There are good weeks, and then there are, “damn, I’m good…” weeks.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has just experienced the later for two weeks in a row. Let’s start at her commanding performance at the Las Vegas debates. We’ve covered much of what was said that night but the fallout is still raining down. Since that night forty percent of her competition has dropped out of the race, in Lincoln Chaffey and Tim Webb. Bernie Sanders is still a very real threat to the Clinton campaign but no longer as a potential nominee, now he plays as spoiler. Sanders’s underwhelming Vegas debate solidified his iconic status with his devote followers but left those on the fence falling back in love with Clinton, whose expertise was just far too wide and nuanced for the economy-centered Sanders to combat. This leaves only Martin O’Malley, who has absolutely no chance anything near a win but in realizing this, he can run a skeleton campaign for five dollars a day and still get free national headlines on a daily basis until the Democratic Convention.
There was still the looming specter of a potential Biden campaign that had the real possibility of unseating Clinton. Many unions were holding their breaths and endorsements on the hopes that Joe Biden would enter the race, and for a time it seemed like an inevitability. When Biden took the podium in the Rose Garden flanked by his wife and President Obama, his candidacy seemed a lock only for him to announce “that window has closed”. He could not mount a successful campaign against Hillary and made no bones about admitting that in a recent CBS interview. This frees Clinton to tie her herself to the administration as the nearest and clearest link to the successful Obama legacy left for the next democrat to take up.
It was in an earlier edition of The Weekly Politic where I offered the sage advice to never willingly make your opponent the underdog. If you do, you will surely lose every war of public opinion. Apparently, many in the GOP do not read my column…
The Benghazi hearings had been scheduled for months in advance and left a heavy question mark over the viability of Clinton’s candidacy. While the time leading up to the hearing left critics ample room to fill in the blanks with rampant speculation as to her nefarious mishandlings, it also gave Clinton time to prepare. And in hindsight, she may have been the only one who did. The hearing took over eleven hours, interviewing just Clinton. Republicans took turns inventing conspiracy theories that Clinton passively swatted aside with a calm recitation of fact, the bane to any far-right GOP. The democrats on the panel did their best to counterbalance the assault by highlighting the ineptitude of the hearings as a whole. By the end Trey Gowdy, chairman of the panel, and the rest of his hatchetmen and -women looked like sweaty, red-faced clowns while Hillary remained centered and in control of her emotions the entire night. Even many staunch conservative pundits including Eric Erickson and Frank Luntz had to award the win to Hillary.
The night also offered Clinton an opportunity to showcase her ability in standing up to insolent and aggressive Republicans, something that will be sorely needed when facing off against a potential Trump candidacy in the General Election. If there was any other evidence needed of her absolute routing of the Republicans that night, one just has to follow the money. The immediate hour following the Benghazi hearings was the most lucrative hour in campaign fundraising and donations that the campaign had ever seen, including all of her 2008 bid. When asked candidly on a hot mic by an associate how she could remain so calm for hours of interrogation, Clinton whispered, “I’m meditating during the breaks.” Asked later by the press, she attested to the powers of yoga. As Clinton turns decidedly Zen, her opponents seem content at destroying themselves. The last hurdle remaining appears to be the FBI probe into her private email server. It should be noted, despite claims from her potential fall opponents, that the investigation is not targeting her, but the structure of classified electronic correspondence as a whole. Furthermore, they have found nothing incriminating on the front-runner to date.