- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2014

Hillary Clinton needs a conscience transplant, and she needs it now. Her book tour is in a shambles, the fate of her $14 million advance from her publisher is marooned somewhere in limbo. She’s under 50 percent approval for the first time in the presidential polling for 2016, and, scariest of all, she’s having to call on Bubba for help. She knows better than to become merely “a wife of,” but 2014 is beginning to smell like 2008, and she’s Miss Inevitability once more. This is dj vu all over again.

Some of the learned pundits, who only yesterday were writing about “the five reasons why Hillary is a lock for the White House,” are writing now about “five reasons why Hillary won’t run.” The budding consensus is that (1) she’s just not very good at politics; (2) there’s no “fire in the tummy”; (3) who wants to clean up after Barack Obama, any way; (4) the country wants real change; and (5) another round of “Clinton, Bush, Clinton” with children of both families waiting in the wings, is thrilling nobody.

The pollsters, consultants and campaign wizards who are paid to know all the answers are puzzled by Hillary’s flopping around like a hen suddenly beheaded by events she was expected to control. “Even more than her dwindling leads over Republican contenders is that while she is pretty much running against herself, in a very high-profile book tour, she is losing ground,” says pollster John Zogby. “Her biggest problem is the inevitably factor. It helped do her in in 2007-2008, and right now it looks to be her major nemesis. She has this whole playing field to herself and is declining in the polls.” That’s definitely not good.

A poll taken in 2014 is gossamer, as substantial as a cloud in a summer sky, and isn’t worth much as a projection of who can actually win an election in 2016. It can tell a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of a prospective campaigner. Since every voter already knows what he thinks of her, Mr. Zogby tells columnist Paul Bedard, there isn’t much she can do, even with Bubba at her side, to broaden her support. Her numbers should be going up, and they’re definitely going down.

The Clintons, him and her, are revealed as money grubbers, looking for cash in all the easy places, and Hillary imagines nobody will notice the greed if she poses as the selfless philanthropist, Lady Bountiful giving away her $250,000 speaker’s fees to the Clinton family foundation. The public, however, is on to the foundation scam, which looks like a tax dodge. The Clintons control their foundation, and the public suspects that the chief beneficiaries of the foundation “charity” are named Bill, Hillary and Chelsea.

Conscience transplants are beyond the skill of modern medicine, and short of a miracle from Obamacare, maybe she should look for something useful from the funny papers.

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Joanie Phonie was a character in the heyday of Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner,” believed to have been loosely modeled on folk singer Joan Baez, who, like Hillary, was bereft of the common touch. When Joanie ran across a child who had fallen, lying helpless and bruised in the street, she imagined that the way to help was to step on him. That gave the kid an incentive to get up and give her a smack.

Then Joanie heard that the orphanage had run out of heat, light and groceries, and the children were starving. So she, with the heart as big as all outdoors, donated $10,000 to the orphanage — not in mere cash, but in Vietnam War protest songs.

Miss Baez, with the liberal’s usual disdain for somebody else’s free speech, demanded that Mr. Capp eliminate the character, threatening to sue and to do all manner of ugly things to make him stop. Mr. Capp was puzzled. “Joanie Phoanie is a repulsive, egomaniacal, un-American, nontaxpaying horror,” said he. “I see no resemblance to Joan Baez whatsoever, but if Miss Baez wants to prove there is, let her.” Miss Baez shut up, and Miss Phonie lived out her days in Dogpatch.

There are hundreds of thousands of young people, some of them in orphanages and some of them on campus, and a lot of grownups who live such barren lives they have never heard a $250,000 speech. They have never heard Hillary’s rollicking jokes and funny stories, her warmth and wit, the timing that put Bob Hope in the shade, her ability to keep an audience screaming for more.

Hillary could treat them all to one of her famous speeches, proof that what she’s selling is not access to a president to be named later.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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