The Corner

Politics & Policy

Ezra Klein: Hillary an ‘Extraordinarily Talented’ Politician

No, really: Ezra Klein, the editor-in-chief of Vox, wrote an article headlined “It’s Time to Admit Hillary Clinton Is an Extraordinarily Talented Politician.”

I’ll let him explain: “Whether you like Clinton or hate her — and plenty of Americans hate her — it’s time to admit that . . . Clinton is actually really good at politics,” Klein writes, concluding that “Hillary Clinton is a generationally talented politician — albeit across a different set of dimensions than men tend to be talented politicians.”

As Inigo Montoya almost said, “You keep using that word, Ezra, I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Klein’s thesis — paraphrased — is that Hillary is a terrible candidate, but, since she won the Democratic nomination with two x chromosomes, she’s an extraordinarily talented politician.

Twice now we have thought that it should have been easy for Clinton to do what no one has ever done before. Twice now we have dismissed her as a weak candidate and a flawed leader for struggling to break a barrier that no one else has ever come near breaking.

America has hosted 56 presidential elections — 33 of them before women received the right to vote. Exactly zero of those elections featured a female nominee from one of the two major political parties.

Until Hillary Clinton.

Yes, Hillary Clinton won a major party’s nomination, and she did it while she happened to be female, but let’s not kid ourselves here. Move the goalposts all you want, say that winning as a female politician is more difficult — much more difficult, even — than winning as a male, give her credit for toughness, a willingness to brazen-out scandals, and a super-human capacity for chutzpah, but don’t try to sell me this.

Let us count (just a sampling) of the ways in which Hillary Clinton is not an “extraordinarily” or “generationally” talented politician.

1) Hillary has been on the public scene for nearly 30 years — and she’s managed to win just two contested general elections, both of which were in deep blue New York against laughably flawed Republican opposition.

2) Hillary — the wife of the previous Democratic president, and a candidate with the united support of the institutional Democratic party and possessing 100 percent name ID — lost the 2008 nomination to some guy no one had ever heard of 15 minutes earlier.

3) Hillary managed to did this after beginning the race with (a) a huge, seemingly insurmountable polling lead and (b) a gigantic fundraising advantage against a guy who (a) had zero political or professional accomplishments to speak of and (b) had attended Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church for two decades while claiming he had never heard any of the good reverend’s rather, ahem, inflammatory pronouncements.

4) Hillary nearly blew the 2016 primary against the weakest, most laughable Democratic field in memory — Lincoln Chafee stood on stage with her in the first debate — including a septuagenarian socialist Larry David lookalike.

5) Before she ran for president this time around, she was too greedy or too clueless (or both) to realize that (a) giving 20-minute speeches to Goldman Sachs for hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop and (b) deciding to exclusively use private e-mail housed on a private server in her basement instead of government e-mail while serving as secretary of state would, ya know, be a political liability.

Hillary Clinton may have won the Democratic nomination; she may well be the next president of the United States. But it’s possible to be a champion without being of superior skill (Trent Dilfer, after all, is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, though no one would mistake him for Peyton Manning). So, no, Hillary is not an extraordinarily talented politician. At best, she is a workaholic, ruthless sociopath blessed with a string of historically weak and feckless opponents.

Most Popular

Immigration

What Now for Trump’s Border Wall?

The verdict on the U.S.–Mexico border wall President Trump promised to construct is decidedly mixed as the year comes to a close. The “big, beautiful wall,” as Trump referred to it, reached 400 miles in length by the end of October, when the Department of Homeland Security held a ceremony hailing the ... Read More
Immigration

What Now for Trump’s Border Wall?

The verdict on the U.S.–Mexico border wall President Trump promised to construct is decidedly mixed as the year comes to a close. The “big, beautiful wall,” as Trump referred to it, reached 400 miles in length by the end of October, when the Department of Homeland Security held a ceremony hailing the ... Read More
White House

A Justified Pardon

President Trump’s pardon of retired General Michael Flynn, who fleetingly served as his first national-security adviser, was a justified act of clemency. You don’t have to be a fan of how Trump has wielded his pardon power (often recklessly and on behalf of friends and supporters) or believe that Flynn was ... Read More
White House

A Justified Pardon

President Trump’s pardon of retired General Michael Flynn, who fleetingly served as his first national-security adviser, was a justified act of clemency. You don’t have to be a fan of how Trump has wielded his pardon power (often recklessly and on behalf of friends and supporters) or believe that Flynn was ... Read More