The Corner

The Deeper Significance of Hillary’s ‘Enemies’ Gaffe

In response to Not a Rip-Off?

I agree entirely with Charlie below with regard to Hillary’s statement that the enemy she is most proud of is the Republican party. But I’d add a few things. 

1. This should properly be considered a Kinsley gaffe in that she accidentally told the truth. For much of the night, she stuck to her focus-grouped talking points, boasting about how she knows how to build consensus and work the system in Washington “to get things done.” And then, in a spontaneous slip, she revealed that she considers Republicans — altogether — not only her enemy, but the enemy she is most proud of. It would have been nice if Anderson Cooper, Jim Webb or one of the pushovers on stage had seized that point and asked, “How can you talk about building consensus when you’ve just boasted that you consider all Republicans your enemy?” Clinton is much more of a Manichean than she usually lets on. That’s one reason she keeps Sid Blumenthal on retainer as a Wormtongue. He says the things about Republican conspirators she wants to hear and believe. 

2. Even though it was gaffe, it won’t get treated as one by the media because it doesn’t sound like one to their ears (for all the obvious reasons). But you can be sure that if Ted Cruz had said that the Democrats are the enemy he is most proud of (instead of, say, the “Washington cartel”), the usual suspects on Morning Joe would be horrified. The concern trolling columns by Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne virtually write themselves. 

3. It wasn’t necessarily bad politics — in the primaries. The Democratic base largely shares her Manicheanism when it comes to the Republican party these days. That’s one reason why Sanders wasn’t as foolish as some think for his “gift” on the e-mail scandal. Many Democrats now reflexively take the view that if Republicans or Fox News think something is bad, then it must be an illegitimate issue. Lending even rhetorical aid and comfort to the enemy is counted as “unprogressive” even on issues that progressives should be horrified by. The Clinton Foundation’s incestuous cronyism should horrify the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic party. But saying so would be seen as using “right-wing talking points” so they stay mum on the issue. The same people who freaked out over the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity should properly want Clinton indicted for what she did with her e-mail. But if the Republicans think so too, it must not be so. 

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

Most Popular

U.S.

Supreme Court Mulls Citizenship Question for Census

Washington -- The oral arguments the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday will be more decorous than the gusts of judicial testiness that blew the case up to the nation’s highest tribunal. The case, which raises arcane questions of administrative law but could have widely radiating political and policy ... Read More
White House

Another Warning Sign

The Mueller report is of course about Russian interference in the 2016 election and about the White House's interference in the resulting investigation. But I couldn’t help also reading the report as a window into the manner of administration that characterizes the Trump era, and therefore as another warning ... Read More
Film & TV

It’s the Deep Breath before the Plunge

Warning. SPOILERS are ahead. If you don’t want to know anything about episode two of the final season of Game of Thrones, stop reading. Now. One of my favorite moments in Peter Jackson's outstanding adaptation of Lord of the Rings happened in the final movie, The Return of the King. On the eve of Mordor's ... Read More