She has won the debates. She has the most money. She has enormous institutional support. She has sewn up important voter blocs (especially unmarried women). She has been a brilliant tactician, outmaneuvering both her Democratic and Republican opponents at every turn.
I think this is causing a great depression in the minds of many Americans. On both sides of the aisle:
- Hillary Clinton represents incremental change.
- Hillary Clinton means we have to fight all the battles of the 1990s on into the indefinite future.
- Hillary Clinton can have a hectoring tone that’s like rubbing a balloon.
As I’ve said many times before, Hillary Clinton is Nixon all over
again. A liberal Nixon, a positive Nixon, a sunnier Nixon, a female Nixon, but Nixon
nonetheless. She has even more history than Nixon did when he ran in
1968 — at least three decades’ worth. She has Nixon’s reputation as an
infighter, Nixon’s reputation for ruthlessness. Her friends are loyal
as Nixon’s friends were, her enemies relentless as Nixon’s enemies were.
For Democrats, it gets worse. In his domestic policy Nixon mainly
leaned against the still-dominant liberal Thesis of his time. It was
Nixon who passed the Clean Air Act, Nixon who launched the EPA. It was
Nixon who gave us OSHA and the CPSC. It was Nixon who nominated Harry
Blackmun, author of Roe vs. Wade, to the Supreme Court.
If Hilary Clinton is true to that part of the Nixon Legacy, liberals will find
her the apotheosis of conservatism. President Clinton will see Roe vs.
Wade overturned and dismantled. President Clinton will see a
supremely-harsh immigration bill passed. President Clinton will cut
domestic spending to the bone, and will give amnesty to all the
criminals of this decade. This will not help her with conservatives,
who will continue to hate her, even as she gives them their most
If President Hillary Clinton is true to the Nixon Legacy, she will deploy Vice
President Obama as an attack dog against conservatives and their
movement. He will hire writers who will eviscerate that movement in
rhetoric, who will hang Iraq and their victory rhetoric on them as
liberals got Vietnam and End the War rhetoric hung on them a generation
ago. He will damn all the elements of the wingnut welfare machine, from
the think tanks to the media, and he will destroy his own future
electability in the process by becoming a lightning rod for
But if President Clinton is true to the Nixon legacy, we will get a new
foreign policy. We will use fewer sticks and more carrots. We will be
out of Iraq ASAP, we will be put back in the good graces of the UN and
all other international treaties, and we will have an effort made
toward peace-making the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the
Harding Administration. Chelsea will be First Lady, Bill will be
Ambassador to the World.
Of course, by now you’re wondering if President Hillary Clinton will
also be true to Nixon’s Watergate legacy. I have no doubt conservatives
will do everything in their power to make it so, from her first day in
office. There will be no honeymoon for President Clinton, no breathing
space. Vince Foster will become her Alger Hiss, and if she can be
persuaded to do it, Monica Lewinsky will become a conservative TV star.
Conservatives have reason to be depressed at this prospect. They will
be fighting over ground they thought they had won. They will be on a
constant rhetorical retreat, as the Confederacy was in 1864. Their
party risks utter destruction, because Republicans will have to decide
whether to deny her or try to lean into her wind, and create a new
AntiThesis based on new views, as British Conservatives have.
But liberals may be more depressed. We’re going to lose a lot of ground
where the majority is with us. The real issues of our time, like The
War Against Oil, will not be adequately addressed. We’re going to be
fighting in the past tense a lot, defending her personal integrity a
lot, and biting our tongues a lot, knowing that only through her
success can we hope to have the lasting policy changes needed by the
As we enter the fall of the year, a year before the 2008 election, the
Clinton Depression has already begun. It’s not a new beginning. It’s a
new middle. It’s a collection of re-runs for a decade of falls to come.
And there seems nothing out there right now to prevent it.