This past week Hillary Clinton announced that Bill Clinton will be in charge of economic policy if she is elected President. That announcement represents the latest in a mounting series of political blunders that will hurt her chances in the Fall.
Hillary Clinton must somehow gain the support of Bernie Sanders supporters if she is to unify the Democratic Party and shore up her chances of victory. Bernie Sanders has been a vocal critic of U.S. trade policy and of the Clintons’ support for NAFTA. Thus far, those supporters have been highly skeptical of Hillary’s overtures toward them. She is for them, as the unsuccessful Republican Governor candidates were for Trump Republicans, representative of an establishment they despise.
There is no more important issue for voters in this election than the economy. Indeed, the central glue that binds Sanders’ supporters to him is his attack on Wall Street and crony capitalism in Washington. He has consistently faulted Hillary Clinton for her Wall Street ties, for her dependency on large moneyed interests to support her campaign, and for her history of favoring trade deals that he and his supporters view as anathema to working Americans. Sanders, the socialist, has succeeded in drawing far more youthful and energetic supporters to his cause than Hillary, and she cannot win if those Sanders’ supporters become disaffected and either stay home or vote for Sanders as a third party candidate.
Pressured by Donald Trump’s superior ratings on knowledge of the economy, Hillary Clinton decided that her best counter would be to profess that in her White House Bill Clinton would be in charge of economic policy. Bill Clinton will be “in charge of revitalizing the economy,” Hillary said a short time ago.
The move is a critical mistake for an already weak candidate. At the outset, it sends all the wrong signals. Only the President can be in charge of the single most important issue in presidential politics, yet Hillary has abdicated that role to her husband. Clinton likes to project the image that she is “in charge” and that she, a woman, will be the first chief executive in the White House. That narrative is contradicted when on the single most important issue it will be Bill Clinton, a man, who will be in charge.
To make matters worse, Bill Clinton’s long history of infidelity to Hillary and of philandering force those issues back into the limelight as Bill, already slated to be the “First Gentleman” in a Hillary Clinton White House will resume at least some of his former role as President by being “in charge of revitalizing the economy.” That move thus gives greater credence to Donald Trump’s attack on Bill Clinton’s abuse of women and Hillary Clinton’s enabling activity.
Finally, back to the Sanders’ supporters, this move adds greatly to the already negative baggage they associate with Hillary Clinton. She is indeed the quintessential establishment candidate, but she is reinforcing that role by reinserting the centrist Bill Clinton back into White House governance. In their eyes, the move signals palpable Clinton support for expanding the very trade deals they hate and for expanding, rather than contracting, establishment politics in Washington.
In short, the overt declaration that Bill Clinton will run economic policy in Hillary Clinton’s White House is a political disaster. She has added to the factors that discredit her with Sanders’ supporters precisely at the time she mouths platitudes in their direction in an effort to accept her as a Bernie substitute.
She undermines her first woman President argument, the only consistent position she has and her main “credential” in liberal circles for becoming President. She adds to the email, Clinton Foundation, and Benghazi scandals surrounding her the old abuse of women baggage of her husband. She justifies Donald Trump’s attack upon her as an enabler of Bill Clinton; indeed, she plans to enable him to resume a central role in the White House resurrecting all the ugly sex abuse history that entails. Perhaps worst of all, at a time when the electorate yearns for a Washington outsider to shake things up, she confirms that she is a Washington insider who will revitalize the old Democratic guard. Properly exploited by Donald Trump, this latest political blunder definitely represents yet another nail in Hillary Clinton’s political coffin.
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