The Real Dilemma Facing the Hillary Campaign

It would be easy for a logical and moral person to assume that the email scandal with Hillary Clinton was going to be her downfall. Her explanation does not merely amount to, “I deleted a TON of stuff illegally, and you have to trust me that it was all benign” – rather, that is her EXPLICIT explanation. Whether it be what you want to be the case or believe ought to be the case, no one else on God’s green earth would survive something so audacious. It would be like having an affair with someone your daughter’s age in the Oval Office and coming out of it with 68% popularity. Okay, maybe one other person would get away with it.

It also would be easy to think the Clinton Foundation scandal would be her downfall. Americans hate cronyism when they know about it, and even the leftwing press has hit her for this little mystery. I suspect there has been damage done through this, but the fatal blow has not yet ben struck.

Her overall liability or lack thereof may very well be her political downfall, but it is too early for me to say that, and I am not objective enough to be the arbiter of how the rest of society perceives her. I know of very few people this side of Gloria Steinem that can honestly say they like her, and I do not believe unlikable people win elections in a media age unless their opponent is George McGovern. But Hillary has a certain demographic advantage (if she can hold it) that said at least in 2012 that the Deems are the team to beat.

So what is the dilemma Hillary faces that I see as THE SINGLE BIGGEST ISSUE WE SHOULD BE WATCHING? The extraordinary tension that I honestly cannot fathom how she will wrestle out of is essentially this:

On one hand, the big pitch is, “remember that 1990’s prosperity under the last Clinton where we got stuff done with Republicans, the economy was growing, profits were soaring, unemployment low, free trade booming, stock prices climbing, business rolling, and American competitiveness smoking, well vote for me to see all that come back”.

But now the pitch has to be, ”remember all that big business nonsense and income inequality of globalization evil and stock market wealth and corporate profits and corporate greed and disregard for the environment, well vote for me to see all that go away”

The argument that she would represent the second coming of the 1990’s is probably deeply flawed, but it’s a heckuva political argument to make. It would be better than Jeb Bush promising us another Iraq war or housing bubble collapse, right? I cannot imagine Hillary prosecuting an argument without making her campaign a subtle contrast between 1990’s prosperity and Barack Obama doldrums. She cannot risk losing the coalition that Obama has and so she will not be able to go negative on him, but she can go positive on Bill and the 90’s, but what was positive about Bill and the 90’s besides economic prosperity, growth, a reduction in capital gain taxes, growing wealth (including a growing wealth gap), free trade, etc. And ATTACKING THOSE VERY THINGS is the HEART of what the Democratic platform and party stands for right now. She has no choice but to appease Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Daily Kos, and Rolling Stone (the pillars of leadership in modern liberalism) by running as a card-carrying Sandinista. Is she going to go on stage with Robert Rubin and Larry Summers and Goldman Sachs executives and talk about wealth redistribution? Dear Lord.

This is not going to be an easy needle to thread. I’ll be watching. So should you. The reality is that the winning message is one that promotes a gospel of economic growth and prosperity for ALL people, not to accomplish a class flattening or to make connected people richer, but rather a pro-growth agenda that creates opportunity in this, the land of opportunity. The Democratic party cannot and will not run on that because they do not believe in it. If the GOP does not tell that message against this email-destroying scandal-wrapped cronyistic centimillionaire elitist who is running as a Sandinista college student, then we seriously do not deserve to win.