The Age of Hillary

By Buckley, Christopher | The Spectator, May 21, 2016 | Go to article overview

The Age of Hillary


Buckley, Christopher, The Spectator


What to expect if - when - a second Clinton finally hacks her way to the top

Predicting what might happen in a Donald Trump presidency is easy. Day 1: A fabulous, really great inaugural, the best ever, with amazing entertainment by fabulous, top people. Day 2: War with Iran. Day 3: War with North Korea. Day 4: Mexico builds a wall to keep out Americans.

But let's not go there. (Please.) Let us instead conjure what four years of a Hillary Clinton administration might bring. After all, she is, despite the media-led panic about Trump's improving polls, still strong favourite to become the 45th President of the United States. So what would Hillary's America look like?

Well, we could start with some predictions about the legislative fate of, say, the carried-interest loophole, student-loan relief, the Volcker Rule imposing 'risk fees' on banks and a realistic yet audacious guess as to whether she'll sign the Commodity Futures Modernisation Act. But then you would stop reading this and turn to Taki's column. So let's not.

The difficulty with limning a template of a Hillary Clinton administration is that her existing template is unlimnable. That is, fuzzy. It's not so much a template as a palimpsest. Mrs Clinton's policy positions are rarely fixed points. They have a tendency to get up and wander about, whether it's the Iraq war vote, or the trade deal she was so in favour of until she wasn't, or the minimum wage of $12 or $15 an hour, or the Benghazi attack being the fault of that asshole in California streaming that totally inappropriate Islamophobic video, or the private emails with the nuclear launch codes and George Clooney's recipe for penne arrabiata. If Mrs Clinton had an escutcheon, its motto would be 'Whatever' (Quisquis ? You Brits all know Latin, right?) The catalogue of Clinton policy books has more positions than the Kamasutra . As Groucho Marx said, 'I've got principles. And if you don't like them, I've got others.'

This morphing and shapeshifting has allowed her to survive over the years. The catch is that, while getting away with stuff may sustain you in power, it won't endear you to the general public. Mrs C has been front and centre on the national stage now for nearly a quarter-century. Result: 60 per cent of Americans find her 'untrustworthy' and 'dishonest'. A triumph. But she is hardly unique. Richard Nixon, aka 'Tricky Dick', was on the national stage for 20 years before he made it all the way. And that turned out fine.

In the early 1990s, an era that may come to be called 'Clinton 1', Hillary and Bill were on the White House ramparts hurling rocks and pouring hot tar on reporters and investigators assailing them with pitchforks and torches about the Whitewater controversy over their property dealings. (Or was it the mysterious suicide of Vince Foster? The White House Travel Office scandal? Quisquis. Point is: blamelessness has been the one Clintonian constant.)

Their defiant -- indeed, adamantine -- lawyerly denials and refusals to cooperate in any way with the investigation prompted a friend of theirs to remark (anonymously): 'They're being so big-firm about this.' I'm not a lawyer, so I stared at the phrase. Yes, of course: a reference to the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, where Mrs Clinton had been a partner while her husband was servicing -- serving -- the people of Arkansas.

Big-firm Mrs Clinton has remained ever since. Majestically. She's a practising Methodist. One wonders: does she believe in original sin? If Adam and Eve had kept the Rose Law Firm on retainer, what a different cosmos we would inhabit.

This much one might confidently predict: whatever fresh hell befalls during her four years in office, it's unlikely we will hear from the presidential lips any variation on the standard presidential mea culpa, 'Mistakes were made.' (Note the passive voice.) The Clinton solar system is a solipsism. Clintons do not make mistakes. People who work for the Clintons make mistakes. …

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