The Clintons are back. Despite Democratic members belatedly (by about two decades) denouncing Bill Clinton for the host of women who accused him of sexual assault and rape and the growing unpopularity of Hillary Clinton, Democrats are again putting the couple on the campaign trail in one of the most critical midterm elections in history. Just as the Democratic leadership does not seem to change, neither does the playbook or players. I just do not get it. Hillary has already made headlines in distinguishing her husband’s sexually abusive history by saying these cases were “thoroughly investigated” even though the couple did everything possible to stop such investigations and Democrats remained largely silent despite corroborating evidence from these women. In a remarkably uncritical and relatively passive interview, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour did not seem at all concerned about a strange claim by Clinton that she won the vote of women voters while dismissing white women as opposed to Democratic candidates or values. For those who are looking for a blue wave, the high-profile speaking tour of the Clintons cannot be good news given their continuing polarizing impact in polls. As Democrats seeks to build on the MeToo anger in the aftermath of the Kavanaugh hearings, the Clintons remind voters of the obvious hypocrisy in how Democrats handled the Bill Clinton accusations.Here is the exchange on white women voters:
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Last night, President Trump had a sort of ceremony for now Justice Kavanaugh at the White House, and he apologized on behalf the
American people for the immense amount of pain and harm that he said that the judge had been put through by this system.
What do you make of that and what message, including the president’s mocking of Christine Blasey Ford for her allegations, what message does that send to women? And remember, went for President Trump in 2016.
CLINTON: White women.
AMANPOUR: White women.
HILLARY CLINTON, 2016 DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT: White women. All women went for me. And look, White women have been voting against Democratic presidential candidates for decades now. The White vote has only then won twice in the last 60 years. My husband being one of the two. Lyndon Johnson being the other. So, it’s not a surprise. It’s a disappointment but it’s not a surprise.”
Actually, it was a surprise to everyone other than Hillary Clinton since she was the first female Democratic nominee for president running against someone who was viewed as antagonistic to women’s rights with major controversies in the treatment of women. Clinton seemed to treat it as expected that she would lose the vote of white women and dismissed them as a lock for Republicans. There is no evidence to support that.
After the election, Clinton alternatively blamed sexism, racism, self-hating women, domineering boyfriends, Russian hackers, Bernie Sanders, and of course, James Comey. The most obvious reason is that Clinton remains a highly unpopular figure and was viewed as inauthentic on the campaign by many. Many of us were critical when the Democratic establishment (and virtually every Democratic member of Congress) all but guaranteed the nomination of Clinton despite every poll showing her to be unpopular and the voters seeking an anti-establishment choice.
On the women’s vote, Clinton did best with African-American women. She carried 88% of African-American voters, but that was actually lower than Obama. She had a serious problem in minority women simply not coming out for her in the same numbers. Trump actually did better than Romney on hispanic voters.
To this day, Clinton has struggled to convince people it was not her but sexism or self-hating women or Russians despite polls showing that she would still lose to Trump and has actually gotten more unpopular. This would not be particularly newsworthy if it were not for Democrats who continue to flock to the Clinton. Even after many denounced Bill Clinton belatedly, they are still drawing adoring crowds and will once again be highly visible faces for the Democratic party. Even if they turn away 2 to 5 percent of voters, that could be the difference for many races.
The one new component is Hillary Clinton declaring that Democrats must now drop civility toward Republicans. That is a bit late given our rageful politics but it is hardly a principled position. I have criticized Trump for his uncivil and unpresidential comments but that is no license for principled people to drop the necessity of being civil. It is little more than the child-like defense of “he did it first.” In a curious suggestion of belated principle, Clinton assured voters that civility can be restored after Democrats come back into power.