Hillary Clinton Is Still Fighting for the Soul of the Democratic Party. She’s Losing
Democrats may fashion themselves to be progressives, but they can’t seem to progress beyond the contentious 2016 election that nearly tore their party in two. The latest event to drag them back through the past is the upcoming release of Hillary Clinton’s memoire—“What Happened”—an epic attempt at shifting blame to anyone and everything but her poor candidacy.
Politico’s Bill Scher reports:
Democrats are living their own version of Groundhog Day. Every day, they wake up and realize they are still in the 2016 presidential primary.
The leaked excerpts of Hillary Clinton’s campaign memoir, “What Happened,” have stirred up another round of relitigation over, well, what happened. Clinton reserves some blame for Vladimir Putin, James Comey and herself. But it’s her fingering of Bernie Sanders that has cheered her loyalists, enraged his, and made every other Democrat consider emulating Bill Murray by taking a bath with a plugged-in toaster.
Clinton doesn’t pull any punches in her attacks on Bernie Sanders, the fiery, self-styled Democratic Socialist who now serves as one of Democrats’ standard bearers, even though he still refuses to join the party.
That outsider label is one of the things that apparently stuck in Clinton’s craw.
“He certainly shared my horror at the thought of Donald Trump becoming President, and I appreciate that he campaigned for me in the general election,” Clinton writes in her book. “But he isn’t a Democrat — that’s not a smear, that’s what he says. He didn’t get into the race to make sure a Democrat won the White House, he got in to disrupt the Democratic Party.”
The unstated undercurrent flowing through this passages is that Sanders’ doesn’t care about the party or its legacy, but is instead selfishly dragging it towards his preferred policy ends, even if that means Election Day losses.
In another leaked passage of the book Clinton questions whether those policies are workable, or even real. She argues that the “Bernie Bros” would eat up anything the Vermont senator said in the name of helping their candidate usher is a “political revolution. The problem was, she argues, “his plans didn’t add up” and “would inevitably mean raising taxes on middle-class families” which meant “they were little more than a pipe dream.”
The fact that Sanders’ got to live in a liberal utopian dream land, while Clinton was tethered to reality and math, left her feeling chaffed. In the book Clinton equates Sanders’ grandiose plans with the get-rich-quick scheme from There’s Something About Mary in which a character comes up with “Seven-Minute Abs” to undercut the popular workout regimen “Eight-Minute Abs.”
“That’s what it was like in policy debates with Bernie. We would propose a bold infrastructure investment plan or ambitious new apprenticeship program for young people, and then Bernie would announce the same thing, but bigger,” she wrote. “On issue after issue, it was like he kept promising four-minute abs, or even no-minute abs. Magic abs!”
Unsurprisingly, Sanders is not taking the accusation that he’s little more than a snake oil salesman lying down.
“Secretary Clinton ran against the most unpopular candidate in the history of this country,” he told Stephen Colbert. “And she lost, and she was upset about it, and I understand that. But our job is really not to go backward. It is to go forward.”
“I think it’s a little silly to keep talking about 2016. We’ve got too many problems.”
To an increasing number of Democrats, Clinton herself is one of those problems. Her continued finger pointing and refusal to ride into the sunset is sure to rip open the wounds of 2016, and it comes at a time when Democrats are desperate to portray a unified front against Republicans.
“Maybe at the worst possible time, as we are fighting some of the most high-stakes policy and institutional battles we may ever see, at a time when we’re trying to bring the party together so we can all move the party forward — stronger, stronger together,” said Rep. Jared Huffman, a Democrat and one-time Clinton supporter. “She’s got every right to tell her story. Who am I to say she shouldn’t, or how she should tell it? But it is difficult for some of us, even like myself who’ve supported her, to play out all these media cycles about the blame game, and the excuses.” …
“There is a collective groan,” he said, “whenever there’s another news cycle about this.”
But for Clinton that may be the point. She sees the Democrat Party shifting towards Sanders’-brand snake oil and is attempting to do anything she can to slow that transition. Just as Sanders’ did in the general election her goal is not Democrats’ near-term electoral success, but instead to disrupt what she sees as a troubling trend toward extremism. And so long as today’s party leaders continue to push the party away from its foundations and towards unrealistic socialism, she will refuse to fade away.
“There were plenty of people hoping that I, too, would just disappear,” she writes in her book. “But here I am.”