Democrats Didn’t Realize the Gamble They Were Taking on Hillary Clinton. They Do Now

The greatest trick Hillary Clinton ever pulled was to convince Democrats that she was the inevitable nominee. Clinton has been building the perfect résumé ever since her husband, Bill, stepped out of the Oval Office. She’s assembled a donor base, erm…group of friends, that includes some of the richest, most influential people on earth. She’s been a U.S. Senator. She’s been the nation’s top diplomat. And she’s been an active force in building a billion dollar foundation from scratch. But résumés can’t capture the intangibles—integrity, honor, wisdom, relatability, etc.—that ultimately decide most presidential elections.

Hillary Clinton lacks these intangibles. She’s calculating, evasive, thin-skinned, and querulous, none of which exactly scream: “Let me be your president.” But somehow, in choosing their nominee, Democrats have opted to ignore personal qualities that can’t be summed up on paper, an especially odd choice considering personal charm, not a stunning resume, was the chief rationale for choosing Barack Obama as a candidate.

Unfortunately for Democrats, even though words can’t necessarily capture Clinton’s problematic persona, they can be used to create a list of her transgressions, one that is at least as long as her political resume. Kimberley Strassel writes for the Wall Street Journal:

Say this about Bill and Hillary Clinton: They are predictable. Some politicians dare to change, even to evolve, but not the former first couple. In these uncertain political times, Team Clinton’s lack of ethics—and its stock response when caught—is our one constant.

The details change, of course. In 1978 it was lucrative cattle futures; in 2014 it was lucrative speeches. In the 1990s it was missing Whitewater and Rose Lawfirm records; today it is missing emails. In 2000 it was cash for pardons; now it’s cash for Russian uranium mines. In Little Rock, it was Bill’s presidential campaign vehicle; in New York, it’s Hillary’s—and now known as the Clinton Foundation. Details.

Individually, each suggestion of scandal or hint of impropriety may be ignored, but taken together they suggest that the Clintons don’t play by the rules, or at least that they like to play in that space that exists so often between the letter and the spirit of the rules. But for whatever reason Democrats don’t seem to care. Perhaps they are transfixed by the size of her campaign coffers or the magnitude of her political operations. Perhaps they feel it’s “her turn” because she lost a close race for the nomination last time. Or perhaps they feel like they owe it to her for her many long years under the shadow of more powerful men.

Whatever the reason, they ought to know that they are doing it at their own risk. Josh Kraushaar writes for National Journal:

Democrats didn’t fully appreciate the size of the gamble they’re taking on Hillary Clinton by assuming she’s their strongest 2016 candidate, but they’re sure finding out now.

Forget the email server. The latest revelation—that a Canadian mining company with close ties to the Clinton Foundation sold its uranium business to the Russians with approval from Clinton’s State Department—is more damaging than any of the previous controversies that have buffeted the campaign. . .

These are glaring red flags that would usually be an inducement for other Democratic candidates to run and challenge her. But the normal rules of politics don’t seem to apply in a Clinton-controlled Democratic Party.

But the rules are still operating somewhat normally outside of the Democratic Party bubble. Typically, candidates see a surge in popularity following the announcement of their candidacy as the build up of “will she, or won’t she” gets turned into the momentary excitement of “she is!” But Hillary’s campaign didn’t see the boomlet. Instead, the last poll from Quinnipiac, which was taken before the bombshell of her questionable dealings with Russia over uranium, shows that a plurality of Americans (47 percent) already view Clinton unfavorably. Worse for Democrats is the fact that only 38 percent of respondents say they view her as honest, while 54 percent disagree.

In spite of the scandals splashed across the news, or even the slumping poll numbers, Clinton still seems destined to become her party’s nominee. And although I don’t count myself as part of its membership, or even particularly sympathetic to its cause, I can’t help but feel some sense of sadness that a party called the Democrats can’t muster up some sort of primary challenger to help the public weigh the merits of her resume against the demerits of her persona.