Gail Sheehy: Hillary’s only expectation – The Leader
On the day right after Hillary Clinton went on “60 Minutes” to hide the lies of her husband — 21 years ago — I rode knee-to-knee with her in a small plane and listened to her rehearse her war strategy: “Pound the Republican attack machine and blame the press.”
The events of the past week have confirmed a nagging fear: Those of us who’d hoped the controlling, deceptive, defensive Clinton of years previous had grown into a far more mature kind of leader are wrong.
She has reacted to a series of genuine press reports raising serious queries about her use of a private e-mail server to conduct the public’s enterprise although secretary of state by going into bunker stance and attacking the messengers. We have observed this face on Hillary too often before, and it is deeply unappealing.
If Clinton desires to rebuild trust with voters and win the White House, she requirements to sideline her arrogant instincts. She must show humility. It’s time she speaks candidly about her blunders and what she has discovered from them.
None of this is going to take place unless an individual makes it come about.
That someone will not be her husband or a reporter. It can only be a credible Democratic challenger for the presidency who can build clear contrasts and ultimately explode the myth that attacking Hillary is always an act of partisan warfare.
The obvious challenger, the 1 with a true chance to sharpen Hillary’s candidacy if not derail it totally, is Elizabeth Warren.
What we learned this week, by way of the New York Instances and Connected Press, is that Clinton deliberately set up a private e-mail method to use for all of public small business she conducted as the nation’s chief foreign policy officer. She did so despite explicit rules prohibiting that behavior.
When asked to turn over documents to the State Division, her aides combed by means of and turned over thousands of pages. What was held back? Or altered? Or erased? We have no thought.
And with every single passing day, suspicions of her motives grow darker. Technologies authorities now say her private e-mail program gave her the potential to delete messages. It opened her communications to hackers that State warned were a threat.
Most shocking is the truth that her secretive e-mail address seems to have enabled Clinton and the State Department to evade Freedom of Info Law requests from journalists. This law is 1 of the triumphs of liberalism, meant to safeguard the public’s ideal to know when a government official refuses to give up information and facts. Due to the fact she used a private address, such requests by The AP to the State Division came up empty for a year. The organization is now deliberating no matter if to sue.
In spite of the cascade of bad news, the Clinton camp’s predictable reaction to such revelations is to hunker down and attack the messengers.
As all this swirled, the woman at the center of the meltdown remained, for all practical purposes, in hiding. She waited till Wednesday night to react with a single tweet: “I want the public to see my e mail. I asked State to release them. They mentioned they will review them for release as soon as probable.”
But the query is not regardless of whether the State Division will release what the Clinton political team turned over. It is why the team place State in this not possible position in the first place. It could take months for the division to comb through the 55,000 pages of emails that Hillary chose to transmit.
According to sources who talked to Bloomberg Politics, Clinton and her team have now decided to duck and cover till she formally announces her candidacy, probably in April. They will apparently rely on the insulting belief that the public is too dumb to bear in mind.
While the official Hillary camp hid out, surrogates stepped up. A single of her few defenders was David Brock, the shape-shifter who morphed from a correct-wing hitman in the early 90s into a left-leaning apologist for the Clintons as founder of Media Matters.
Taking a web page from Hillary’s playbook, Brock appeared on MSNBC to blame the scandal on an anti-Clinton media.
I suppose he would have us think that the Washington Post is biased against Clinton. That should be why the Post was 1st to report that at different times, the Clinton Foundation has accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments, including Hamas-supporting Qatar and Saudi Arabia, an ostensible ally with strong hyperlinks to radical Islam.
Is it Republican paranoia to be concerned that such countries might use the Clinton Foundation as a backdoor to seek favors from a future President Clinton?
But the fallout to the e mail bombshell must once and for all place the lie to the “right-wing conspiracy” theory. The complete liberal cast of MSNBC, from Mika Brzezinksi on “Morning Joe” to Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell, have sounded aghast all week that Hillary is once again behaving as if she is above the rules that apply to ordinary humans.
I am not a Hillary hater. In reality, I would be overjoyed in 2016 to see the first face in the Oval Office that appears like the other half of the American population. And I believe Hillary Clinton has the intellect and the experience to be a great President.
She has earned the respect of leaders all more than the world. As a tireless diplomat, she did her very best to restore trust in the United States while George W. Bush’s unnecessary war and futile occupation of Iraq wound down.
But even those of us who might help her candidacy have to face a painful question: In at least a single significant way, is her character flawed?
Starting with her understanding of Bill Clinton’s stream of girlfriends from properly before they married, Hillary has cultivated the habit of not understanding what she doesn’t want to know — of actually compartmentalizing facts.
1 can trace the entire chain of events — starting from her dismissal of the New York Instances Whitewater queries, which led to the appointment of a specific prosecutor, which then led to the investigations of Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, and lastly to Bill Clinton’s impeachment — not only to Republican efforts to bring down the Clintons, but to Hillary’s initial and deepest instinct: to stonewall.
Her frustrated scandal manager through the Whitewater investigations, attorney Jane Sherburne, told me back then that the First Lady’s attitude toward concerns about her public part was, “What company is it of theirs?”
Quite a few sources who have worked inside Hillary’s bubble have told me how formidable and intimidating she can be. “When she says ‘Fix it!’ or ‘If there’s a challenge, fire ’em!’” she does not appreciate how she can make persons jump,” Sherburne told me. “Hillary lacks self-awareness of this trait and how it affects persons.”
These perpetual and deep-seated problems make it all the a lot more required that a prominent Democrat keep up the political stress on Hillary — at least to discipline her worst instincts, if not to serve as an understudy in the occasion her candidacy implodes.
I don’t imply Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. They’re decent enough politicians but without the need of the required chops. Joe Biden would be much more formidable, but he’s too closely yoked to the Obama years.
The only one who has the political argument and individual fire to make a powerful stand is Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
The liberal Democratic heroine was asked last week by the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation” no matter if Clinton would be a “progressive warrior.” Warren’s reply was cool as the snow blanketing her dwelling state.
“You know, I feel that is what we gotta see,” Warren responded. “I want to hear what she wants to run on and what she says she wants to do. That’s what campaigns are supposed to be about.”
Bill Clinton, I am told by a Warren insider, is the a single who sees Warren as a threat — a all-natural politician who excites the base in approaches that Hillary cannot seem to do.
Ex-Sen. Clinton herself was nervous sufficient to attempt inviting the common freshman Sen. Warren for a cozy chat at the Clintons’ Washington property last December. She tried to persuade the fiery populist to abandon her own national platform as a media darling who fights for operating households. Wouldn’t she favor to take the veil as one particular of Clinton’s 200-plus friendly insiders?
Not on her life.
“Elizabeth is a rock-thrower,” says a close advisor, who insists on being nameless as do all on Warren’s group. The senator even keeps a bowl of rocks on her desk. When an advisor offered to send a lot more rocks from a New Year’s gathering of mostly liberal political junkies, Warren responded, “Don’t bother, I have a lot.”
Warren, people today tell me, has small regard for Hillary. In 1998, the then-Harvard law professor met with the former Initial Lady and gained her agreement to help fight for working households against “that awful (bankruptcy) bill,” as Clinton called it.
But Bill Clinton was not ready to pick a fight with the banks. As a presidential candidate-in-waiting, Hillary has shown her conflicted stance, as a single who talks challenging on redressing the erosion of middle-class wages whilst she gladly accepts huge speaking charges to sweet-speak Wall Street titans.
Warren is nothing if not impassioned. As she admits in her memoir, “A Fighting Possibility,” she wasn’t born with a lot of talents. She wasn’t particularly pretty, didn’t have the highest grades, didn’t play a sport or sing. Her a single talent was she could fight: “not with my fists, but with my words.”
In her memoir she writes of the day she grew up, at age 12, when her daddy had a heart attack. Quickly immediately after, the family members lost their station wagon. Then they lost their property.
Her father’s job selling carpets for Montgomery Ward was taken from him, and when little Elizabeth asked her mother why, she was told his organization robbed him of some thing he had worked for all his life. But why? The kid wanted to know.
The answer came: “They feel he’s going to die.”
Her mother walked to Sears Roebuck to interview for her initial job. She was 50.
Protecting operating households who are struggling to discharge debts, locate relief from student loans and gather youngster assistance from debt-buried spouses is personal with Warren.
And it would produce a great contrast with Clinton who, when push comes to shove, appears to side with the effective, or reflexively defend her own interests.
Warren insists she won’t run. Clinton’s polling position — 56% of Democrats say they’d help her at this exceedingly early moment — leaves Warren 42 points behind.
So why not stage an unconventional, rogue major campaign that is suited to her message and character?
According to a Warren insider who also worked with the Clinton White Property, “Elizabeth couldn’t be happier with her function — she loves pushing Hillary on economic difficulties. She’ll get all of Hillary’s responses on the record and play this out to the final possible moment, till Hillary decides.”
Warren is wildly ambitious, this supply says, not for her private success, but to alter the direction of the nation. This just might be her moment.
Sheehy is author of “Daring: My Passages,” a memoir, and the biography “Hillary’s Selection.”