Hillary is returning to the national limelight at last...said no one

She’s like the dinner guest who stays and stays and never takes the hint that the party is over. NBC News reports that Hillary Clinton has decided to weigh in again to help push her party across the line in November:

Hillary Clinton is stepping back into the limelight before the November midterm elections, helping to raise money for the Democratic National Committee in a series of fundraisers, NBC News has learned.

The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee will headline three events — in San Francisco, Chicago and New York — for the DNC this fall to boost the party’s chances of seizing control of the U.S. House and Senate.

Billed as “intimate dinners with discussion,” the first invitations were set to go out Monday night for a September event in San Francisco.

Clinton, the former secretary of state whose stunning loss to Republican Donald Trump in 2016 led to widespread criticism of her campaign strategy and message, has maintained a fairly low profile over the past year and a half.

That last line made me laugh. Has Hillary maintained a low profile, NBC News? What about that book tour? What about all those media appearances and speeches at various events, all of them focused on the 2016 election? That was low profile?

In May, the Atlantic published a piece arguing that Hillary’s refusal to leave the national stage was hurting the party. “When it comes to the national political landscape, she has not yet reached the point where she can sound off in a way that doesn’t reek of self-pity and bitterness and rationalization,” the piece said. And that was months after Doug Schoen said Hillary should “step off the stage.” That was also around the same time that a Democratic fundraiser told the Hill (anonymously) that Hillary should “shut the f— up and go away.”

So the idea that she has kept a low profile doesn’t make much sense unless you’re living deep in a cave where her litany of election-loss-excuses hasn’t penetrated. But as always, some see the reaction to Clinton as a sign the right is terrified by her political prowess:

Clinton does not yet have specifics to provide about individual candidates she may campaign for, according to her spokesman, Nick Merrill. “There has never been a more important midterm election, and Secretary Clinton is going to do her part to lift up the next generation of leaders,” he said.

But she is well aware of Republican hopes to use her as a campaign foil, Merrill said: “You pay attention to those you’re threatened by. If they didn’t think she was still a force in the party, then they wouldn’t continue to treat her like the president.”

That last line is almost tragic. It’s like Hillary is playing the role of Norma Desmond in her own endless version of Sunset Blvd. I don’t think anyone on the right considers her a threat, much less is treating her like the president. On the contrary, the most reliable fact of Hillary’s political life is that her approval ratings go up when she slides to the back of the stage and go down when she comes forward to bask in the limelight. Back in April, an NBC/WSJ poll found that Hillary’s approval rating had hit a new low. She had gone from 10 points underwater before the election to 25 points underwater 18 months later. Again, what accounts for that post-election decline wasn’t her absence but her constant presence. That her official spokesman’s first take is that people are treating her like “the president” is just beyond sad at this point.

Will these intimate dinners with Hillary be just another chance to rehash her disappointment over 2016? Time will tell, but I suspect the answer is yes. What else does she have to talk about at this point? Losing is her legacy.