And people say Hillary Clinton can’t be trusted. Of course she can — trusted to make the most cynical political calculations necessary to preserve her opportunities for power. Daniel Halper finds this nugget from NPR’s interview with Anne-Marie Slaughter on Tuesday, when the reporter challenged the former State Department policy chief to name any achievements at all from Hillary’s time at State. Slaughter actually can’t do it, but claims that the TPP treaty and the Iran deal are both largely due to Hillary’s work from at least three years ago:
I mean the first place there are, you know, she laid the groundwork for a lot of what now, frankly, John Kerry is harvesting. I mean without Hillary Clinton putting together this, the coalition to impose sanctions on Iran, you wouldn’t have an Iran deal. So she did that work and it was incredibly hard work. She also was one of the architects of you know, the turn to Asia. And just yesterday, people may not like the trade agreement with Asia, but her point was we have to focus on re-strengthening our alliances with Japan, with the Philippians, with Thailand, with Southeast Asian countries. And we have to engage China, but we also have to tough with China and that was a lot of Hillary Clinton’s work.
Twenty-four hours later, Hillary distanced herself from even this indirect claim of accomplishment by opposing the TPP:
I’m continuing to learn about the details of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, including looking hard at what’s in there to crack down on currency manipulation, which kills American jobs, and to make sure we’re not putting the interests of drug companies ahead of patients and consumers. But based on what I know so far, I can’t support this agreement.
Halper describes Slaughter as a Team Hillary surrogate, but she’s running a non-partisan think tank at the moment. Even so, this highlights the cynical flip-flop that Hillary has conducted on TPP, seeing as how Hillary herself has talked up the agreement on literally dozens of occasions, including in the memoir Hard Choices, which she sent to all of the Republican presidential candidates in answer to the “achievement” challenge:
“One of the most important tools for engaging with Vietnam was a proposed new trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would link markets throughout Asia and the Americas, lowering trade barriers while raising standards on labor, the environment and intellectual property,” she wrote. “As President Obama explained, the goal of the TPP negotiations is to establish a ‘high standard, enforceable, meaningful trade agreement’ that ‘is going to be incredibly powerful for American companies who, up until this point, have often been locked out of those markets.’ It was also important for American workers, who would benefit from competing on a more level playing field. And it was a strategic initiative that would strengthen the position of the United States in Asia.”
Small wonder voters don’t trust Hillary, even apart from the e-mail scandal. In this cycle, I argue in my column today for The Fiscal Times, authenticity is the coin of the realm — and Hillary is indeed “flat broke” on that measure:
Forget experience, policies, and ideology in the 2016 presidential primary fights, in both parties. Voters have less concern over those traditional priorities for candidates in exchange for another quality altogether – authenticity. While pundits bemoan the rise of political novices and demagogues who have enough of that currency to prosper, that shift comes from a rational reaction to American politics over the last generation, and both Democrats and Republicans alike share the blame for the shift. …
This past week, though, Clinton got a gift from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who told Sean Hannity that the Benghazi Select Committee had purposefully damaged her presidential hopes. The Clinton campaign latched onto this as though it were the smoking gun in an Agatha Christie novel, and launched its first national TV spot trying to argue once again for her authentic victimhood. “The Republicans finally admit it,” the narrator dramatically intones to argue that all of the woes that beset Clinton are merely partisan attacks from another vast right-wing conspiracy.
That doesn’t square, however, with an active FBI investigation and the discovery of secret e-mail systems. Even while going on the attack over McCarthy’s remarks, Clinton still insists that she has done no wrong – and that investigating those activities go “beyond the pale.” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie couldn’t quite swallow that, asking her in reply, “Do you get how bad this looks?” Clinton responded by claiming to have “gone further [in transparency] than anybody that I’m aware of in American history.”
That won’t sell voters on Clinton’s authenticity. It demonstrates that even if the McCarthy remarks could make a winning argument, Hillary Clinton herself undermines it with ridiculous aggrandizement and imperious attitudes.
The Washington Post’s James Hohmann also notes Hillary’s authenticity deficiency, and talked with former Hillary speechwriter Lissa Muscatine. Now a bookstore owner, Muscatine suggests more unscripted moments:
Musctaine said she’d like to see Clinton engage in more casual Q&A-style conversations. She praised her appearance on “Saturday Night Live” and was surprised to see her sing in public, something that once would have been “unthinkable.” She was also happy when Clinton answered a question, without hesitating, that her favorite drink is a vodka martini.
“President Obama is obviously one of the most gifted orators … He’s amazing, but he’s best scripted, frankly. He speaks so well off a teleprompter that you don’t even know he’s using a teleprompter,” said Muscatine. “Hillary, by contrast, is much better extemporaneously.She sounds scripted when she’s reading from a text and when she goes off text she sounds much more natural.”
“It’s helping to make fun of herself,” the longtime aide, who remains in her orbit, added. “It’s there; it’s just been shuttered in because every time she opens her mouth she gets attacked by somebody. She’s a human being, but you have to find ways for that to come out and for her to feel comfortable with that.”
That’s been tried, too, and hasn’t worked. Remember “wiped with a cloth,” and joking about Instagram’s deletion policies? “Beyond the pale” was another look at Authentic Hillary. Those flashes of authenticity are a large part of the overall problem — she sees herself as a persecuted victim, disdains oversight, and feels entitled to power.
That won’t sell in 2016, even if Democrats end up with no other choice but to nominate her. That’s why they’re beginning to panic, and look to Joe Biden as their white knight. If nothing else, Biden comes across as authentic.