Reines said his biggest fear for the Democratic Party is that they realize, only in hindsight, that dismissing Clinton for the errors she made in 2016 was a mistake.
“Chalking the loss up to her being a failed candidate is an oversimplification,” Reines said. “She is smarter than most, tougher than most, she could raise money easier than most, and it was an absolute fight to the death.”
Does Reines plugging Clinton as a viable 2020 candidate mean that she’s running?
“It’s somewhere between highly unlikely and zero,” he said, “but it’s not zero.”
Even a fanatic Clinton apologist like Reines can’t really believe that. For cripes sake:
She couldn’t get through 2016 without a scare from a doddering old pinko like Bernie Sanders even though the party cleared the field for her otherwise and crowned her as presumptive nominee before the primaries began. She ran an uninspiring “it’s my turn” campaign then somehow lost in a momentous upset to a guy who was supposed to be unelectable. Everything she had going for her two years ago is gone now: Her aura of invincibility is shattered, her competition in 2020 would be stiff, her centrism is out of vogue in her party and not seen as a selling point in the general election, and her mystique as the only woman who might plausibly win the presidency has faded amid formidable candidacies by Warren, Harris, and Gillibrand. Even her better half is now a significant liability in the age of #MeToo. The only reason to support Hillary 2.0 is if you still agree with her core pitch from 1.0: It’s “her turn.” She’s “supposed to be” the first woman president. Reines, being part of her Praetorian guard, might still believe that. No one else does.
And really, it’s not even true that there’s a “Hillary 2.0.” There’s 1.0 and only 1.0, forever:
I could imagine a lot of different ways that the nominee who lost a winnable election to Donald Trump could have shown that experienced had changed her perspective on American politics. That's not what we've seen.
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) October 19, 2018
It’s unbelievable. She doubled down on her most infamous line of the campaign, her “deplorables” remark, back in March. Then, last week, given an opportunity to do some soul-searching on Bill and his scandals, she doubled down on that too. Even a Democratic voter who likes her and wants to give her every benefit of the doubt would have to look at those remarks and wrestle with the hard fact once again that her political instincts are terrible. Hand her the ball again in 2020 and she’ll fumble it away. She can’t help it.
Even her political meta-instincts, in terms of what she should be doing with her time to rebuild her popularity, are bad:
No one is arguing that Hillary should have taken up knitting—but she could be a whole lot more popular if she took a break from politics and worked on women’s empowerment abroad. This is partly what she did as Secretary of State and her numbers were sky high.
— Patrick Ruffini (@PatrickRuffini) October 19, 2018
The fact that she didn’t take advice as obvious as Douthat’s is proof enough that she’s not running again and has decided to say what she feels going forward. Or, I suppose, she might have concluded that we’ve reached the point in America’s endless Hillary saga where any real contrition will be dismissed by voters as cynical “repositioning” by a slippery politician and so any sincere apologies would be dismissed anyway. If she’s not sorry to the deplorables and saying sorry would get her little by way of political benefit, why say it? “Because it’s the right thing to do”? Meh. Where’s the apology to her for not recognizing that it was her turn?
Even Reines doesn’t really believe she might run again, I’m sure. Her consolation prize for fumbling the ball on the one-yard line in 2016 is that she’ll forever be known as the first major-party woman nominee in American history. She’s still a trailblazer, albeit in defeat, and she’ll always claim an asterisk on her loss due to Comey’s eleventh-hour letter about Emailgate. That’s her legacy — unless she runs again in 2020 and gets stomped in the primary, which is what would happen. Reines is keeping the flame burning not because he thinks she will or should run but because it never hurts to hold this door open when your boss is eager to remain a political player and there’s really no other reason that would justify her being one. The Clintons as a political unit are now well past their expiration date. The only thing keeping them on the shelf is the outside outside chance that Hillary’s not done yet. But c’mon. She’s done.