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The vetting of Hillary begins

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Sunday’s “Meet the Press” was of course largely focused on Hillary’s declaration of her candidacy for the White House, and I was glad to be a part of it.

My contribution to the panel that resonated with the Twitterverse was remarking on how the latest Clinton rollout has a surreal “Weekend at Bernie’s” feel — one which was exacerbated by New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio’s refusal to endorse Hillary when directly and repeatedly asked about doing so by host Chuck Todd. Dems are working overtime to prop up a candidate who seems on the verge of collapse before she’s even begun.

New York Times’ columnist David Brooks and NPR’s Maria Hinojosa agreed that this is just De Blasio (and the left wing of the Democratic Party) trying to push their inevitable nominee towards their rhetoric and policies. (Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is an official of the Democratic National Committee so she was able to maintain neutrality in the face of the endorsement question.)

But the whopper of a talking point that De Blasio snuck into his recitation of the virtues of the former secretary of state was that Mrs. Clinton was “thoroughly vetted.” The sound of my jaw hitting the panel’s desk might have distracted Chuck Todd, but he recovered and we had a spirited discussion of the former first lady’s strengths and weaknesses.

When Hinojosa and the mayor both agreed that “shelf date” and “freshness” issues are “nuclear” for women, I was obliged to point out this has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with Hillary being a sort of permanent cornea implant in all of our lives that none of us asked for. Her famous “60 Minutes” Tammy Wynette interview took place in February o1992! There are a half dozen new monuments in or around the National Mall since Hillary barged into our lives. Of course there is a “freshness” issue — it has nothing to do with her being a woman, and everything to do with her being part of the permanent Beltway elite.

One of Hillary’s greatest vulnerabilities is that she is not viewed as “honest and trustworthy” by huge numbers of Americans in recent polls. She is also shackled to a string of foreign policy failures as long as the chain of money boxes Marley’s ghost dragged about in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: the Russian reset button, Syria, Egypt, Libya, increasingly China and almost certainly a terrible “deal” with Iran.

A failed tenure at State, a missing stack of thousands of erased emails, a weariness that comes from three decades of stories about her and her husband — this is the reality of Hillary ’16. Like New Coke and the New Nixon, this is a tough sell. Whether she will be the former and fail or the latter and tough it out remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: The vetting has just begun.


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