I cannot stop emphasizing: Hillary Clinton’s only electoral victories were in one of the most Democratic states in the country and against nobodies. She defeated an incompetent Republican backbencher, Rick Lazio, in 2000. In 2006, the New York State Republican Party sent John Spencer, mayor of Yonkers, to be its sacrificial lamb. Clinton spent $36 million defeating Spencer in an election with a 23 percent voter turnout. Spencer had raised just over $5 million, and was given to describing people as having a “Chinaman’s chance.” Not exactly a model for defeating the GOP this time — unless Donald Trump is her opponent, he suddenly goes dead broke, and his name recognition drops by roughly 97 percent. (The “Chinaman’s chance” thing, I can imagine him saying.)
Clinton was beat when Barack Obama slyly made ethics and conviction the themes of his campaign. Sanders foreswore the possibility of talking about her email server, and he seems not at all interested in contrasting his constancy of conviction with her history of expedient changes of heart.
And even in that debate, one can imagine the attack lines.
Clinton asked the audience to consider what she’s “accomplished in the Senate, as secretary of of state, and then draw your own conclusion.” A Republican might actually point out that when she asks us to fill in the blanks, it’s because that record is mostly blank. Or bad. In the debate she referred to the U.S. intervention in Libya as “smart power at its best.” Surely Jeb Bush could point out that Libya is now plagued by the Islamic State, and anarchy reigns there to such a degree that it is now one of the major veins through which a refugee crisis flows into Europe. Clinton called for “a new New Deal for communities of color,” which sounds almost exactly like the kind of phrase you might use in the 1950s. Rubio, who says that he is the candidate of tomorrow, will not let her get away with hawking 80-year old policy ideas.