As first lady, Hillary Clinton went through it all. It’s especially easy to see why she would now place a high value on loyalty. But is it healthy for a new president to be so surrounded by battle-hardened loyalists? Would the surfeit of loyalists she’s accumulated displace the hiring of staffers who would bring needed outside perspectives and also the newbie’s focus on advancing the country rather than Team Hillary?
She’d also enter the White House knowing how to manipulate the levers of power. Experience was part of the case she made for herself in 2008, and after Foggy Bottom, she has even more of it. In many ways, that’s a good thing, but one needn’t look very far back to see its dark side. Dick Cheney’s familiarity with the levers of power enabled him to sneakily exercise too much of it. The problem wasn’t just that he was vice president. Long experience taught him how to aggregate maximum power in the executive branch. Is that the sort of vice that would temp Hillary Clinton?
I rather think so.
The best line in the Times article quotes an unnamed acquaintance of Bill Clinton, who captured the Clinton family’s past and present: “Brilliant people get away with a lot in Clinton world.”
My big disagreement is that I do think that healthy parties (1) will take better advantage of their time in office, and (2) that will strongly tend to help them stay in office. But I agree with his basic conclusion that out-party dysfunction doesn’t have significant electoral effects.
That’s how he threads the primary needle: by pugnacity eclipsing differences in substance, and by appealing to the party’s raw desire to win back power. The drawback is obvious: speeches like these reek of self-love and contempt for anyone who differs with him. Some dissenters observed that he came off like “a pompous ass.” And that irascible, take-no-prisoners rhetoric does not come off as presidential to me. It works as a governor in a Democratic state, but not at a national level.
Nonetheless, I don’t believe anyone should under-estimate the core appeal of this man to a party desperate to regain the initiative after being foiled brilliantly and repeatedly by Obama in his cool way. Hillary will be a far less formidable opponent because the wingnuts get under her skin in a way that they don’t under Obama’s. So remember today what Christie’s telling us about the future: I am going to do anything I need to do to win.
And believe it.
A former Washington Post ombudsman thinks Jennifer Rubin should get fired. I have to agree. The woman is a horrible writer, especially compared to Dave Weigel, who got booted from the Post for ideological reasons.