By Reed Galen
Sunday, March 8th, 2015
Days Until Iowa Caucus: 330
Officially Declared Candidates: 1 (Dr. Ben Carson)
Quote of the Week: “You say facts, facts, facts, but during a political campaign, facts don’t matter.” Carol Costello – CNN
Welcome to the American Singularity.
Why the Singularity?
· The presidential nominating process is one in which everything, large and small, is sucked into its gravitational maw, allowing nothing to escape its grasp as events pass through the campaign cycle’s event horizon.
· There is no more singular political experience on the planet than electing the President of the United States.
· The United States is still the most free, most prosperous and brightest beacon of hope to billions around the world.
Every action and reaction feeds into this black hole of press coverage, donor reactions, voter sentiment and activist opinions. Nothing goes unnoticed and nothing is forgotten. Legions of reporters, bloggers, opposition researchers, trackers, social media monitoring services, vacuum up every last syllable.
Every week we’ll take a look at the campaign as it unfolds, and how events reflect the campaigns, the issues of the day and the country at large. Have a tip, piece of advice or something to add? Email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
This Week: The Clintons’ Funhouse Mirror
I was going to dedicate this week to national security, Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran and Southern Democrats willing to say terrible things about Israeli leaders in public at behest of the White House. But then, just when you think they’re done, the Clintons pull you back in. With the revelation that then-Secretary Hillary Clinton declined the use of a State Department-issued email account, the political world – press and campaigns alike, jumped on the story, which has only marched down the weirdness road as its gone.
Hillary’s Homebrew Email System: Take one healthy dose of self-importance; add two tablespoons of lack-of-transparency, a cup of are-you-kidding-me and mix vigorously. Then set up a bunch of computer gear in a fancy New York City suburb that no one knows about.
As Paul Begala, long-time friend and defender of the Clinton clan so eloquently put it, “Voter’s do not give a shit about. They do not even give a fart.” (Note: Nice) And Begala may be right, ultimately. But the whole situation puts Bill and Hillary Clinton back into the center of another self-inflicted maelstrom. While voters may overlook it, there are real implications to her presidential aspirations.
The Clintons, who have had every aspect of their lives examined since 1991, are famously clannish, tight-knit and convinced the world is out to get them. This belief causes them to do things they likely shouldn’t do (in the name of privacy or charity, taken your pick) and despite their best efforts to keep it a secret, someone exposes their actions. Once the sunshine is upon them, they go into porcu-skunk mode, shooting quills and noxious fumes at their tormenters. As they attack, they claim they haven’t done anything wrong, find some moral equivalence or point and claim, “but they do it, too!"
It must be both fascinating and exhausting to view the world through the fun-house prism the Clintons have created for themselves, and through which they wish us to see them in return. Does hiding your email server in your rumpus room make you unfit to be President? Not in and of itself, no. But as my wife said, “If she’s willing to do something like that when she’s Secretary of State, what would she do as President?”
Fault Lines: Clintonistas vs. Obamaites
The White House doesn’t want to talk about the emails. The State Department doesn’t appear able to answer a question coherently, let alone figure out what they’re supposed to do next. But as this story has unfolded, perceptible cracks are starting to show between the Hillaryland and Obamaville. Let’s remember that following the 2008 primary campaign, there was no love lost between the two camps.
The number of Obama loyalists willing to speak on background to any reporter with a cellphone or microphone will grow as the scandal unfolds. They likely see President Obama as a leader who shouldn’t have to contend with his archrival’s problems making his life harder as he finishes his time in the White House. Indeed, having scripted out the President’s final two years in office designed to establish the Obama Legacy, all they’ve heard is “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary,”
White Dwarf Syndrome
Bill and Hillary have a small cadre of loyalists on whom they have relied for decades. Many of them have already climbed up out of their trench and are marching across no-man’s land for their benefactors.
But for Hillary’s campaign, the lack of trust in anyone but those chosen few makes running a 21st century campaign extremely difficult. As I wrote late last year, if Hillary truly wants to take advantage of all the talented operatives from the Obama campaigns, she will have to give them responsibility and trust. The email flap is exactly the type of event will cause the Clintons to close ranks and keep out all but those who have bled sufficiently to earn their keep.
And those loyalists have not, will not, and will never forgive anyone associated with Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. That was Hillary’s time. It was supposed to be the renewal in the Clintons and America. And Obama took that from them. I’ve seen it up close. It will rack her campaign.
What’s more, the groups supposed to be allied with one another to support her proto-campaign can’t even get along, what’s to say a bunch of new kids on the block will get any hearing from the Clintonistas?
Should this play out as predicted, like a dying star, Hillary’s campaign will suffer an excruciating, extended implosion resulting in her defeat. She will be like a white dwarf star: Still visible but barely generating enough heat to sustain life, or gravity to hold her solar system together.
Once You Start, You Can’t Stop
While Clinton 2016 isn’t slated to step off for another couple of months, email-gate will cloud anything she does announcing her vision for the country. Regardless of the venue of an announcement event or the quality of the speech, the first question a reporter will ask in that first sit-down interview will be, “Secretary Clinton, what about the email?” (I guess they could always give George Stephanopoulos the first crack at her…)
Rather than having two to three days of clean air and positive media, the press shop will be screaming at reporters for asking about ‘old news’ or a ‘dead story’ that’s not worthy of the journalists or a presidential candidate.
Maybe they’ll do another web video (a la 2007) and repeat, “She’s In It to Win It.” That’s not likely to fly and it is unlikely that a McKinley-esque campaign run from her front porch in Chappaqua or Georgetown is likely to have much success.
The Known Unknown
I was having coffee with a friend of mine and discussing Hillary’s Homebrew. He posited that there are thousands of people on the other end of all those missing emails and some of them likely to start showing up in reporters’ in-boxes. What could possibly be in them? To continue, it’s only a matter of time before Foggy Bottom starts leaking like a sieve, making more messages public. If those two things don’t happen, the Benghazi committee will probably make dittos of them for anyone who wants a peek.
Even for the Clintons there’s no such thing as a secret anymore.
It’s A Little Secret, Just the Clinton(son’s) Affair/Most of All You’ve Got to Hide it From the Kids
Kids who are 18 today were three years old when Bill Clinton left office. Even those that voted for their first president in 2012 were only seven or eight. Many Millennials probably see Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton as celebrities as much as anything else.
They have no memory of Bill Clinton’s presidency, the highs or the lows. They have no frame of reference for Whitewater, Monica or Ken Starr. If they know Hillary at all, it’s because she was Secretary of State, but how much attention does that get when you’re 16 and trying not to crash your mom’s car.
A whole new generation of voters is being introduced to the mystifying carousel that is the Clintonian version of public life. While Bill was “The Man from Hope” in 1992, Hillary is a grandmother – old enough to be some Millennials’ grandmother. How will her campaign reach out to them, a cohort who may be liberal socially, but doesn’t like authority, and don’t like labels. The droves that turned out for Barack Obama don’t necessarily translate to Hillary Clinton.
A given week taken out of context in a presidential campaign can appear to have out-sized importance to the race writ large. While taken as a whole, that’s not usually the case, this week will have an effect on the tenor and texture of the race for both Republicans and Democrats. While Republicans still have to make their own case to the American people, those that remember the at-times turbulent days of the last Clinton presidency may throw up their hands and say, “Enough already!”
Paranoia: /noun/ Psychiatry. A mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others, sometimes progressing to disturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense or as a mission.
Author’s Note: This series is not in any way related to Harold Hyman’s American Singularity – The 1787 Northwest Ordinance, 1862 Homestead and Morrill Acts and the 1944 GI Bill.