The funniest episode in the protective yet revealing new Hillary Clinton profile arrives when we learn that this sad, unemployed, 69-year-old lady is so desperate to keep her self-image alive that she still employs flunkies and retainers to treat her as though she actually were the president, or the secretary of state, or a president in waiting, or at very least the leader of the opposition. Her longtime loyalists are so happy to bustle around her in the service of maintaining the illusion that, after she takes an hour away from it all to exercise, her communications director, Nick Merrill, breathlessly updates her on everything that’s happened in the political world in the last threescore ticks of the minute hand. Her profiler, Rebecca Traister of New York magazine, obviously a great admirer but one who declines to throw herself overboard from reality for the sake of giving Hillary more company bobbing about in the sea of fancy, writes that Clinton “listens to the barrage of updates, nodding like a person whose job requires her to be up-to-date on what’s happening, even though it does not.”
Ouch. Hillary Rodham Clinton isn’t merely in a state of denial. She has become Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense. Politically speaking, she is dead, but she doesn’t know it. Her staffers are so many Haley Joel Osments — too kind (and too attached to their salaries) to tell her that her career is over. She doesn’t need briefings. She doesn’t need to do interviews. She doesn’t need to write the book she is writing (after so many indigestible volumes, why bother with one more?). She doesn’t need to stake out a politically nuanced position on James Comey’s firing or scramble to get out in front of the Resistance parade. She lost two exceedingly winnable presidential campaigns in Hindenburgian fashion. There is no demand for her to run again and there is nothing left for her except to receive whatever ceremonial honors and sinecures may come her way. She has been handed her political retirement papers by the American people. She’s done.
Why bother pursuing such a trite theme? Because Clinton was eager to show the Washington political hacks that she is still a tough operator, a leader of the anti-Trump movement, a player. She was, in other words, campaigning. To all appearances, the game is long over. Yet she is still on the field, because the game isn’t over to her. Hey, there’s another election in three and a half years, folks. And need we remind you who won the popular vote?
Clinton was eager to show the Washington political hacks that she is still a tough operator, a leader of the anti-Trump movement, a player.
Clinton does not mention that she made more campaign stops in Arizona than in Wisconsin. She forgets that she ignored the advice of her own husband that it was unwise to write off white working-class voters. She does not allude to her having hidden from the public a bout with pneumonia until she was forced to release information when a random bystander happened to make a video of her collapsing on a mild day in New York City. She doesn’t reflect on her uninspiring speeches or her off-putting personality. Traister doesn’t press her on any of these matters, and the anticipation of that treatment is why Clinton agreed to speak to someone like Traister in the first place.
In lieu of all of this, Clinton seeks to present herself as the most forceful opponent of the Trump administration. Should the president be impeached, she’ll be able to say: Hey, I called it! But she isn’t leading the national conversation, she’s mouthing along with it, like any other retiree talking back to cable news at home. Even if the Trump administration proves to be the catastrophe she foresees, there is no reason the Democrats would turn back to her for a third run. Every time she draws attention to the Trumpian flaws that were conspicuous to all during the campaign, she doesn’t hear the obvious rejoinder echoing in every American’s mind: Then why couldn’t you trounce him?
— Kyle Smith is National Review Online’s critic-at-large.