The best darn change-maker I ever met in my entire life.” So said Bill Clinton in making the case for his wife at the Democratic National Convention. Considering that Bernie Sanders ran as the author of a political revolution and Donald Trump as the man who would “kick over the table” (to quote Newt Gingrich) in Washington, “change-maker” does not exactly make the heart race.
Which is the fundamental problem with the Clinton campaign. What precisely is it about? Why is she running in the first place?
Like most dynastic candidates (most famously Ted Kennedy in 1979), she really doesn’t know. She seeks the office because, well, it’s the next — the final — step on the ladder.
Her campaign’s premise is that we’re doing okay, but we can do better. There are holes to patch in the nanny-state safety net. She’s the one to do it.
It amounts to Sanders lite. Or the short-lived Bush slogan: “Jeb can fix it.” We know where that went.
The one man who could have given the pudding a theme, who could have created a plausible Hillaryism was Bill Clinton. Rather than do that — the way in Cleveland Gingrich shaped Trump’s various barstool eruptions into a semi-coherent program of national populism — Bill gave a long chronological account of a passionate liberal’s social activism. It was an attempt, I suppose, to humanize her.