The establishment news organization Politico ran a frontpage article Monday headlined “What’s Wrong With Hillary?”
The hand-wringing article underscores the reality that Democrats are worried about their frontrunner, amid dropping voter turnout in the Democratic primaries, an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email use, and the continuing threat of socialist challenger Bernie Sanders.
Jeff Greenfield writes:
But there are other factors that make Hillary Clinton look more vulnerable than venerable, and that should give her party cause to pause. Consider the much-chewed-over finding that nearly six in 10 Americans do not consider Clinton honest and trustworthy. In last Wednesday’s debate, panelist Karen Tumulty cut through Clinton’s first explanation — it’s all that right-wing Fox News noise — to note that these doubts were held by the broader public, and by many in her own party…
A look at Clinton’s political career provides a tougher explanation. Those younger voters who doubt her trustworthiness likely have no memory, or even casual acquaintance with, a 25-year history that includes cattle-futures trading, law firm billing records, muddled sniper fire recollections and the countless other charges of widely varying credibility aimed at her. They may even have suspended judgment about whether her e-mail use was a matter of bad judgment or worse.
But when you look at the positions she has taken on some of the most significant public policy questions of her time, you cannot escape noticing one key pattern: She has always embraced the politically popular stand — indeed, she has gone out of her way to reinforce that stand — and she has shifted her ground in a way that perfectly correlates with the shifts in public opinion.
Greenfield is right to have doubts.
The “New Democrat” policies pioneered by her husband helped him to come off as a moderate in the 1990s, but those policies are now blights on Clinton’s record as far as modern progressives are concerned. Clinton doubled down on harsher sentencing for crack cocaine violators than powder coke users, failed to take on the issue of mass incarceration in the black population, added more cops on the street, and even signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Clinton’s appeals to left-wing social justice positions on the trail have been ill-received by progressives.
Clinton has hemmoraged white liberal support during her run, with Sanders the beneficiary. As I reported from New Hampshire the night Sanders won that state’s primary, the Vermont socialist stole all the cachet in the party. The cultural Left is basically done with Hillary Clinton as a popular commodity.
A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that 33 percent of Sanders supporters will NOT vote for Clinton in the general election. If those voters stay home, or if some of them cross the aisle to support Donald Trump due to issues like free trade and corporate financing of campaigns, then Clinton could be in serious trouble.
Team Clinton already fears Trump. “Any strategy we come up with today is going to have to be awfully flexible because we don’t know what to expect from this guy,” said David Brock, who runs pro-Clinton super PAC’s.