Hillary Clinton, we have been told, is a political genius of the first order. The conventional wisdom inside the Beltway holds that the GOP will find it difficult to force a halt to Clinton’s unstoppable, decades-long march into the White House. That conventional wisdom has been repeatedly dinged over the course of 2015 as scandal after scandal involving Clinton’s behavior as secretary of state bubbled up to the surface, none of which were satisfactorily addressed. Now, not only has Clinton’s ethics been called into question, but her political acumen is appearing increasingly shoddy. The Madame Curie of presidential politics has most recently demonstrated her alleged shrewdness by hiring a failed MSNBC host to serve as her campaign’s primary spokesperson.
“Hillary Clinton is set to announce her run for president potentially this week, and the second time around will be almost the polar opposite of 2008, CNN reported Monday,” a report in The Wrap began. “The former Secretary of State has hired veteran Democratic communications expert and former MSNBC host Karen Finney as Strategic Communications Adviser and Senior Spokesperson, according to CNN. Finney’s ties to the Clintons run back to the 1990s, when she served as Deputy Press Secretary to Hillary when she was First Lady.”
Finney also served as Traveling Press Secretary during Clinton’s successful 2000 Senate run and was the Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee from 2005-2009—four very good years for the Democratic Party.
Finney’s hire along with the hiring of Oren Shur as Director of Paid Media comes with additional reporting about what Hillary 2.0 will look like: a candidate much more focused on listening to voter concerns than the “I’m in to win” Clinton of 2008.
Gag. By “voter concerns,” The Wrap means the nagging regrets of those on the left who have nowhere else to turn in 2016 but toward the always inevitable yet rarely victorious Hillary Clinton. As for the Clinton camp’s decision to hire Finney, a former Democratic National Committee spokeswoman and an MSNBC contributor who briefly hosted her own weekend program, the former secretary of state is courting controversy. At least, she would be if she were a Republican.
“We saw in droves the Latino community moving over to the Democratic Party largely because of the tone,” Finney said in January of 2013. This setup was positively hilarious considering that, in her next breath, she proceeded to take the “tone” down a notch herself. “Those crazy crackers on the right, if they start with their very hateful language, that is going to kill them in the same way that they learned, at their little retreat, let’s not talking about rape,” the future spokesperson for Hillary, 2016 asserted.
Realizing that she had stepped in it, Finney took to Twitter to insist that she was not using a racial slur at all. In fact, she said the phrase meant something more akin to “crackpot” to her. Surely, she would allow conservatives that kind of deference when they step on a rhetorical landmine.
Of course, Finney did not become an MSNBC celebrity by failing to indulge in the racial grievance-mongering that at one point characterized the entire network. “Study after study has shown, very recently even, that Americans – we tend to associate welfare programs with black people,” Finney insisted in 2012. “So, if you didn’t know that, then shame on you. If you did know that, then shame on you.” In other words, Republicans cannot address poverty issues or budgetary constraints because to do so is to indulge in racism. Either Clinton’s team did not thoroughly vet Finney, or they determined that Team Obama’s ignoble tactic of pitting Americans against one another and baselessly insisting that the GOP is comprised entirely of racists to mask the Democratic Party’s failure to innovate is a winning strategy.
Maybe it is a mixture of both. In 2012, Finney insisted that the GOP’s “festering stereotypes had lethal consequences.” That’s right. When Candidates like Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney talked about persistent inner-city poverty, Finney asserted that they were directly responsible for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. For the offense of recommending that school-age children be offered the chance to make money after school performing light janitorial duties, Finney called Gingrich a “sociopath.” “He is a mean, vindictive S.O.B. who does not really care about anything other than power,” she added.
Of course, this pillar of racial sensitivity insisted that the entire GOP electorate would probably abandon their support for Herman Cain in 2011, not because he was accused of maintaining an extramarital affair, but because he was with a white woman.
“Look, I think it will be interesting to see if these guys rally around Herman Cain with as much veracity as they have these last couple of weeks now that it’s clear that a whole other layer of black sexuality has been infused into this,” Finney told Martin Bashir in 2011. “Also remember these women were ten years younger than we’re seeing them now. So that whole power dynamic. This is an older man, this younger women. White women, Black man.”
This is the person you want to manage the communications for your supposedly inevitable presidential campaign? For Democrats, Clinton’s instincts are suspect, and her casual approach to the upcoming presidential election should be troublesome. For the left, it might be a very long 2016.