This week, New York Post columnist Maureen Callahan asks the question which I hear many liberals whispering, but rarely saying too loudly: Why can’t the Clintons just go away? That probably sounds rather mean on the face of it. Okay… let’s be honest here. It is pretty mean. But it’s also a question which the Democratic Party should finally get around to addressing if most of them have made it through the five stages of grieving between November and now. The problem is that they’re going to have a hard time breaking up with their long time dance partners when they refuse to get their toothbrush out of the bathroom and take it home with them.
As Callahan points out early in her piece, Hillary sees no reason to leave because she still sees herself as the life of the party. (That works on multiple levels.)
Clearly, Hillary still sees herself as the leader of the Democratic Party. And why shouldn’t she? Democrats have been locked in an abusive relationship with the Clintons for decades, enabling, explaining, convincing themselves that next time will be different. Party faithful hew to Hillary’s excuses for losing to Donald Trump: It’s James Comey’s fault, plus the Russians, white supremacists, misogynists, the deplorables and immobilized millennials, among other things.
Her losses in 2008 and 2016 have been framed as things that happened to Hillary — not one, but two Black Swan events that stymied her historic destiny.
It’s not just Hillary Clinton, either. Her husband seems content to stay on the sidelines and deal with his foundation for the most part, but as soon as another campaign rolls around for his wife he’s back out on the trail and saying all sorts of… interesting things which frequently seem more likely to torpedo her than advance her candidacy. And would he be following that same pattern if Hillary wasn’t the only woman in the family looking at a run for elected office?
Yes, that brings us to Chelsea. As we’ve noted here in the past with emotions ranging from humor to annoyance, the press and the Democratic Party can’t seem to help themselves or restrain their natural impulse to fluff the former First Daughter up and suggest that she’s the heir apparent. And like a moth drawn to the flame, Chelsea seems all too willing to allow everyone to continue to court her, despite the fact that has absolutely zero experience or accomplishments of note to point to as a reason to support her. And her strange social media cheerleading is perplexing at best.
“This is not the time to be silent or stay on the sidelines,” Chelsea said. In true Clintonian mixed-messaging, she’s ruling out a run for office while continuing to raise her profile, offering policy-free platitudes to heartbroken Dems. “Talk about what’s really at risk in this moment,” she said. “Raise your voice and help others raise their voices.”
It’s a version of her mother’s intransigence, the refusal to admit voters have rejected this brand twice and to act with resultant humility. According to “Shattered,” Hillary’s repeated refusal to apologize for anything — most notably the use of her private server while secretary of state — was one of her most frustrating faults. Her closest aides kept pushing early on for a sincere apology to the American people, but Hillary remained defiant.
As a somewhat different conclusion than the one reached by Ms. Callahan, I would suggest that the problem here isn’t the Clintons. Who doesn’t like being complimented and adored? As long as people are willing to keep beating a path to their door there’s no reason for them not to keep answering it. Perhaps the actual root cause of this malady and the reason that the Clintons “won’t just go away” is that their party doesn’t have any other charismatic, successful beacon to draw them away. Barack Obama served that purpose admirably ever since he beat her in their first contest, but who else is there? The media loves Elizabeth Warren but she’s not exactly dynamite on the stump. Who else? The socialist who denies being a Democrat at all and will be pushing 80 by the next election?
They need to find a new flame to attract all the moths. If they don’t, the Clintons will keep hanging around like your unemployed younger brother who won’t move out of the basement. And the media will keep flocking to them until you give them a shinier toy to play with.