She is so, so bad. So bad.
Read Friday’s post for a quick-and-dirty summary of her immigration “evolution” over the years, which wasn’t an evolution at all and certainly didn’t take years. It happened so quickly and dramatically after she was appointed to the Senate, from Trump-style border hawk to pitiful liberal bleeding heart in the blink of an eye, that Fox News’s Kennedy wondered on air today whether that sort of sudden ideological lunge amounts to mental illness. It does have a whiff of sociopathy to it inasmuch as sociopaths are ruthlessly directed towards their own self-interest. What was in Kirsten Gillibrand’s electoral self-interest on the subject of immigration when she was representing a conservative-ish House district in upstate New York? And what was in Kirsten Gillibrand’s electoral self-interest on immigration the moment she was suddenly accountable to a very liberal statewide electorate in New York?
Coincidentally, the answer to those two questions precisely tracks the positions she actually took, all considerations of feasibility and morality of the policies she held notwithstanding. You could understand a hardline politician from either side moderating their views over time as their preconceptions about a particular policy were countered by facts. But Gillibrand never moderated. She went from solidly right to solidly left at the moment it benefited her to do so. She was such a stalwart on immigration enforcement that it’s possible she would have been the first Democrat to side with Trump in the current standoff over the border wall if she were still in the House. As it is, she’s a progressive running for the Democratic nomination for president, and thus Trump’s immigration policies are “racist.” When Tapper asks her here how she underwent such a remarkable change of heart so suddenly, the best lie she can tell to explain it is, “I did not think about suffering in other people’s lives.” She was 41 when she became a member of the House, an Ivy League grad, someone who majored in Asian Studies in college and had studied in China, and who had worked on Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign in 2000. She was, in other words, a well-educated person who had had plenty of reason to wrestle with immigration policy in the years before she joined Congress, including her own personal experience abroad.
And yet, to avoid admitting her electoral calculus, she would have you seriously believe that she never fully confronted the disruptive consequences of deportation and other enforcement policies until she met with amnesty advocates — after becoming a senator, of course. Vote after vote in the House, supporting fencing, English as the official language, more Border Patrol agents, on and on, for two years allegedly without ever wrestling with what this policy looked like on the ground. This is the thing about Gillibrand: All politicians lie, all politicians pander expediently, but she does so in ways so transparent that they insult one’s intelligence. You can’t help but dislike her.
The only saving grace to all this is that her pandering phoniness is so obvious and contemptible that it’s bound to lead to total destruction in the primary she’s so desperate to win. Voters will forgive a lot of pandering in a politician; everyone likes being told what they wanted to hear. But for the left, nominating Gillibrand would be dangerous in a way that nominating virtually anyone else in the field wouldn’t be. Any other Democrat they might conceivably choose will be a solid liberal in office, if perhaps not a Bernie-style socialist. Because Gillibrand effectively has no principles, though, she’s easily the most likely potential nominee to triangulate Clinton-style as president. Turning her back into a centrist Democrat with newfound appreciation for border security would be a straightforward matter of convincing her that targeting Republican voters would help her get re-elected in 2024. Why would the left want to roll the dice on that when they have 800 other candidates to choose from?
At least she still thinks that illegals shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Although give her a few months. If some top-tier candidate decides that that insanity should also be on the table in America 2019 she’ll recalibrate accordingly.