Hillary Clinton’s second race for the presidency is only about a quarter through, but she already seems to be causing general fatigue.
The lurid revelations about the Clinton Foundation proved that it was not so much a charity as a huge laundering operation. Quid pro quo donations from the global rich and powerful fueled the Clintons’ jet-setting networking.
In between political campaigns, the foundation provided sinecures for out-of-work Clinton politicos. This is hardly proof of Hillary’s grass-roots progressivism.
Then came Mrs. Clinton’s email fiasco. No one knows how the current investigation of her alleged misuse of email accounts, servers and classified information will end up. But most people accept that it was an unnecessary and self-induced scandal, brought on both by her paranoia and habitual expectation of being exempt from the law.
ABC News just disclosed that ex-president Bill Clinton sought huge speaking fees from foreign governments (well over a half-million dollars per talk), while Hillary was secretary of state. Unfortunately, some of his proposed speaking deals involved odious regimes like those of Congo and North Korea. This year, Hillary herself routinely charged universities $200,000 to $300,000 for brief talks — after decrying the cash-strapped status of indebted students. What will the Clintons not do to make money?
All these imbroglios raise more issues. Was Sen. Barack Obama, largely a political unknown at the time, really all that unstoppable in 2008? Or did Hillary simply blow a 30-point lead in the polls because then as now she proved a lousy candidate?
Can’t Hillary Clinton turn voters’ attention to her recent stewardship of American foreign policy?
Most of what happened on her watch as secretary of state is better forgotten: the destruction of a self-reliant Iraq, the rise of the Islamic State, chaos in Libya, failed reset with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, disaster in Benghazi, the alienation of Israel and moderate Arab nations, and Iran’s ascendancy.
Instead of hailing her foreign policy tenure, Clinton is now attacking her critics.
Mrs. Clinton just blasted her Republican opposition, some of whom want various federal agencies to cite undocumented immigrants who broke federal law, and then process them for deportation before hearing their applications for amnesty. She misleadingly equated that position with wanting to “literally pull people out of their homes and their workplaces, round them up and, I don’t know, put them in buses or boxcars, in order to take them across the border.”
Is it wise to tar critics with the infamous imagery of the Holocaust, in which Jews were rounded up, put in boxcars and sent to death camps?
After all, Mrs. Clinton’s own prior positions on immigration were akin to those of many of the Republicans she now attacks. Here is what then Sen. Clinton asserted in a 2003: “I am, you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants.” Note her use of the personal “immigrants,” rather than the abstract “immigration.”
Last week, Mrs. Clinton compared Republican opponents of abortion to “terrorist groups” who “don’t want to live in the modern world.”
But such ad hominem attacks on free expression are exactly what Mrs. Clinton once denounced. “I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic,” she said in 2003, ironically during the George W. Bush presidency.
Mrs. Clinton’s serial meltdowns may bring Vice President Joe Biden into the race. The only other serious Democratic alternative to Mrs. Clinton at the moment is 73-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders. He is not registered in the party whose nomination he seeks.
Mrs. Clinton’s derailment has given breathing space to Republicans. Otherwise, they would be panicking that erratic showman Donald Trump has hijacked their party and might lead it to a meltdown in 2016.
Both parties face crises — though there are more viable Republican alternatives to Mr. Trump than there are strong Democratic choices, at least for now. And whereas the upbeat Mr. Trump would probably agree with — or even welcome — charges that he is an egomaniac, Mrs. Clinton would hardly accept the equally common impression that she cannot tell the truth.
Hillary’s latest troubles reflect a quarter-century of Clinton habits that transcend time and space.
Both Bill and Hillary seem to have always believed they should be exempt from the law. Both seem needlessly tawdry in their avarice. Their cover-ups often prove even more damaging than their indiscretions.
Bill was always the far better speaker and political schmoozer than Hillary. And now Hillary is proving — again — that she prefers slandering accusers rather than refuting accusations.
Are Hillary’s first four and a half months of campaigning a glimpse of the next 14?
If so, the Democratic Party — and the country — are going to be utterly exhausted.
• Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.