Politics & Policy

The Corner

The Continuing Travails of the Ironic Hillary Clinton

From NBC’s “First Read” e-mail (emphasis mine):

A Double-Whammy for Clinton, Part One: After months of resistance, Hillary Clinton’s campaign says that the former secretary of state will turn over to the Justice Department her private server and a thumb drive containing copies of her emails. (And that news came on the same day that we learned that two of the emails that the inspector general for the intelligence community reviewed contained “top secret” information, the highest classification of government intelligence.) This is exactly the scenario that many people assumed would play out beginning six months ago – that Clinton would resist and resist and resist and then relieve the pressure when it became absolutely necessary.  The big problem for her camp is that now, instead of looking proactive, Clinton looks like she’s been dragged into turning these materials over.  Team Clinton argues, by the way, that the “top secret” designation can be attributed to a bureaucratic fight between the State Department and the intelligence community about how information should be categorized. (The State Department says that it is still assessing the information.) The bottom line: We know we sound like a broken record in saying that this issue isn’t going away for Clinton, but these fights over potentially classified materials guarantees a continued drip-drip-drip.

Yes, she “looks” that way because that is exactly what’s happened. Clinton has been dragged into doing this. She didn’t want to turn these materials over and was forced to do so. The fact that this looks like the case is because it is the case. 

I don’t mean to pick on First Read, it’s just that Hillary Clinton has this amazing way of seducing everyone into talking about her as if appearances are all there were, as if her maneuvers and spin are the only thing we’ll ever really know about the person. 

 Here’s how I put it over a year ago, long before she announced she was running:

Clinton may be president one day, but she’s already presidential in one sense: Her statements are never really taken at face value. Every utterance is examined for its ironic content and parsed like the rough draft of ad copy. What will people take away from this? What message is she sending to her fans? What spin is she offering to the media? What bait is she giving her enemies? How true is it?

And this is from a follow-up post I did on this point exactly one year ago today:

Now, of course, every presidential contender is judged through similar prisms. But Clinton is something different. She’s like an avatar of herself. The homunculus inside is playing a video game called politics and Hillary’s every move is judged as a tactical or strategic maneuver. Nobody (at least nobody who follows politics), fan or foe, can see her as anything other than a political projection, an amalgam of ambitions (her own, her husband’s, her fans’). In the long run, I still believe this will be her undoing. Because at this moment in our politics authenticity is the most vital commodity on the left and the right, particularly populist authenticity. That is something Hillary hasn’t learned to fake yet.

Once you start looking for it, you’ll see it in even her friendliest coverage. Nobody writes or talks about Hillary Clinton in an unfiltered way — at least not for very long — because she’s all filter. There’s no authenticity left. She’s like a walking polygon: all angles. 

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