Margaret Thatcher, one of the most successful British prime ministers of modern times, was known to her enemies and detractors as “That Bloody Woman” (see Derek Turner’s review in this issue). America’s equivalent for Republicans and conservatives for the past 30 years has been Hillary Clinton, so much Mrs. Thatcher’s inferior in intelligence, talent, and accomplishment that she bears comparison with her only in terms of the intense animosity she inspires. Before last summer, that animosity had been confined chiefly to her and her husband’s detractors since the first Clinton administration. Yet it quickly became apparent, almost from the start of her presidential campaign a year ago, that dislike and distrust of Mrs. Clinton are not only widespread but bipartisan, as Senator Sanders launched his unexpectedly damaging challenge to her in the Democratic primaries, and the former First Lady, only a few years ago the most admired person in America, suddenly registered in the polls as one of the more unpopular figures in American politics.
The almost unprecedented rebuke to Mrs. Clinton in the report issued by the State Department’s inspector general in the last week of May concerning her determination to conceal her use of a personal email account while serving as secretary of state only confirms for people this dislike and suspicion of her. Critics of her nearly certain opponent in the fall presidential campaign claim that Donald Trump’s lack of political experience and his volatile nature make him unfit to be chief executive of the United States. While that claim cannot be substantiated short of Trump’s having served in the office for a year or two, Hillary Clinton’s record in public service, like her husband’s, is thoroughly and conclusively documented. As a candidate for the highest office in the land, Mrs. Clinton continues to display the delusional self-destructive tendencies of the self-absorbed narcissist, wholly assured of her existential centrality, confident that the rules of ordinary conduct and of law do not apply to herself and that she is free, therefore, to flout them recklessly and with impunity, relying upon the formula of balls, bull, and bluff to have her way in the end—time after time after time.
Whether operating separately or together, the Clintons (America’s coppia iniqua, as Donizetti’s librettist has Ann Boleyn refer to Henry VIII and Lady Jane Seymour) have got away with behavior that would have ruined other politicians and come off unscathed save for their reputations as persons of integrity, which mean little or nothing to them anyway so long as they achieve their aims, including the amassing of a large fortune. Mrs. Clinton, who failed Washington, D.C.’s bar exam before passing Arkansas’s much easier one, owes her entire public life, including her presidential candidacies in 2008 and 2016, to a canny marriage. With an unpleasant personality that directly reflects her character, no political skills, no charisma, and no charm, her support this year has dwindled to a cadre of aging and bitter feminists from the 1960’s and 70’s who would enthusiastically elect a dead woman as president to vindicate the Sisterhood younger women care little about.
Hillary Clinton and her husband have stopped at nothing in their careers for the sole reason that no one with the power to stop them chose to do so, preferring to act instead as their facilitators. Yes, Mrs. Clinton has “experience”—30 years’ worth of it, more than enough to have perfected the arts of manipulation, deceit, humbuggery, demagogy, and stonewalling, though not the art of statecraft. And, especially, not of good judgment. Both Clintons have spent their political lives tempting fate, getting caught out, and surviving—so far. Did Hillary Clinton really think she’d never be held accountable for the home server in Chappaqua? Of course she did. So far we have no evidence that Donald Trump, a risk-taker himself, would have felt the same sense of assurance in his invulnerability.