During the 2008 election, a local Democratic official got stuck for an answer during a Hardball interview when asked to name Barack Obama’s accomplishments. Seven years later, a roomful of Iowa Democrats gets stumped by Mark Halperin when asking the same question about Hillary Clinton and her years at the White House. One respondent, clearly embarrassed, laughs and asks Halperin, “You want to give me a minute?” She then adds, “Give me two minutes”:
The only substantive response comes from a young man who basically argues that at least she’s not Scott Walker. He argues that Democrats have no choice but to vote for her. “She’s not perfect,” he finally sighs, even though that wasn’t actually the question.
So what, some might ask; Obama won, didn’t he? Yes he did, but Obama was a candidate that was both aspirational and inspirational for voters, not just the only choice they had. When challenged on that point in 2008, voters — and not just Democrats — argued that the system needed a shake-up, a change from the establishment, and that accomplishment wasn’t really a key value in their decision.
This time, though, Hillary is the establishment, and she’s almost spookily unaccomplished at the same time. Even her defender notes that Hillary has been around an awfully long time, and he still can’t name any specific accomplishment. These Democrats will still vote for Hillary, if they vote at all, but don’t expect to see the kind of dynamic that produced outside-the-box turnouts and support for Obama in either 2008 or 2012. Hillary can’t provide that kind of excitement, not even with the “first woman” meme voiced at full volume.
By the way, Halperin was a bit unfair to these people. It’s a trick question; Hillary had no accomplishments at State, with the singular exception of enriching herself and her husband through the power of her office.