Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

If Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Shut Up She’ll Re-Elect Trump

It's all about her. Just like always.
April 26, 2019
If Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Shut Up She’ll Re-Elect Trump
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Some days it seems as if Hillary Clinton gets up in the morning determined to light up Seb Gorka’s Twitter feed. After all, every time she opens her mouth she starts a brush fire in MAGA land, selling more Lock Her Up t-shirts and making Trumpkins forget about the latest bizarre/pathetic stunt/proclamation from their God-Emperor. A consuming rage against HRC takes hold and we’re back to her standing in a bright primary-colored pant suit telling us in snotty tones her ludicrous fiction about how the criminal investigation in to her server was actually just “a security review.”

It’s a nightmare for everyone but President Trump. For him, it’s manna.

I’m kidding of course. At about the part where Clinton cares about triggering MAGA Land. Because for Hillary Clinton, it’s always about her. We knew this when they ran against each other: Clinton is as narcissistic as the Donald, and often just as un-self aware. She loves to hear herself talk, thinks her BS doesn’t stink, and she lies—well, perhaps not as much as he does, but still with repulsive ease.

Clinton still gets plum perches at conferences such as the Time 100 Summit this week, where she was asked about Robert Mueller’s findings and responded that any person who wasn’t president would be indicted for the obstructive conduct the special counsel discovered. And then, just to prove that this wasn’t a temporary misstep from someone who was really trying to stay out of the spotlight, she turned around a day later and wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post calling for Watergate-style hearings. In it she lectured members of both parties that “the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless.” It would be one thing if she inserted herself into this moment because she had something important to say. But then, if she had any sense of how to speak important truths to the country, she’d be president right now.

Instead, it’s all about her. Again. Clinton’s piece reminds readers that she happens to be a lawyer, and was a staffer on the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate impeachment proceedings in 1974. And funnily enough, mentions that she was “First Lady during the impeachment process that began in 1998,” which couldn’t be more a more bizarre description since she was more like the wife of the adulterer who lied under oath and the person who tried to gaslight America by calling her husband’s crime a “conspiracy” while quarterbacking the team that pioneered the “deny, deny, deny” defense. But say what you will: She probably knows as much about impeachment as anyone alive.

In her Post op-ed, Clinton concedes that no one wants to hear from her but because she’s such a Russia expert, we have to listen anyway. So she reads aloud from her CV:

Obviously, this is personal for me, and some may say I’m not the right messenger. But my perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot. I am also a former Senator and Secretary of State who served during much of Vladimir Putin’s ascent, sat across the table from him and knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country.

Of course what Clinton proposes—aside from both parties putting politics aside and being all fearless—is pragmatic and is basically what every rational Democrat from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to liberal columnist E.J. Dionne was already recommending: Let’s just find out what happened first; impeachment is but one possibility on a distant horizon.

It’s classic Hillary: Seeking the spotlight, making Democrats cringe and run for cover, and baiting Trumpland—all at once. Steve Cortes eviscerated her in an interview with Anderson Cooper: “We can’t bypass that the deliverer of this sermon on obstruction of justice is, from all people, Hillary Clinton. That is really the height of hypocrisy, and shows once again that she is really the paragon of arrogance. That she would dare to lecture us about tampering with an investigation.”

Only Hillary Clinton has the power to make a frothing Trump surrogate look half-way reasonable.

Any day now Joe Biden will get hit with Hillary questions, and so will the other primary candidates. This is unlikely to be a helpful situation for any of them, because there are no good answers. Support Clinton and you lose independents. Criticize her and you lose party die-hards.

There’s a reason why former presidents and party nominees mostly retire from partisan life: Because it’s rare that they can be helpful to their side.

Another twice-defeated grandma might figure it’s time to humble up and go away. You might expect that of her not just because most former presidents and party nominees retire from partisan life, but because it’s her patriotic duty and would show some damn humility.

But of course not.

Instead, Hillary and Bill are back on the road. Yes, they figured out how to reboot after last year’s disastrous “tour,” where America’s least-favorite couple attempted to fill large theatres with adoring fans who flocked to hear their killer political perspectives, accounts of their good-doing at the Clinton Foundation—both pre- and post-email deletion—and to witness the amazing chemistry of their super normal marital arrangement where for most of the year they live in separate homes. Because it makes the heart grow fonder. Or something.

The revival tour didn’t work. The new re-revival tour will take them to Boston, Washington, Detroit, New York, Philly, and Wallingford Connecticut with their friends (“friends”?) Ben Stiller, Paul Begala, Star Jones, Jordan Klepper, Tony Goldwyn, and Nnamdi Asomugha. Special guests are always the key to propping up old acts.

Though Clinton continues to spread campaign money around in a bid to stay relevant, not one Democrat asked Hillary to campaign for them in the 2018 midterms, and not one Democratic 2020 candidate has embraced her, either.

Yet the Clintons will find a way to stay in the conversation and Democrats will be punished as a result. It will be MAGA Mission Accomplished, with tweets and cable news segments and fundraising letters and fiery op-eds all emerging like mushrooms after a rainstorm. You can’t keep Hillary Clinton off of her soapbox. She persists.

How fortunate for President Trump.

A.B. Stoddard

A.B. Stoddard is a columnist at The Bulwark. Previously, she was associate editor and columnist at RealClearPolitics.