Hillary Can’t Win. Or Can She?

Can a person with no experience, no achievements, and no likability fool a majority of voters?

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine
Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Hillary Clinton has formally announced she is running for president. Thus begins one of the most interesting and consequential political experiments in American history, one that will unfold over the next year and a half. We are going to see if a candidate for president with no real-world experience, no notable achievements, and no charisma or likability can fool 62 million voters into making her president.

Some may argue that we already conducted that experiment with Barack Obama, but there are several important differences. As a candidate, Obama could at least pretend to be likable. He made all the right noises about “no blue state America, no red state America,” promised “hope and change” for an electorate reeling from two wars and the Great Recession, and sold voters the notion that he would transcend the old politics of government gridlock and zero-sum partisanship. Also, he had a nice smile and could read a teleprompter well.

More important, Obama was just black enough to make voters think that by electing him they could leave behind the old racial guilt drummed into America for the last 60 years, and finally reach the sunny uplands of racial reconciliation and harmony. Thus they were already predisposed to give him the benefit of the doubt and provide him with qualities they so longed for him to possess but, as we learned, he didn’t really have. His lack of practical experience; the long lacunae in his personal history; his dodgy friendships with race-baiters (Jeremiah Wright), terrorists (Bill Ayres), sketchy ward heelers (Tony Rezko), and apologists for terror (Rashid Khalidi); his numerous gaffes blunders, and verbal stumbles; and his record as a dyed-in-the-wool leftist––all were outweighed by the mere fact that he was “black.” Not scare-the-white-folks black, but as Joe Biden said, “The first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

That reservoir of goodwill, that desperate desire not to appear “racist,” and that deep yearning to move beyond the racial melodrama, along with a besotted left-wing media covering his flanks, played a large role in getting Obama elected twice, the second time in the teeth of blunders and scandals that would have sunk a Republican, and perhaps even a different Democrat.

But the Obama phenomenon strikes me as a one-off, a fortuitous conjunction of our dysfunctional racial obsessions, grievance politics, multicultural delusions, and the economic downturn. Some will want to blame the Republican candidates as well, and there’s room for criticism of campaigns waged with the preemptive cringe. The question now is, can Hillary put that same lightening back in the electoral bottle?

Part of me thinks not. First is the fact that unlike the fresh-faced Obama of 2007, Hillary is the epitome of the old, insulated, D.C.-insider celebrity pol. She’s been on our screens for over 25 years, and most of the images evoke scandal, lies, sordid humiliation, and political skullduggery. Her public persona is one of lust for power, prestige, and money, most of which she has obtained not by her own efforts, but by marrying Bill. And she is a political dunce, unable even to fake interest in other people, or to hide her contempt for the “everyday Americans,” as her campaign patronizingly calls the voters who will decide whether or not she should be president. And let’s face it, in a world awash with 24/7 high-resolution video and image scrutiny, she’s unattractive, old, and overweight. No, that’s not sexist, for those same unfair, subjective judgments of image doom Chris Christie as well, just as they mean that no man less than 6 feet tall will ever be president again.

Finally, I don’t think the “first woman president” meme is as compelling as “first black president.” These days more women than men are enrolled in college, they live longer, and they are less likely to be victims of violent crime. Despite the “77%” myth, when data are controlled for experience, type of job, and personal choices such as childbirth, women earn as much as men. We’ve had women in high positions from Secretaries of State to CEOs, at rates that far outstrip those of black Americans. By all measures of well-being, women on average are far ahead of blacks in terms of privilege and power. It is a tacit admission of this truth that the “war on women” canard depends on making up sexual assault statistics, or complaining about the oppression of paying for one’s own birth control. Women have made too many advances over the last 50 years to sell people on the notion that electing another rich, Ivy League graduate to the presidency would have some earth-shaking significance.

So imagine Hillary with all these negatives out on the campaign trail––meeting and interacting with people, handling the neurotic or hostile heckler, answering tough, probing questions from real journalists, constantly being burdened by on-going scandals like Benghazi-gate or server-gate or foreign-money-gate, endlessly being photographed and filmed in postures or expressions that magnify the flaws no make-up, new hairstyle, or pantsuit can hide, and debating a Republican who odds are will be smarter, younger, more fluent, and more accomplished than she, and I just can’t see how she can win.

But let’s not be hasty. Hillary will run with probably a $2 billion war chest and media courtiers protecting her night and day. More important, any Democrat starts out a presidential race with several advantages. Just California, Illinois, and New York have over 100 Electoral College votes, and no Republican is going to win those states. Any Democrat pockets in advance a large majority of minority votes. Any Democrat can depend on large majorities of public employee unions, teachers from kindergarten to university, young people, single women, and the millions receiving social welfare transfers. By some estimates, that represents 45-47 percent of the electorate.

And voters, both Republican and Democrat, vote their interests, a truism that many find objectionable, but has been a banal fact of democracies since ancient Athens. And for many voters, a big federal government redistributing wealth from the few to the many serves their interests. But as James Madison said over and over, voters also have “passions” as well as interests. In the Founders’ day, the various Christian denominations and the disputes over slavery were the main sources of voters’ conflicting passions. Today, many voters have adopted progressive ideology as a pseudo-religion, a collection of ideas and assumptions that provide a meaningful narrative for their lives.

Radical egalitarianism, for example, is a key tenet of this belief. As Aristotle pointed out long ago, if people are equal in some respects––if they have equality of rights and opportunity, for example­­––they will want to be equal inall respects. They will want equality of result, not just opportunity. But as Madison said, “the various and unequal distribution of property” creates “distinct interests in society.” And those visible distinctions of wealth create envy and resentment, which in turn make attractive the narratives of unfair manipulation by “Wall Street” or the “1%,” or statements like the one Hillary made during her virtual campaign announcement: “The deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top and there is something wrong with that.” Some voters look favorably on those who promise to un-stack that deck and redistribute wealth more equally, and they accept a Leviathan federal government and its intrusive regulatory agencies, not to mention its metastasizing debt and deficits, as the price to pay for removing those inequities.

Throw in other tenets of the progressive faith––saving the planet from carbon, running other people’s lives, solving conflict through negotiation, and eliminating sexism, racism, ableism, speciesism, lookism, heteronormativism, and cisgenderism, to name a few of the exotic progressive deadly sins––and you have a large congregation, perhaps one big enough to elect the unelectable.

So the experiment of the next 18 months will show us one of two things. Either Hillary’s personal and political deficiencies will turn enough voters against her, or the progressive church will number enough members to overcome them. Of course, many other factors will affect the outcome. The quality of a Republican nominee who runs a campaign designed to win rather than not to offend, a Democrat challenger in the primaries who damages Hillary, some unforeseen event like a terrorist attack or good (or bad) economic news––all will play a role. But in the end we will wake up on November 9, 2016 having learned something either heartening or depressing about ourselves and our future.

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19 thoughts on “Hillary Can’t Win. Or Can She?”

  1. 2Posterity 4HillaryPresidencyProspects
    The Obama Regime’s usurpation of the Presidency is as to an eclipse in a Reaganesque “Shining City Upon a Hill” imagery. Followed by a Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office would be a veritable apocalyptic tragedy beset on the vaunted tradition and history of American Exceptionalism.

  2. “Can a person with no experience, no achievements, and no likability fool a majority of voters?”

    Obama won, didn’t he?

    1. I know its sometimes hard to believe now, but in 2008 Obama did have likability to the majority of voters.

  3. Rick Bonsteel

    Be careful with the “47%” talk; we know how earth-shattering a statement like that can be. Stick with more innocuous off-the-cuff remarks like “Netenyahu is an @hole”, or “Tell ‘Vlad’ that I will have more freedom to move after the election.”

  4. Empress Trudy

    I suspect she will win if only because of the Bill De Blasio Effect: terrible voter turnout but an overwhelming majority of those who do turn out. Mayor Bill got the support of 17 or 18% of NYC voters because he got 67% of the votes that turned out. He sees this as a celestial mandate for the ages. So if Hillary Clinton wins it will most likely be from the lowest voter turnout in American history. But having snatched a technical win she will declare herself Imperial Woman-Goddess-Queen of America. Once voters have already tuned out she’ll be free to prattle whatever she likes. After all, not even Hitler took power with more than 31 or 32% of the electorate.

  5. Hillary Clinton should probably be regarded as formidable. Certainly many people bought into the Obama schtick in 2008, but many Democrats did not. Obama took a big lead in 2008’s Super Tuesday primaries, but don’t forget that she won several of the large state primaries that followed. She was never able to overcome Obama’s early lead, but had there been a few more states. Obama’s apostles, while almost religious in their fervor, were probably smaller in number than Mr Hanson recalls. Also, people were awfully mad at Bush. Even many conservatives were pretty fed up with him. My dog could have won the presidency that year if he ran as a Dem.

    Ultimately, you choose between two candidates (as at the moment I’m assuming no significant third party run). If the Republican candidate can handle himself well without major stumbles or gaffs, they have a pretty decent chance. But Hillary is starting out at the pole position.

    It is interesting to ponder that the Dems have no bench. It’s Hillary or nothing. The Republicans have done very well at the state level and will likely hold Congress for years to come. Should Hillary win she will be somewhat stalemated (on balance, probably a good thing). Should a Republican win, you’ll have the federal government and about 30 states under Republican governance. You’ll also have an aging population, and as people age they do tend to become more conservative. Heck, even minorities can get that way.

    It’s often comment that the white working class has swung Republican. This is because they’ve observed that the Democrats are largely hostile to the industries that might actually hire them. The Latino working class will figure that out as well.

  6. So, the progtard church has a number of tricks up its sleeve. None can criticize the first black president, male. Then, presumably, none can the first black president, male, homosexual? Then, black transexual?

    And… None can criticize the first female president, white. Then, none the first female, black. Then, black or white, female homosexual. Then, starting out female black or white, but now our transexua POTUS.

    This, if math works anymore, can occupy the first century of this century. GOD they are so clever, these progressive church folk! Sing hallelujah, hallelujah! All PRAISE to the Progtard church team!

    When they, our masters of outsmarting us, say to what’s left of the logic inside our brains, “Jump through this suicide-for-civil-life ISSUE!”… my question is… gosh, okay, but how high?

  7. Proudly Unaffiliated

    Hillary Clinton is the matriarch of the Clinton Crime syndicate. It will be fun watching those “idealistic” progressives try to explain how they need to support her in the face of the most public, blatant and wanton corruption in modern times, maybe ever. But, yes, this article is spot on– an interesting experiment is about to unfold.

  8. Baba O'Reilly

    “debating a Republican who odds are will be smarter, younger, more fluent, and more accomplished than she, and I just can’t see how she can win.”

    Yea, that’s what Rick Lazio’s people were telling him, too. We’re gonna wake up November 9, 2016 with another Clinton in the White House. I’m transferring my Rollovers to Roth IRA’s before the leftists figure out I built that retirement on the backs of the poor.

  9. Victor, you have described Hillary accurately. Her faults will not harm her,and her base will show up on election day. The problem as I see it, is that the Republicans have so discouraged their base by their lack of action , particularly in congress, even in the majority, to block or even challenge (McConnell) Obama’s agenda, that the base will simply not show up on election day, and thus Hillary will win by default. Tell me what is the difference between to the parties now? The Republicans talk the talk , but don’t walk the walk. They have not fulfilled their 2014 promises.

  10. If the presidential election comes down to a beauty contest between Hillary and another boring white guy, then I don’t think the Republicans will have much of an advantage. Ted Cruz looks like Bela Lugosi; both Scott Walker and Marco Rubio are balding and slightly pudgy; Jeb Bush is, well, another Bush; and although Rand Paul seems to have aged reasonably well, he is hardly a tanned JFK heart throb. The only possible female candidate, Carly Fiorina, fares no better in a close-up than Hillary does.

    Hillary’s appeal to women in particular as the pants suit champion of their interests and the paragon of female power and independence will be difficult for any Republican challenger to overcome. But by the time she has spent $2.5 billion convincing every aggrieved sub group among the 47% that she is their champion as well, I don’t think there will be much any Republican can do.

    The Republicans are doomed if they run another blasé candidate like Mitt Romney, as they will never win the hearts and minds of the electorate by being Democrat lite. My advice to them is think big. Nominate someone who can take apart the Left’s arguments in a clear common sense way that everyday Americans can relate to; Nominate someone who can speak to them like adults, and whose vision for the future inspires a real “morning in America” type of confidence; Finally, nominate someone who can restore America’s promise of individual liberty that has made us such an exceptional country.

  11. I would contribute to an organization that would substantiate Ms. Clinton’s lies and flip-flops. A list would have to include her claim that she was named after the man who climbed Mt. Everest.
    Any list would have to withstand fervent attacks so video or audio recordings would be necessary.

    I am an old man. It bothers me that during my lifetime our culture has digressed to the point that Ms. Clinton can be a viable candidate.

  12. Hilly’s gotta win the nomination first. If she manages that, the answer is yes, she’s a shoo in for sure. Help!

  13. Hillary is a known quantity. She simply is. I don’t think she can spend enough money to increase her poll numbers with anybody who doesn’t already like her. The best she can hope to do is rope in people unhappy with her under with partisan loyalty.

    The Republican choice makes a huge difference. How they handle the inevitable media witch hunts and partisan slime. What issues they champion. The problem is someone too bland won’t get anybody’s attention. Any kind of hardline conservative idealogue is roadkill. And these are the two groups Republicans are used to choosing from.

    Then there’s the long parade of scandals. I think the american people are tired of the pettyness in the way scandals are prosecuted and defended against. So Hilllary’s antics generally fall on deaf ears. If Hillary does or has already done something obviously egregious and arrogant, and it comes to light, it could put her campaign into a tailspin. Nothing less will torpedo Hillary at this point.

  14. Are you kidding, Victor? I know I’m repeating the same replies. But if Obama who even after 7 years doesn’t know how to run a lemonade stand is president, then your housemaid can be one.

    Presidents don’t run the show, you know that. It’s the entourage. He gets to sign and read teleprompters and memorize what he was told to say to his guests, you know that too.

  15. Don’t worry about Mrs Clinton’s becoming president because she won’t. Too many cracks in everything she brings to her candidacy, most glaringly to me the cracks in her face. She’s 67 now and, frankly, looks a bit older, and it’s not going to get any better for her. Her star has passed and she’s too old. Not enough Americans will vote to put Granma in the White House. Just ensure you get yourselves a half-decent candidate and the next American president will be a Republican.

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