We can debate how pessimistic we should be about the outcome but everything he says here about 2016 strategy is sound, including and especially the GOP’s focus on what Beck terms “technicalities.” That’s the wrong word, as it diminishes the gravity of the Benghazi and IRS scandals — they’re both legitimate grievances, as Beck notes — but he’s right that they’ll be seen as “technicalities” by the media, and he’s also right that they’ll be no match for a Clinton “back to the future” campaign trumpeting 1990s prosperity. Hearing him talk about “technicalities” reminded me of the GOP obsession with Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment in late summer 2012. I’ve written about that before: A crack like that was bound to drive conservative ideologues like me nuts but most of the casual-voting public couldn’t have cared less. (Likewise, says Jay Cost, Hillary’s gaffe-filled book tour was great fun for the chattering class but will end up being completely ignored by low-information voters.) Somehow the GOP’s brain trust convinced itself to build its convention around the theme of “you did build that,” which must have been quite the head-scratcher for the great mass of more or less apolitical wage-earning swing-staters. Beck sees something like that happening again in 2016, this time with a patchwork of different complaints about the Clinton and Obama years in hopes that the whole of the NSA scandal and VA negligence and various foreign-policy disasters will be greater than the sum of its parts. Will it, when Bill Clinton is out there talking up his strategy for adding millions more jobs?
Hillary’s greatest strength as a would-be nominee isn’t her name recognition or her trailblazing appeal as the first woman president or her many, many, many Washington contacts. It’s the fact that, uniquely among Democrats, she can run on the record of a more successful Democratic president than Obama. No matter how bad things get for O over the next two years, Hillary has Bill’s economic record available to distance her from all of it. In fact, within limits, the worse things get for Obama, the better it is for Hillary since it’ll make the Clinton years look that much rosier by comparison. Beck himself acknowledges feeling pangs of Clinton nostalgia at times in frustration at Hopenchange; if that’s true for a righty like him, imagine how true it’ll be for centrists. All I’d add to what he says here is that Hillary lost to Obama in 2008 for more specific reasons, obviously, than that O was a “wild card.” Obama’s win was chiefly a reaction to Bush’s deep unpopularity, a lesson The One internalized so well that his team’s still apt to blame Dubya for its troubles to this day. Democrats wanted the cleanest possible break with Bush and a young newbie candidate with a trailblazing narrative even more dramatic than Hillary’s was cleaner — slightly — than bringing back the older, more centrist, business-as-usual Clintons. Even that could work to Hillary’s advantage in 2016, though: After eight dismal years of Obama’s amateurism, it’d be natural for the opposition party to nominate an experienced pol who’ll sell himself as someone who knows how to make Washington work. In reality, the GOP’s more likely to nominate an Obamaesque newbie like Rubio or Rand Paul, with Hillary filling the steady-hand-on-the-wheel “experience” niche. Republicans’ best, and maybe only, hope is that public disgust at D.C. is so deep that anyone like Hillary who’s spent many years there will be DOA electorally. How lucky do you feel?