks. Hopefully, the New York Times is fully stocked up on smelling salts in the event the Gray Lady’s editors ever discover YouTube’s comments sections.

A White House reporter even determined that the abuse the president suffered on social media was a worthy line of inquiry during the daily press briefing. Press Sec. Josh Earnest had the unfortunate duty of disabusing this reporter of the rosy notion that the web is a safe space when he noted that uncivil discourse is “all too common on the Internet.”

Those media outlets feigning shock over the abuse dealt out to public figures are being more than a little dishonest. Reporters should not be surprised to learn that George W. Bush was not spared the belligerence of anonymous commenters over the course of his presidency. Though they did not have Twitter to vent their rage, it was not difficult to find anti-Bush “trolls” who did not shy away from attacking the former president’s character, his relations, and his heritage. This condition did not result in handwringing pieces in the Times about the left’s incivility or the nation’s lingering antipathy toward representatives of Southern states.

People are mean on the Internet, but that is not a story. In order to scold a nation that includes citizens who are rude to Clinton and Obama on the web, these outlets had to pretend as though this was a unique and new phenomenon. While the worst of the comments that the president and the former secretary of state have had to endure are certainly condemnable, it’s perhaps as offensive that these journalistic institutions leapt at the chance to morally preen and posture in order to deflect criticism, however unhinged, from these leading Democrats.

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Do You Deserve to Be President After Jeopardizing National Security?

Taking a page from the well-worn Clinton playbook, a digest compiled almost entirely before the dawn of the digital age, Hillary Clinton has responded to the deluge of scandalous revelations regarding her conduct at the State Department by clamming up. But the proliferation of citizen journalists, commendably dogged reporters, and a seemingly endless digital trail to follow has undermined this tactic. New details about Clinton’s improprieties continue to mount. As the fabrications pile up and Clinton’s character is called into question, it seems clear that the former secretary of state did casually imperil American national security in the effort to preserve the “convenience” to which she had become accustomed as a U.S. Senator. But can she make the case that she will serve as a competent commander-in-chief after such a revelation? It is a question the press has been hounding Republicans with for the better part of two weeks.

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Taking a page from the well-worn Clinton playbook, a digest compiled almost entirely before the dawn of the digital age, Hillary Clinton has responded to the deluge of scandalous revelations regarding her conduct at the State Department by clamming up. But the proliferation of citizen journalists, commendably dogged reporters, and a seemingly endless digital trail to follow has undermined this tactic. New details about Clinton’s improprieties continue to mount. As the fabrications pile up and Clinton’s character is called into question, it seems clear that the former secretary of state did casually imperil American national security in the effort to preserve the “convenience” to which she had become accustomed as a U.S. Senator. But can she make the case that she will serve as a competent commander-in-chief after such a revelation? It is a question the press has been hounding Republicans with for the better part of two weeks.

Clinton’s transparent aim is to allow the sting of these myriad controversies to be acutely felt early, and only to address them when she can legitimately dub them “old news” and thereby scold those reporters who myopically dwell on ancient history. That strategy is only effective, however, when the revelations dry up. But the scandalous details of her behavior exposed in the press continue to emerge, one by one, drip by drip, gradually eroding away Clinton’s presidential prospects.

The latest report to expose Clinton’s mendacity comes from the New York Times, which revealed that the former secretary did send sensitive government information over her private email account:

Clinton’s Personal Email Account Contained Sensitive Information

Mrs. Clinton’s emails show that she had a special type of government information known as “sensitive but unclassified,” or “SBU,” in her account. That information included the whereabouts and travel plans of American officials in Libya as security there deteriorated during the uprising against the leadership of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011. Nearly a year and a half before the attacks in Benghazi, Mr. Stevens, then an American envoy to the rebels, considered leaving Benghazi citing deteriorating security, according to an email to Mrs. Clinton marked “SBU.”

That report also detailed the communications sent to Clinton via her longtime ally and political hit man Sidney Blumenthal in the wake of the Benghazi attack. It noted that Blumenthal informed Clinton on September 13, 2001 that the deadly event was not the result of a spontaneous demonstration but rather a coordinated terrorist act conducted by Ansar al-Shariah. This disclosure casts into doubt the administration’s claim that it was unaware of the precise nature of that attack until September 16, 2012.

Clinton defenders will note that “sensitive” information is not “classified” information, and the former secretary’s contention that she never sent or received classified documents via her email account remains, for now, intact. But any information security expert will attest that just because “sensitive” documents are not classified does not render them useless to America’s adversaries, as the details in this Times report attest.

This is just the latest misstatement from Clinton’s disastrous March press conference to be called into question. Standing before a lectern at the United Nations, Clinton claimed that she only used one mobile device in service to her sense of entitlement while at State. We now know there were at least two devices she used to conduct State business. Clinton insisted that her system was never “breached,” but information security experts now believe that her “homebrew” server was vulnerable to infiltration and was possibly compromised by foreign intelligence services. Clinton insisted that she only deleted those emails that were personal in nature; a trove of communications that amounted to the majority of the emails she sent as Secretary of State. One of the recipients of private email communications, she averred, was her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Wrong, the 42nd President’s office contended. He only sent two emails in his life, according to Bill Clinton spokesperson Matt McKenna, and both of those were composed and transmitted while he served as president.

This all paints a picture not only of a political figure utterly unconcerned with accountability, the public trust, and national security, but of a person with a pathological aversion to truth.

This also should lead observers to an inescapable conclusion: Clinton carelessly jeopardized national security while she served as America’s chief diplomat. Does this erode Clinton’s claim to be able to serve as America’s next commander-in-chief? It should, and the press seems to be aware of that. Why else have they been hounding 2016 Republican presidential aspirants to account for the last GOP chief executive’s decision to invade Iraq?

Old habits die hard, it seems, as the left and their allies in the press have been busily engaged in a process of forced collectivization over the last week. But instead of plots of arable land, we are collectivizing guilt – namely, Republican guilt for the decision to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein. The underlying assumption in the media’s dogged pursuit of Republican admissions that the war was a mistake is that George W. Bush carelessly and callously endangered American national security in pursuit of the parochial goal of ridding the world of a particularly unpleasant regime. In this way, not only does the press absolve Barack Obama for sloppily surrendering the West’s hard-won gains in that turbulent country, but it also liberates all Democratic figures – Clinton included – from having to account for the present state of affairs.

If we are to believe that Bush was thoughtless in his approach to safeguarding American national security, Clinton deserves a similar reproach. If Republicans are collectively to blame for the disaster in Iraq, even those who held only minor office in 2003, why then are Democrats not collectively responsible for Clinton’s serial lies and her hard-hearted indifference to the behavior associated with a Cabinet official entrusted with protecting America’s information security? Is there a logically satisfactory explanation for this double standard?

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The Myth of the Progressive Movement

When the last of the GOP’s viable conservative alternatives to Mitt Romney had been dispatched, a sense of fatalism briefly consumed the right’s ideological stalwarts. They knew that, eventually, they would be compelled to pull the lever for the technocratic father of socialized health care in America. Those who did not engage in a process of self-delusion designed to assuage their own guilt over this condition raged futilely against the prevailing winds.

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When the last of the GOP’s viable conservative alternatives to Mitt Romney had been dispatched, a sense of fatalism briefly consumed the right’s ideological stalwarts. They knew that, eventually, they would be compelled to pull the lever for the technocratic father of socialized health care in America. Those who did not engage in a process of self-delusion designed to assuage their own guilt over this condition raged futilely against the prevailing winds.

Reason’s A. Barton Hinkle scoffed that it would not be “easy” for conservatives to justify supporting Romney. “And it’s especially hard because it requires them to do the one thing they most revile Romney for: change positions for the sake of political expedience,” he wrote.

The conservative movement that had appeared ascendant amid the tea party wave of 2010 had run out of steam just 18 months later. Some wondered whether the conservative insurgency was a mere figment in the first place.

Similarly, the political commentariat is forever touting the progressive populist movement that they claim is today only just dawning. Though the voices in print and on television that foresee a great progressive tide on the horizon are also surely cheering on its arrival, they are not without evidence to support this contention. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s popularity and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s progressive manifesto, compiled with the support of luminaries like Susan Sarandon and Van Jones, validate the notion that the Democratic Party’s lurch to the left is a broad-based phenomenon.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spent an inordinate amount of time appealing to the supposedly ascendant left wing of her party, even despite the absence of a viable presidential primary challenger. But just as the Republican Party’s base was not convinced by Romney’s unctuous claim to have governed “extremely conservative” as the Bay State’s chief executive, the progressive wing is justifiably skeptical of Clinton’s liberal bona fides.

In opposition to a proposed free trade agreement with a variety of Asian nations, Senate Democrats demonstrated just how lame of a duck President Barack Obama had become when they denied him trade promotional authority earlier this month. In response to progressives’ suspicions of this proposed trade deal, Clinton has adopted a cagey stance on the matter. Though she has taken $2.5 million in speaking fees from pro-trade groups and has called the Trans-Pacific Partnership the “gold standard” of free trade agreements, she would have her left flank believe that she is now deeply conflicted about the potentially negative effects free trade will have on American labor.

On what the progressive wing now regards as the defining civil rights issue of our time, the legal right of gay and lesbian couples to wed, Clinton was suspiciously slow to embrace the consensus position. She came out in favor of same-sex marriage only after President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden did the same. When probed by NPR’s Terry Gross about her evolution on the issue, Clinton lashed out defensively. It was an understandable fit of pique on her part; Clinton’s husband signed the Defense of Marriage Act and a travel ban for individuals infected with HIV into law, both of which the gay community has long regarded as betrayals from the last Democratic president.

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Hillary Clinton’s close aides at the State Department attempted to withhold politically sensitive documents from being revealed to the public as a result of successful FOIA requests. This Machiavellian approach to governance is hardly surprising from Clinton’s team, but the documents they were attempting to suppress should raise eyebrows. Some of them pertained to the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project vehemently opposed by the environmental left. One of the emails uncovered was addressed to Paul Elliott, a lobbyist for the firm seeking approval for that pipeline and a former staffer on Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid.

“In one email, the [Ottawa] embassy official sent Mr. Elliot a message saying “Go Paul!” after he circulated some potentially positive news on the pipeline plan,” the Journal revealed. “She also complimented an appearance by the CEO of the company seeking to build Keystone XL.” The Friends of the Earth, the environmental group that successfully secured the release of these documents, called it the “smoking gun” that revealed the Clinton State Department’s pro-pipeline bias. Clinton has refused to take a position on Keystone, leading many environmentalists to draw their own unflattering conclusions.

There is a reason why President Barack Obama will attempt to link the trade promotional authority he wants to the threat of climate change in a report released on Wednesday morning. However dubious the link between these two issues, the White House is gambling that the progressive left’s near religious devotion to the cause of reducing carbon emissions will trump their antipathy toward free trade. But outside of the U.S. Senate, where a handful of committed ideologues can derail just about any initiative, is there any evidence to suggest that the progressive movement is worthy of this kind of deference?

If the Democratic Party’s far left was going to advance a truly liberal candidate for the presidency, that window is rapidly closing. There is no shortage of prospective usurpers who might assume the mantle of progressive champion ahead of 2016, but they have been largely cowed by Clinton’s stature within her party. As Republicans acquiesced to the inexorable Romney juggernaut in 2012, Democrats are apparently forced to come to terms with Clinton’s predestined ascension to the nomination.

A truly dominant political force would extract more concessions from Clinton and Obama than halfhearted mollification and lip service. At the moment, neither of them seems to think that more substantive concessions are necessary. For all the self-serving television presenters who are forever presaging the progressive moment that is about to dawn, there is precious little evidence to support that conclusion.

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How Did Clinton Conflict of Interest Schemes Work? Ask Sidney.

For the past two years, liberals have been laughing at Republican attempts to link Hillary Clinton to something incriminating or at least embarrassing about the Benghazi terror attack. But, as we saw with the issue of her emails that was uncovered by the investigatory efforts of the House special committee on Benghazi there is still plenty for her to be concerned about. Today, the latest shoe dropped in a depressing drip, drip, drip of scandal. As the New York Times reports, longtime Clinton family hit man Sidney Blumenthal was simultaneously advising Hillary on Libya during her time serving as secretary of state while also by employed by the Clinton Foundation and also working for other independent groups that were laying the groundwork for her presidential campaign. At best, this blatant conflict of interest raises questions, in the words of the Times, about the “blurry lines between business, politics and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years.” At worst, it’s another sordid example of the corruption and bad judgment at the heart of the Clinton machine’s style of governing.

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For the past two years, liberals have been laughing at Republican attempts to link Hillary Clinton to something incriminating or at least embarrassing about the Benghazi terror attack. But, as we saw with the issue of her emails that was uncovered by the investigatory efforts of the House special committee on Benghazi there is still plenty for her to be concerned about. Today, the latest shoe dropped in a depressing drip, drip, drip of scandal. As the New York Times reports, longtime Clinton family hit man Sidney Blumenthal was simultaneously advising Hillary on Libya during her time serving as secretary of state while also by employed by the Clinton Foundation and also working for other independent groups that were laying the groundwork for her presidential campaign. At best, this blatant conflict of interest raises questions, in the words of the Times, about the “blurry lines between business, politics and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years.” At worst, it’s another sordid example of the corruption and bad judgment at the heart of the Clinton machine’s style of governing.

That Blumenthal, a disreputable political assassin who earned notoriety for his antics while serving in the Clinton White House, worked as a paid consultant to the State Department on Libyan affairs is interesting by itself. It would take a Venn diagram to adequately illustrate the conflicts his employment by Clinton involved. Yet as the Times notes, he had already been barred from a job in the State Department by intervention by aides to President Obama who apparently had a more highly developed sense of smell, if not impropriety than Mrs. Clinton. But his role at the State Department involved more than a questionable taste in advisors:

Much of the Libya intelligence that Mr. Blumenthal passed on to Mrs. Clinton appears to have come from a group of business associates he was advising as they sought to win contracts from the Libyan transitional government. The venture, which was ultimately unsuccessful, involved other Clinton friends, a private military contractor and one former C.I.A. spy seeking to get in on the ground floor of the new Libyan economy.

The projects — creating floating hospitals to treat Libya’s war wounded and temporary housing for displaced people, and building schools — would have required State Department permits, but foundered before the business partners could seek official approval.

It is not clear whether Mrs. Clinton or the State Department knew of Mr. Blumenthal’s interest in pursuing business in Libya; a State Department spokesman declined to say. Many aspects of Mr. Blumenthal’s involvement in the planned Libyan venture remain unclear. He declined repeated requests to discuss it.

But interviews with his associates and a review of previously unreported correspondence suggest that — once again — it may be difficult to determine where one of Mr. Blumenthal’s jobs ended and another began.

The Times goes on to detail the rather tangled web that Blumenthal and his associates wove. But the main questions we should be asking is what on earth was someone knee deep in a bizarre Libyan business scheme acting as an advisor to the secretary of state about a country with which he had previously had little to do.

Blumenthal was writing intelligence memos about Libya that were largely the product of the opinions of his business associates. Some of the memos he wrote made sense. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who would be murdered by terrorists in the Benghazi attack, shot others down. But whether or not they made sense, Clinton circulated them to her department as gospel, appended with notes praising their insight. But whether they were right or wrong, it is simply astonishing that someone who was on her family foundation payroll as well as working for other political outfits aimed at furthering her political future was put in a position where he could influence policy related to his business interests.

At the very least, this merits serious questions about the Clintons’ already notorious lack of ethics. We don’t know where one Blumenthal job ended and another began. All we do know is that he was getting paid by a number of different sources as well as the government while seeking to make profits enabled by the whims of Hillary’s State Department. The fact that the scam fell through before he could start raking in the profits is beside the point.

As the Times reports, Blumenthal’s role also breached a number of normal barriers intended to prevent conflicts of interest as well as measures that might seek to probe the reliability of intelligence sources.

This story illustrates how the Clinton Cash way of governing works. Clinton’s defenders rightly say there is no “smoking gun” proving that the secretary paid off donors to her family foundation with favors or biased decisions. But the way Blumenthal snaked his way through a complicated labyrinth of consulting jobs for the foundation, political operations and the government illustrates how unnecessary it was for there to be such a piece of damning evidence whether or not it was ultimately deleted from Clinton’s infamous home email server.

We know the Clinton Foundation was used as an informal political slush fund for Bill, Hillary and their daughter to which wealthy foreign donors hoping for and sometimes getting favors contributed. But the more we learn about the Blumenthal connection and other Clinton Cash hijinks, its clear that the once and would-be future First Family and their cronies consider philanthropy and the government just two interchangeable ATM’s they can use at will.

While Democrats may continue to dismiss all questions about the propriety of this sordid tale, even many liberal partisans must be beginning to wonder about what sort of person it is that they are trying to put back into the White House.

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Can the Left Be Baited to Attack Hillary?

The silence of many on the left about their misgivings about the Democratic Party’s putative 2016 presidential candidate is a tempting target for conservatives. As the New York Times noted over the weekend, some mischief-making conservatives have been using social media to prod liberals into criticizing Hillary Clinton on a host of issues where they may have profound differences with the former First Lady. As the Times notes, some of these efforts have met with success. But Republicans shouldn’t get too excited about these small triumphs. The left may not like the Clintons, but so far there is no sign that a critical mass of liberals are prepared to give in to the temptation of examining her views or the corrupt manner with which she and her husband have conducted their affairs. Until proven otherwise, this generation of liberals appears to be focused solely on winning elections in a way that many conservatives still are not.

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The silence of many on the left about their misgivings about the Democratic Party’s putative 2016 presidential candidate is a tempting target for conservatives. As the New York Times noted over the weekend, some mischief-making conservatives have been using social media to prod liberals into criticizing Hillary Clinton on a host of issues where they may have profound differences with the former First Lady. As the Times notes, some of these efforts have met with success. But Republicans shouldn’t get too excited about these small triumphs. The left may not like the Clintons, but so far there is no sign that a critical mass of liberals are prepared to give in to the temptation of examining her views or the corrupt manner with which she and her husband have conducted their affairs. Until proven otherwise, this generation of liberals appears to be focused solely on winning elections in a way that many conservatives still are not.

It is true that there have been signs that a Democratic Party that has been marching in lockstep since nominating Barack Obama is about to implode. The trade bill currently before Congress has illustrated a profound split between those Democrats dedicating to governing and those elements in the party still in thrall to either traditional left-wing institutions like the unions or to populist liberal ideology. The exchange between President Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren showed that there was plenty of fodder for a Democrat civil war that could, if it were not restrained by the fact that most Democrats feel a sense of personal loyalty to the president, blow up into something pretty nasty.

It is that breach that Senator Bernie Sanders and perhaps former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley would like to exploit as they prepare to challenge Hillary Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination. But though Clinton’s political rust, arrogance and the appalling sense of entitlement that characterize her halting progress toward 2016 would seem to offer an inviting target for a true-believing liberal, so far the challengers show little sign of making much progress.

Indeed, O’Malley was hurt more by his association with tough police procedures in Baltimore during his past terms as mayor than Clinton has been by any effort to tie her to the Iraq War and inconsistencies about trade, let alone the scandalous Clinton Cash allegations. That Democrats would be screaming bloody murder about the conflicts of interest noted in Peter Schweizer’s book if they were about a Republican goes without saying. But the silence of liberals who know they are not in step with Hillary on many issues is a tribute to the Democrats’ party discipline.

It is particularly significant that liberals who have been talking about going to the mat against Obama on the trade bill have been remarkably quiet about Clinton’s refusal to take a position. Hillary is terribly vulnerable on the issue since she is a past ardent supporter of free trade. But rather than hounding her stealth campaign demanding that she declare herself one way or the other, most of the same people moving heaven and earth to sabotage Obama’s efforts to pass the trade bill haven’t uttered a peep about Clinton’s strange silence.

That’s especially significant because if Warren were really tempted to challenge Clinton, this might be the issue on which she would start to tentatively attack her opponent at her weakest point. If Warren were seriously contemplating getting into the presidential sweepstakes, she’d be putting Clinton’s feet to the fire being lit by unions and other left-wing special interests on trade. That would be the way to either smoke Hillary out as an ally of big business and Wall Street or to force her to back their opposition to the bill.

But Warren, the one Democrat that most observers think could give Clinton a run for her money, has left her alone. The same goes for the unions that have, as the Washington Free Beacon reports, been using their members’ dues to funnel money to the Clinton Foundation that has been operating as a political slush fund for the former First Family.

So while, as the Times reported, stray left-wingers have been goaded into sniping at Hillary on Twitter by clever provocations from the right, most liberals are sticking to the party line about their candidate. Though Clinton’s weak start to her campaign showed she is not going to be the general election juggernaut that Democrats anticipated, she remains ahead of potential primary challenges by 40-50 percentage points. While Republicans are still struggling with the question of whether it is okay to nominate a candidate who strays from the consensus on the right on any issue, Democrats are interested only in victory. So long as Clinton is seen as a likely winner, a proposition that, as our Noah Rothman writes, may be in doubt, her party faithful will continue to ignore her faults and her positions, no matter how hard Republicans beg them to take note of them.

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Hillary Clinton’s Incredible Shrinking Electoral Targets

It was only a few months ago that Democrats were celebrating Hillary Clinton’s likely 2016 election victory. Not only was America’s former chief diplomat ordained by fate to become the nation’s first female chief executive, but also she would probably win that mandate with historic margins of victory. That early enthusiasm has given way to fatalism as Democrats begin to take a critical look at their party’s inevitable standard-bearer.

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It was only a few months ago that Democrats were celebrating Hillary Clinton’s likely 2016 election victory. Not only was America’s former chief diplomat ordained by fate to become the nation’s first female chief executive, but also she would probably win that mandate with historic margins of victory. That early enthusiasm has given way to fatalism as Democrats begin to take a critical look at their party’s inevitable standard-bearer.

The election was still two years away when Talking Points Memo’s Dylan Scott allotted 386 Electoral College votes to Clinton. That heady dispatch quoted extensively from the sequestered camp of prospective Clinton campaign staffers. They were certain that the former secretary of state would not merely revive Barack Obama’s 2008 electoral coalition, but she would significantly augment it.

“Clinton has a record of appealing to white working-class voters — especially women — and they could be enough when paired with the Obama coalition to pull out a win,” Scott wrote. That appeal to working-class whites as well as traditional Democratic constituents like minorities and single women would yield Clinton victories in states like Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, and Arizona.

Much of that initial excitement has been dramatically tempered by the intervening scandal-plagued months. Today, Clinton is hoping – no, “banking on” the fact that the members of Obama’s coalition of voters will reassemble one last time to propel her back into the White House.

The Washington Post’s Anna Gearan observed on Monday that Clinton has been lurching toward the left recently despite a lack of a viable primary challenger solely in order to appeal to the dwindling true believers who made up the 2008 and 2012 electorates. To that end, embracing progressive priorities like universal paid sick leave, a higher minimum wage, debt-free college attendance, and publicly funded early childhood education make some degree of sense.

It is, however, optimistic to suggest that the recitation of liberal programmatic objectives rather than the historic nature of President Obama’s identity as the first black president contributed to assembling the last two winning Democratic coalitions. In fact, that belief may appear as ill considered in the coming weeks as Scott’s anticipation of a Clinton landslide in 2016 does today.

“The strategy relies on calculations about the 2016 landscape, including that up to 31 percent of the electorate will be Americans of color — a projection that may be overly optimistic for her campaign,” Gearan observed. “Clinton will have to expand Hispanic support, increase turnout among independent women and still hold on to a large share of black voters who were drawn to the first African American major-party nominee.”

Few objective political observers believe Clinton will be able to turn out the president’s voting base merely because she can claim to be the first woman to have a credible shot at winning the White House. 28 percent of the electorate that turned out in 2008 was made up of minority voters. Four years later, the minority share of the electorate dropped to 26 percent. Though it is true that Hispanics and Asians voted in larger numbers for Barack Obama in 2012 than they did in 2008, it’s unclear that Clinton can recreate that performance without Mitt Romney on the ballot. Indeed, the 2014 midterm election exit polls suggested that Hispanic and Asian voters swung toward the GOP by 12 and 50 points respectively.

As for the young, unmarried women who are supposedly destined to turn out for Clinton in record numbers next year, to suggest that she can outperform Barack Obama is equally as dubious. In 2012, the president managed to win the support of between 50 and 68 percent of women voters in every state surveyed by Edison Research’s exit pollsters. “Obama already did better among female voters than almost any other Democratic candidate since data are available in 1976,” The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein noted. “In 2004, Kerry only won women by 3 points, but Obama won them by 13 points in 2008 and 11 points in 2012.” And this was amid the fabricated Republican “War on Women” that has since lost much of its luster.

Many bright political observers are equally skeptical that the working-class whites that abandoned Obama will nevertheless form a central pillar of Clinton’s electoral coalition. Chief among them is the co-author of the oft-cited Emerging Democratic Majority, John Judis. “These voters, and particularly those well above the poverty line, began to shift toward the GOP decades ago, but in recent years that shift has become progressively more pronounced,” Judis wrote of blue-collar voters in the wake of the Democratic rout in 2014.

The more surprising trend is that Republicans are gaining dramatically among a group that had tilted toward Democrats in 2006 and 2008: Call them middle-class Americans. These are voters who generally work in what economist Stephen Rose has called “the office economy.” In exit polling, they can roughly be identified as those who have college—but not postgraduate—degrees and those whose household incomes are between $50,000 and $100,000. (Obviously, the overlap here is imperfect, but there is a broad congruence between these polling categories.)

“The defection of these voters—who, unlike the white working class, are a growing part of the electorate—is genuinely bad news for Democrats, and very good news indeed for Republicans,” Judis added.

Clinton is banking on the notion that government-provided services for middle-and lower-income working professionals will lure them away from the Republican camp. But is the upshot enough to convince those toiling away in “the office economy” to endure the associated increase in their tax burden? The issue is certainly not as clear-cut as those who see Clinton winning Arkansas in 2016 would like to believe.

Formerly sanguine Democrats are certainly taking more sober stock of Clinton’s electoral prospects ahead of 2016. And Republicans haven’t even settled on a nominee yet.

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The Clinton War Room Jumps the Shark

By the end of last week, the Hillary Clinton camp was acting as if they had weathered the worst of the Clinton Cash scandal and emerged unscathed. While polls showed that trust in Hillary and belief in her truthfulness was heading south, support from the overwhelming majority of Democrats remained strong. She also maintained leads in head-to-head matchups against possible Republican opponents. But in spite of these reasons for confidence that the Clinton brand can survive — as it has before — virtually anything, their bold talk about no one believing the book isn’t convincing anyone. The drip, drip, drip of scandal stories from a variety of news outlets inspired by Peter Schweizer’s muckraking book has kept the allegations in the news rather than it fading away. As a result, the Clinton “War Room” that has been assembled to trash Schweitzer and dismiss the book is starting to show the initial signs of panic. When longtime Clinton family retainer Lanny Davis called the book and those exploring its charges an example of “McCarthyism” during an appearance on C-Span, it was clear that Hillary’s friends have officially jumped the shark in their efforts to silence the nation’s unease about the former First Family’s conduct.

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By the end of last week, the Hillary Clinton camp was acting as if they had weathered the worst of the Clinton Cash scandal and emerged unscathed. While polls showed that trust in Hillary and belief in her truthfulness was heading south, support from the overwhelming majority of Democrats remained strong. She also maintained leads in head-to-head matchups against possible Republican opponents. But in spite of these reasons for confidence that the Clinton brand can survive — as it has before — virtually anything, their bold talk about no one believing the book isn’t convincing anyone. The drip, drip, drip of scandal stories from a variety of news outlets inspired by Peter Schweizer’s muckraking book has kept the allegations in the news rather than it fading away. As a result, the Clinton “War Room” that has been assembled to trash Schweitzer and dismiss the book is starting to show the initial signs of panic. When longtime Clinton family retainer Lanny Davis called the book and those exploring its charges an example of “McCarthyism” during an appearance on C-Span, it was clear that Hillary’s friends have officially jumped the shark in their efforts to silence the nation’s unease about the former First Family’s conduct.

The context of Davis’s rant is the fact that even after weeks of news organizations seeking new Clinton Cash angles to explore, it appears they aren’t close to running out of material. Over the weekend, Politico began to unravel the complicated ties between Bill Clinton’s speechmaking business and Hillary Clinton’s State Department. According to their reporting, State Department officials vetted some of the former president’s speeches. While that isn’t evidence of criminal conduct, it does show how closely connected Hillary’s staff was to Bill’s fundraising and speaking business affairs, something her defenders routinely deny. And while questions remain about the Clinton’s involvement in the egregious sale of 20 percent of the country’s uranium reserves to Russia, a lot of reporting about their dubious role in vetting disaster relief for Haiti and the way Hillary’s brother profited from their work was being dug up by both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Just as bad for the Clintons is the reporting that the liberal New York magazine is doing about their foundation’s unsuccessful attempt to get the watchdog group Charity Navigator to endorse their efforts. The group has refused to rate the Clinton Foundation as trustworthy because of its “unique business model” which has it raising hundreds of millions of dollars but only spending about ten percent of it on actual charity. The foundation works as a middle man that spends most of the vast fortune placed at its disposal paying for people to consult about helping the poor but never doing much of it itself. It can’t be called a scam because donors know they are paying for influence not charity. But the more people find out about how the foundation is less of an actual charity and more of a slush fund to pay for the Clintons to crisscross the globe talking about poverty the lower Hillary’s trust poll numbers will go.

But faced with these hits to the Clintons’ image, their defenders are predictably escalating their rhetoric. But just for a moment, let’s unpack the charges Davis has lodged against Schweitzer. Like other Clinton Cash critics, Davis kept repeating that there are no “facts” in the book. But this is absurd. The book is full of facts about the suspicious donations to the foundation and huge honorariums paid to Bill Clinton from foreign donors who had business before the State Department while Hillary was running it. What Schweitzer doesn’t have is a smoking gun memo or email that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Clintons colluded to give the people funding their family business the advantages they were seeking. Of course, Clinton opponents might say that such evidence might be in those emails that were on the server she had wiped clean. But even if we assume that they were too smart to ever commit anything like that to an email, let alone paper, that leaves critics with a circumstantial case to make against the pair that might get other politicians in trouble with the law (like Senator Robert Menendez whose favors for a wealthy friend look fishy and earned him an indictment but for which there is a similar lack of a smoking gun memo).

Davis claims that the fact that one cannot connect some very suspicious dots with the sort of certainty you could use in court is McCarthyism. But this makes no sense. It is true that Senator Joseph McCarthy was often irresponsible and made false charges that some public figures were communists. But the presumption of innocence on official charges of corruption does not mean that it is impermissible to note the tremendous conflicts of interest that were a daily affair while Hillary was at the State Department. Nor does it vindicate the questionable behavior of the foundation and the former president. Suffice it to say that were any Republican to be caught exposed in this manner, Davis and every other Democrats would be screaming bloody murder and demanding special prosecutors and indictments.

If Hillary and Bill want to put this to rest they can try answering some tough questions from the press instead of merely dismissing the issue as another invention of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” they have always hated (even though much of the reporting about this has come from the New York Times and other liberal bastions). Until then, they should tell their mouthpieces to stop foaming at the mouth. It’s only making them look guiltier.

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Hillary’s Foolish Amnesty Double Down

If the current objective of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is to give possible liberal challengers as little room to maneuver as possible then her remarks on illegal immigration yesterday was smart politics. The former secretary of state not only embraced President Obama’s extralegal executive orders granting amnesty to millions of illegals but also went further signaling her support for an easy path to citizenship for all 11 million people currently in this country without permission. By tilting to the left in this manner, Clinton believes she is making it harder for a credible opponent to outflank her with the base of the Democratic Party. Even more, she appears to think that by doubling down on amnesty, she is guaranteeing a heavy Hispanic turnout in 2016 that will vote for her over any possible Republican rival. But as with most of her recent moves, Clinton’s strategy seems to be the product of an ill-conceived fear of the left. Though this overreaction may help the Democrats keep their stranglehold on the Hispanic vote, by going too far on amnesty, Clinton may be creating more problems than she solves for her candidacy.

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If the current objective of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is to give possible liberal challengers as little room to maneuver as possible then her remarks on illegal immigration yesterday was smart politics. The former secretary of state not only embraced President Obama’s extralegal executive orders granting amnesty to millions of illegals but also went further signaling her support for an easy path to citizenship for all 11 million people currently in this country without permission. By tilting to the left in this manner, Clinton believes she is making it harder for a credible opponent to outflank her with the base of the Democratic Party. Even more, she appears to think that by doubling down on amnesty, she is guaranteeing a heavy Hispanic turnout in 2016 that will vote for her over any possible Republican rival. But as with most of her recent moves, Clinton’s strategy seems to be the product of an ill-conceived fear of the left. Though this overreaction may help the Democrats keep their stranglehold on the Hispanic vote, by going too far on amnesty, Clinton may be creating more problems than she solves for her candidacy.

Clinton’s support of Obama’s executive orders isn’t surprising. Nor is her embrace of the concept of a path to citizenship for illegals. But what she seemed to be offering her audience yesterday goes even further than the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate but failed in the House in 2013. That plans, which was supported by some Republicans (though many of them, like Senator Marco Rubio, have backed away from it now), did speak of a path to citizenship. But it was accompanied with penalties and illegals being forced to go to the back of the line behind those who have followed the rules. But Clinton mentioned no such measures yesterday. Nor did she mention the need to secure the border first or actions designed to signal potential illegal immigrants that they would not face immediate deportation should they be caught.

To the contrary, Clinton’s proposal seems to be Obama’s amnesty on steroids. Her talk of a “simple, straight-forward, accessible way” for illegals to not only get on the right side of the law but to also become citizens with no muss and no fuss. If implemented, it would not only be a gift to those who have already come here illegally. It would also constitute a virtual invitation for those thinking about crossing the border to do so since they would be able to do so with impunity.

Given her growing credibility problems due to the drip-drip-drip of damaging reporting in the mainstream media about the Clinton Cash allegations, Hillary knows she has to act quickly to head off a potential run by Senator Elizabeth Warren. If Warren has any interest at all in the presidency, the Clinton Cash mess has to be tempting her since it has highlighted not only Hillary’s glaring weaknesses as a candidate but the fact that her husband Bill seems to have lost some of his touch as well. So anything that makes it harder for Warren or other left-wing opponents to gain traction makes sense for Clinton right now.

But the assumption on the part of some Democrats and their cheerleaders in the mainstream liberal media that Clinton’s shift will be a masterstroke in a general election may be incorrect. Going overboard on amnesty may help generate an even bigger Hispanic majority for the Democrats and given their status as the fastest growing demographic in the electorate that seems like a good idea. But what Clinton seems to be forgetting is that running against the rule of law has its drawbacks as well. Clinton is right when she thinks independents and other voters who are (unlike most Hispanics) up for grabs in 2016 may not want to hear harsh rhetoric about immigrants or a repetition of Mitt Romney’s tragicomic embrace of “self-deportation” next year. But talk of wholesale amnesty without more border security and no penalties for the lawbreakers will strike swing voters as being every bit as extreme as the anti-immigrant tone heard from some on the right.

Just as Republicans need to worry about being driven so far to the right in the primaries as to make the necessary course correction in the general election too difficult, so, too, must Democrats be concerned about being driven over a cliff by their left-wing base. Hillary does best when she runs as an experienced centrist not a desperate politician pandering to special interests. As much as she has reason to fear Warren and the left, Clinton might be better off stopping trying to appease her base. Taking her chances on winning the nomination while concentrating on winning the general election would be the best bet for her.

Just as important, Clinton seems to have come into this election thinking that, as was the case in 2012, Democrats would be able to define any Republican emerging from the pack in the GOP race as an extremist loser, while never letting the other side lay a glove on her. But as we’ve already seen in the early months of the race, the only person who is currently being defined by opponents is Clinton. The Clintons are coming off as dishonest, greedy and possibly corrupt. Now she is adding a touch of left-wing extremism to an already toxic mix. Anyone who thinks that taint won’t come with a price is overestimating the ability of the left to win general elections and underestimating the distaste of most voters for lawbreakers.

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