Pols and pundits have been in agreement on one thing this year: Hillary Clinton will be the Democrats’ nominee next year. And she seems to think so, too. That’s why she is confident that she can stiff-arm pesky reporters and avoid taking any questions from them. They don’t vote in Democratic primaries or caucuses in numbers sufficient to worry about. So what if they’re put off by her stately procession to her coronation?
But, we should ask ourselves some tough questions. If you were a liberal activist, why would you want Hillary to be your nominee? During the Clinton years—now happily receding in the rear-view—liberals got scandals and little else. Yes, there were those vetoes of pro-life measures. TIME Magazine’s Nina Burleigh brazenly said she would happily do for Bill what Monica Lewinsky had done just to thank him “for keeping abortion legal.”
Even with a legal ban on partial-birth abortion—subsequently signed by President George W. Bush—we still see more than one million unborn children killed by abortion annually in this country. That’s a national tragedy and an irretrievable loss.
Apart from his vetoes, what did Bill and Hillary achieve for the Left? The reason we call nationalized health care Obamacare is because Hillary’s much-touted 1994 version crashed and burned on takeoff.
The reason we got Obamacare in 2010 is that a Democratic Congress didn’t read the bill. The reason we didn’t get Hillarycare in 1994 is because a Democratic Congress did read the bill. Her plan was a Rube Goldberg contraption that she and Ira Magaziner concocted.
Then there was welfare reform. Bill Clinton finally signed the Republican bill in 1996—only after twice vetoing it. Liberals were furious. Barack Obama effectively gutted that most important example of bi-partisanship and social success since the Reagan years.
The Defense of Marriage Act? That measure passed in a Republican-controlled Congress in 1996, but Democratic President Bill Clinton signed it. That bill was so strongly supported that we could have passed it in both Houses without a single Republican vote.
If you’re a liberal activist, you might demand to know why Hillary didn’t press Bill to veto the Defense of Marriage Act.
Barack Obama flouted that law from the day he entered the White House. Nixon was impeached for “failure to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Hillary helped draft those impeachment articles in 1974.
Recruiting openly homosexual members for our all-volunteer military was banned by the Defense bills that President Clinton signed. He deviously dubbed the law “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell,” but that was not its text or its intent. The law Bill Clinton approved bluntly said homosexuality is “incompatible with military service.”
Under Bill Clinton, Ukraine was persuaded to give its nuclear weapons over to Moscow. As Secretary of State, Hillary threatened Russians, saying they would “pay a price.” It seems the price they paid is pocketing the Crimea. Would the Kremlin have tried this with a nuclear-armed Ukraine? Hard to know. But Clinton diplomacy doesn’t look far-sighted today.
Under Bill Clinton, with America and the world distracted by the stench of yet another White House scandal, U.S. ships and embassies were attacked with impunity. Osama bin Laden declared war on us and Saddam Hussein kicked UN arms inspectors out of his country.
As a U.S. Senator, Hillary’s only significant action in eight years was to vote to send American troops to Iraq.
Barack Obama beat her in the Democratic primaries of 2008, largely because he appealed to the party’s pacifist base. As President, he pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq.
In short, there are few reasons if you are a liberal activist to want Hillary as your nominee. And, unlike the GOP, where the party apparatus has for decades had strong input from the moderate wing, among Democrats, liberals tend to get what they want.
In the Republican Party, the large number of good conservative candidates often means they knock each other out in fund-raising and early partisan skirmishing. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty might have been a strong general election candidate, but he was forced out early in 2011 because he was unwilling to savage rival Mitt Romney.
Among the Democrats, however, nomination contests can be nasty, brutish, and short.
So let’s not be too surprised if Hillary does not survive the early rounds of the Democrats’ demolition derby. And let’s be ready for whomever they put up. It doesn’t help for conservatives to accept the conventional wisdom—which so often proves to be unwise.
Can we remember President Ed Muskie, President Gary Hart, President Howard Dean?
Photo credit: “Hillary Clinton at the Senate Armed Services Committee” by Chad J. McNeeley – Defense.gov. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union, and on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.