NEW YORK – It’s not like Hillary Clinton hasn’t been in this position before.
She was the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2008.
But the notions that this is her time, that the field of potential opposition is clear and that she has been thoroughly vetted before could be her undoing, again.
There may be far more hurdles for her to overcome in 2016 than she and her supporters realize.
First, the political culture has changed dramatically since 2008. Back then, both she and Barack Obama officially opposed “same-sex marriage,” an issue that has changed the political landscape at light speed – becoming an intensely polarizing issue that has even challenged previous assumptions about religious freedom.
Today both Obama and Clinton support same-sex marriage, both acknowledging that their views have “evolved” over the years. Obama’s public positions certainly “evolved.” In 1996, as a state Senate candidate in Illinois, he filled out a questionnaire saying he was for it. As a U.S. Senate candidate in 2004, he was against it. In 2008, as a candidate for president, he was not only against it, but told interviewer Rick Warren on national television, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.” Yet, by 2012, when he sought re-election as president, he was for it, again. Last year he decided it was a constitutional right for same-sex marriages to be recognized in all states.
One of his closest presidential campaign advisers in 2008, David Axelrod, wrote in his book “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics,” that Obama was deceiving the public about his true position from 2004 through 2012.
What about Clinton? As president in 1996, her husband signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act, which was approved by large, veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate. When did her epiphany occur?
It’s not like sex wasn’t a big issue during the Clinton years. She faces two major challenges in taking credibly “progressive” stances in 2016 – both relating to her own marriage and her steadfast “stand-by-your-man” defense of her husband.
One source close to the entertainment industry is shopping what are described as hours of telephone conversations allegedly recorded by a jilted lesbian lover in which an inebriated Mrs. Clinton supposedly trashes politicians and celebrities, including her husband. The opening bid for the recordings is $10 million. Whether their actual content will ever see the light of day is an open question. But would Clinton, already under fire for her erasing most of her emails as secretary of state, be able to handle the dropping of a bomb like that?
Some in the progressive and feminist community are angry with Clinton for her role in the cover-up of what they see as legitimate sexual harassment, womanizing and even rape, allegations against her husband. In an interview with Reason magazine in March, for instance, Camille Paglia had this to say about a Clinton candidacy: “[H]illary does not have it. Hillary is a mess. And we’re going to reward the presidency to a woman who’s enabled the depredations and exploitation of women by that cornpone husband of hers? The way feminists have spoken makes us blind to Hillary’s record of trashing [women]. They were going to try to destroy Monica Lewinsky. It’s a scandal. Anyone who believe in sexual harassment guidelines should have seen that the disparity of power between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky was one of the most grotesque ever in the history of sex crime. He’s a sex criminal. We’re going to put that guy back in the White House? Hillary’s ridden on his coattails. This is not a woman who has her own career, who’s made her own career! The woman who failed the bar exam in Washington. The only reason she went to Arkansas and got a job in the Rose law firm was because her husband was a politician.”
It could get rough out there – and Clinton has even more baggage.
What person almost certain not to be present at Clinton’s official announcement today is Huma Abedin. The attractive Abedin has been a constant companion with Clinton for nearly two decades, beginning as a White House intern in 1996. Since then she has held positions as Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff and “body woman” during Clinton’s 2008 Democratic presidential campaign, as deputy chief of staff to her as secretary of state and now works for the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation.
This relationship survived despite Abedin’s marriage to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-New York, whose career imploded when he was forced to admit he had texted sexually explicit photos of himself to at least six different women, a fact he had previously denied. It also survived Weiner’s ill-fated bid to become mayor of New York in the wake of the scandal.
More remarkably, the relationship between Clinton and Abedin also survived revelations that the latter has extensive family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the wide-ranging network that birthed both al-Qaida and ISIS and whose organizations mission is “destroying Western civilization from within.” But it gets worse.
While Clinton used an insecure private email account exclusively as secretary of state, she officially prohibited other State Department employees from doing so. Yet, Abedin, as deputy chief of staff, also violated the policy. Judicial Watch has filed suit in federal court for access to these emails.
Abedin is also certain to receive additional scrutiny over disclosures that private consulting firm Teneo, where Doug Band, former “body man” and advisor to former President Bill Clinton is president and Bill Clinton is a board member, paid Huma $335,000 as a consultant working a second job while she was also a part-time consultant to the State Department, earning $135,000 as a government employee.
Then, of course, there’s the ongoing investigation of her role in the Benghazi disaster.
No doubt the role her husband would play in a second Clinton administration would be a nagging question. Bill Clinton often alluded to his wife’s role as a kind of co-presidency, with the former president gleefully proclaiming the voting public would “get two for one” with a vote for him.
But there’s yet more trouble in paradise.
Still brewing for Bill Clinton is the Jeffrey Epstein scandal and the rumored $3.5 million contribution Epstein sent from a Swiss bank account to Bill and Hillary’s foundation after allegations of Bill’s involvement in Epstein’s pedophile “Orgy Island” became public earlier this year.
Then there are the innumerable foreign contributions made to the Clinton Foundation, including some made by foreign lobbyists while Mrs. Clinton served as secretary of state.
Will it really be a smooth ride to the Democratic Party presidential nomination this time?
How about the White House?