Yes, she did — she just couldn’t tell voters the real reason.
Democrats may not want to hear Joe Biden’s half-hearted dig at Hillary Clinton, but perhaps they should pay attention to the rest of the outgoing veep’s analysis at the Los Angeles Times. News agencies have seized on Biden’s succinct explanation of Hillary’s flop in the 2016 election, and it is a typical Bidenism. He takes a pretty good insight and folds it into a laughable premise in his interview with Mike Memoli:
In the interview, Biden pointed to questions that came even from members of Clinton’s inner circle, revealed in emails made public by WikiLeaks, about whether the Democratic front-runner had figured out why she was running.
“I don’t think she ever really figured it out,” Biden said. “And by the way, I think it was really hard for her to decide to run.”
Come on, man. She’s been deciding to run since 1999. Hillary ran for the Senate seat in New York in 2000, despite never having lived there prior to then, because it was the safest path to the kind of national office she needed to launch a presidential campaign. The Clintons started their family foundation to leverage their connections to power to boost Hillary’s profile even further, and barely took a breath after the 2006 election to start her path to the Democratic coronation in 2008. Unfortunately, she turned out to be a terrible candidate and blew the primaries to a one-term Senate backbencher named Barack Obama.
How conflicted was Hillary at that point about her presidential ambitions? She took the job as Secretary of State while using the Clinton Foundation as a slush fund and power base, leaving in 2013 to write a second memoir as a campaign launch pad. She and Bill tied up nearly all of the Democratic donor base by 2014, blocking anyone else from launching a serious, traditional primary campaign. She had the DNC doing surreptitious blocking and tackling to keep from getting beaten by yet another Senate backbencher in 2016, this time a Socialist crank who’s older than she is.
Hillary was hardly conflicted about deciding to run, and Biden’s basically trying to excuse her from his other, more pertinent criticism. She didn’t figure out how to articulate a reason for her campaign other than identity politics, which itself was a thin cover for her years-long, obsessive personal ambition. The only reason that Hillary offered in both 2008 and 2016 to be president was because she wanted it for herself and Bill. It was all about the Clintons, and not about anyone else. But since “You owe me the presidency” makes for a lousy campaign message when offered explicitly, Hillary had to use nonsensical slogans like “I’m With Her” and “Stronger Together.”
Even Democrats will dismiss Biden’s hard-decision claim as nonsensical, but they should take what Biden says about the party and its direction to heart. Biden first realized that Donald Trump could win in October, after watching a rally near his hometown in Pennsylvania. He recognized the people at the event, and realized that Hillary’s attacks on Trump supporters was likely backfiring:
And so as he sat in his office one day in October and watched footage of a Donald Trump rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., not far from his childhood home, Biden sensed trouble.
“Son of a gun. We may lose this election,” Biden said, recalling his reaction during an interview in his West Wing office.
“They’re all the people I grew up with. They’re their kids. And they’re not racist. They’re not sexist. But we didn’t talk to them.”
Biden warns his fellow Democrats about doubling down on Bernie Sanders’ progressivism as their path out of the wilderness. “I don’t think 500 billionaires caused all our problems,” he tells Memoli. Following up on a speech Biden gave right after the election, he warned that the party left behind their former constituents of hard-working Americans who aren’t interested in ideological purity — and Trump was there to pick up enough of them to matter:
“I was trying to be as tactful as I could in making it clear that I thought we constantly made a mistake of not speaking to the fears, aspirations, concerns of middle class people,” he said.
In the campaign, “you didn’t hear a word about that husband and wife working, making 100,000 bucks a year, two kids, struggling and scared to death. They used to be our constituency.”
As Salena Zito writes at the New York Post, Democrats aren’t listening to Biden yet. Instead, their post-election hysterics are pushing more people away. Zito talked with passengers on an Amtrak train that winds out of Washington DC to a number of Midwestern destinations, and they’re getting even more disgusted by the blame-throwing:
“On Nov. 8 I went from a responsible, hard-working, upstanding citizen to an uninformed bigot who gleefully supports Russian interference in our elections and the destruction of our republic,” Robert said. “At least that’s what I have read in the newspaper or seen on television, so it must be true, right?”
Edward smiled, paused, and then said, “It is refreshing to hear your candor, it’s gotten to the point where you are afraid to not only express your opinion, but to stand by your opinion. Yes, I supported him and yes, I would do it again.”
“They’ve thrown everything at everyone who voted for Trump to deteriorate or place doubt in his supporters’ minds,” said Audrey.
“It astounds me that the press still doesn’t get it, that my party (Democrats) are blaming everyone but themselves for a poor message, poor messenger and the responsibility she bears for placing her email security in jeopardy . . . it’s not Comey’s fault. It’s hers,” said Elizabeth who was sitting in the booth across the aisle.
Elizabeth voted for Clinton, but wasn’t sure she’d do so again. “The way everyone is acting now post-election shows that no one, no one, has learned anything. She is just proving she deserved to lose,” she said.
Biden has certainly had his share of public stumbles and a far bigger portion of incidents where his foot ended up in his mouth. He’s fortunate to be where he is now because of that. However, Republicans often miss how good Biden was at connecting with the same constituencies that Trump ended up winning in this election … and apparently Democrats have forgotten that, too. Biden will probably end up as a Cassandra of sorts, offering all the right lessons wrapped up in silly bromides and ludicrous excuses, and his party will blithely fall right off the precipice while assuming he’s only a buffoon. Even if Democrats dismiss Biden, Republicans should not make that same mistake.