Now that two of the last three Democratic presidencies have been emphatically judged to have been failures, the world’s oldest political party — the primary architect of this nation’s administrative state — has some thinking to do. The accumulating evidence that the Democratic Party is an exhausted volcano includes its fixation with stale ideas, such as the supreme importance of a 23rd increase in the minimum wage. Can this party be so blinkered by the modest success of the third recent presidency, Bill Clinton’s, that it will sleepwalk into the next election behind Hillary Clinton?
In 2016, she will have won just two elections in her 69 years, the last one 10 years previously. Ronald Reagan went 10 years from his second election to his presidential victory at age 69, but do Democrats want to wager their most precious possession, the presidential nomination, on the proposition that Clinton has political talents akin to Reagan’s?
In October, Clinton was campaigning, with characteristic futility, for Martha Coakley, the losing candidate for Massachusetts governor, when she said: “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” Watch her on YouTube. When saying this, she glances down, not at a text but at notes, and proceeds with the hesitancy of someone gathering her thoughts. She is not reading a speechwriter’s blunder. When she said those 13 words, she actually was thinking .
You may be wondering, to use eight other Clinton words that will reverberate for a long time: “What difference at this point does it make?” This difference: Although she says her 13 words “short-handed” her thinking, what weird thinking can they be shorthand for?
Yuval Levin, whose sharp thinking was honed at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, is editor of the National Affairs quarterly and author of two books on science and public policy and, most recently, of “The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left.” He is one of conservatism’s most sophisticated and measured explicators, so his biting assessment of Clinton is especially notable:
“She is smart, tough and savvy and has a capacity to learn from failure and adjust. But . . . people are bored of her and feel like she has been talking at them forever. . . . She is a dull, grating, inauthentic, over-eager, …read more