Hillary at meeting with economists: We need to "topple" the wealthiest one percent

The first thing I thought of while reading this was Romney trying to impress CPAC a few years ago by calling himself “severely” conservative. Coming from a committed populist ideologue like Elizabeth Warren, this might sound ominous. Coming from Hillary, it reeks of someone trying way, way too hard to sound like they’re part of the tribe.

In her 2008 campaign, Mrs. Clinton touted the prosperity of the 1990s. Today, the trade deals, Wall Street deregulation, and deficit reduction Mr. Clinton oversaw are often blamed as contributing to the current divide between a tiny sliver of the wealthiest and the vast majority of Americans…

In a meeting with economists this year, Mrs. Clinton intensely studied a chart that showed income inequality in the United States. The graph charted how real wages, adjusted for inflation, had increased exponentially for the wealthiest Americans, making the bar so steep it hardly fit on the chart.

Mrs. Clinton pointed at the top category and said the economy required a “toppling” of the wealthiest 1 percent, according to several people who were briefed on Mrs. Clinton’s policy discussions but could not discuss private conversations for attribution.

It takes a net worth of around $8 million to join “the one percent.” The Clintons’ net worth is estimated at $55 million; Hillary alone got a cool $14 mil as an advance for her dismal memoir “Hard Choices.” The electorate’s usually willing to let populists slide on their personal wealth — FDR is the ultimate example but John Edwards was a lefty heartthrob for a time as recently as 2008 — but I wonder if they’ll be so forgiving for Hillary. It’s not just the tone-deaf comments about being “dead broke” after Bill’s second term ended. It’s a mix of her famous chumminess with Wall Street, the stench of oligarchy that surrounds her dynastic campaign, and the obvious opportunism involved in her seizing Warren’s core platform to try to dissuade Warren from a primary challenge. It’s just impossible to take her seriously about this anymore. That’s one of the ironies of the campaign, that the “same old Hillary” really isn’t the same anymore in terms of how she’s politically positioned.

And believe it or not, youngsters, once upon a time righties did take Hillary Clinton kinda sorta seriously as a class warrior (a fact her campaign is now desperate to remind lefties of, as proof that she’s an authentic populist after all). I myself noted more than once during the 2008 campaign how easily startling comments about collectivism and redistribution sometimes seemed to slip from her mouth. Remember when she grumbled about oil companies’ profits being at an all-time high and recommended taking them for an energy fund? Remember the “‘we’re all in it together’ society,” a bit of Warrenism several years before Warren became the rage? Remember “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good”? Calling for “toppling” the one percent is of a piece with that, a little flourish for effect from someone who knows how deeply compromised she is on this subject. If a wave of liberal populism handed Congress back to the Democrats and the White House to Hillary, it’d be worth worrying about how far she’d go to accommodate the true class warriors in her party. As it is, with the House sure to be safely Republican throughout her first term, it’s a cheesy pander aimed at keeping progressives complacent during the primaries.

Wouldn’t surprise me, in fact, if the “topple” comment was leaked by her own campaign. I wonder which one of her staffers scripted it.