Seeing President Trump’s looming impeachment and the Democratic clown car spluttering towards the primaries, might it be, could it be, just possible that Hillary Clinton is thinking of running again? Cockburn first heard talk of this from someone who’d been speaking to Roger Clinton, President Clinton’s ne’er do well half-brother. Roger apparently said that Hillary 2020 was being discussed ‘within the family’. But one of Hillary’s confidants told Cockburn that they ‘couldn’t imagine’ the circumstances in which she would run. Why then was Roger saying she might? ‘It’s possible he would misinterpret and distort various conversations.’ Roger was not to be relied on.
Roger Clinton would perhaps not make the most solid of witnesses, your honor. He’s a failed rock singer who was jailed for a year in the Eighties for selling coke and has — or had — a problem with booze. He once urinated in front of reporters while waiting for a plane to arrive. (Though to be fair, a lot of candidates have probably wanted to do that.) ‘Headache’ was the code name given to Roger by the Secret Service during Clinton’s two terms in office. Yet there are other reasons to think that Hillary wants to try, one more time, to win the presidency.
She’s on tour with Chelsea to promote a new book they wrote together, The Book of Gutsy Women. ‘Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them — women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done.’ This week she appeared with Chelsea in LA, at the Wilshire Ebell theater. There didn’t seem to be any reporters in the audience — not from the major news organizations, anyway — which is a pity, because what she said was highly revealing.
The TV personality Maria Shriver, former wife of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was asking the (very respectful) questions. In line with the title of her book, Hillary said that ‘her gutsiest decision ever’ was sticking with Bill when news broke of his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Cockburn’s informant at the event said that Clinton then made ‘two stark admissions’. ‘1) She has been asked by hundreds of friends and supporters to consider seeking the presidency for a third time. And 2) She was the most qualified person to be the next president of the United States.’
That’s an interesting way to put in — not that she was the most qualified person to be president in the last race, but in this one. Cockburn’s informant writes:
‘In private, she has been more expansive, telling friends that the Democratic party is stuck with a terrible field of lackluster candidates. What the coiffured Clinton — decked out in a deliciously designed vanilla pantsuit — failed to tell Shriver is that she’s doing more than playfully considering the presidential proposition. She is seriously pondering the possibility of how she could re-enter the ring. She would like to do so but she just can’t figure out a pathway that’s not strewn with landmines.’
Cockburn’s man on the inside says that Clinton ‘suspects and prays’ that no candidate will have an insurmountable lead in the primaries by the spring of 2020. The game plan looks like this: Joe Biden loses Iowa and New Hampshire — something that now seems quite likely. He then ‘seriously underperforms’ among black voters in South Carolina, causing him to rethink his candidacy. Even then, Cockburn’s informant says, he is not likely to step aside easily. That would take an intervention by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and ‘neither is a big fan’ of hers. ‘So Hillary is counting on the DNC chairman, Tom Perez, to do her courting.’
He went on that Hillary had been ‘floundering’ since she lost in 2016. That was because she hadn’t established a ‘landing platform’ for herself. She did not set up her own academic institute, nor any institution that she could care about passionately and absorb all her attention. ‘She has been a bit adrift, with too much time to contemplate the what ifs of 2016.’
In her mind, if it hadn’t been for the Russians or Jim Comey, she would be president by now. She refuses to accept personal responsibility for her defeat or that of her staff in any serious manner. Her campaign chairman John Podesta was so convinced that Hillary had the election in the bag, he spent millions of campaign dollars on a private study on how to organize the White House staff. Hillary is still conflicted. She has an illness and it is serious. It is called White Houseitis. The virus often causes those afflicted to lose their balance. In Hillary’s case, this illness is agitated by Huma Abedin. She has encouraged Hillary to take one last shot. Huma shadowed every step Hillary made in Los Angeles.
Some of Clinton’s circle of staffers and former staffers are excited by the prospect of her running again. Many are appalled. Cockburn’s man in LA spoke to one former aide who said Hillary was like ‘an aging heavyweight boxer’ being pushed into one last fight. ‘In a way, she is a prisoner of events who may be forced to get into this thing. I worry that Hillary and Huma could end up starring in a remake of Thelma and Louise. Remember the last scene when they drive their car off the cliff? I don’t want that to happen to Hillary.’
Throughout her conversation with Shriver in LA, Hillary repeatedly alluded to her mother Dorothy’s advice: never back down to a bully. At the end of the interview, she said that she wanted to spend the rest of her life getting her country back. A national book tour is a traditional way of launching a presidential campaign. And Hillary’s public statements seem consistent with what she has revealed of her thinking in the private conversations reported to Cockburn. When Donald Trump tweeted last month that ‘Crooked Hillary Clinton’ should enter the race, Hillary replied: ‘Don’t tempt me.’ Last week, the comeback tour continued when she appeared with the Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Georgetown University. She was on stage with Bill, too. Looking at her, he said: ‘I’m the only one that’s not running for anything. Ever. She may or may not ever run for anything but I can’t legally run for president again.’ Translation: she’s not done yet?