At some point, the national Democratic Party’s leadership will discover a backbone and summon up the courage to sever its connection to Hillary Clinton.
Continued eye-rolling and hand-wringing each time Clinton delivers another critique of the party’s current field seeking the presidential nomination merely reinforces the timidity of the party establishment in dealing with the antics of its most recent presidential candidate.
Aside from muted murmurings of concern, the lack of any serious pushback to her rhetorical bomb-throwing stems from a lingering fear of the Clintons or the hope that she will recognize the damage she’s causing and desist.
Fat chance. Clinton is the epitome of self-absorption, stubbornly blaming others for her 2016 defeat while gleefully diminishing those now reaching for the prize she fumbled away. Her assault on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – currently in first, second or third place in the nomination competition – was stunning in its personally insulting tone.
“Nobody wanted to work with him ... nobody liked him ... he got nothing done ... it was all baloney,” she said of the time she shared in the Senate with him, adding that it was unfortunate that people “got sucked into it.”
She went on to characterize him as a “career politician,” seemingly blinded to the irony of the comment uttered by someone who has spent 8 years as First Lady, 8 more as U.S. Senator from New York, 4 years as secretary of state and who twice sought her party’s presidential nomination. She spent the bulk of her adult life holding or seeking public office.
Her attack on Sanders followed her bizarre accusation that Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard – a National Guard major who served in both Iraq and Kuwait – was a “Russian asset.” It was a claim she also directed at Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate in 2016.
Gabbard, the first Samoan-American to serve as a voting member of Congress and the first Hindu to serve, has since brought a lawsuit against Clinton, claiming that the comments defamed her, caused significant economic harm and was an effort to undermine her presidential candidacy.
In light of Clinton’s long public record, Gabbard’s description of her as “a cutthroat politician” was superfluous.
Clinton has loathed Sanders since 2016 when he opposed her in the Democratic presidential primary and came surprisingly close to overtaking her.
She clearly never forgave him, first because he ran against her and second because of delaying an endorsement of her. He was among those she blamed for her loss to President Trump, lumped in with former FBI Director James Comey, Wikileaks, Russian hackers, and the media.
She has retained the support of longtime sycophants who’ve attached themselves to the Clintons like barnacles on the hull of a harbor scow, either out of a sense of blind loyalty or the need to keep the monthly paychecks flowing.
She sent shivers through party leaders when she flirted publicly with the notion of entering the race last year, boasting she’d defeated Trump once – winning the popular vote – and would like nothing better than to do it again.
At the time the Democratic field numbered more than 2 dozen and her public utterances were widely viewed as an effort to clear out the field, scare off lesser candidates, and produce a draft Hillary movement the establishment couldn’t resist.
Nothing of the sort occurred, relegating her to spectator status but giving her the opportunity to roam free and deliver potshots at the remaining field.
She is a divisive, destructive force in the party, driven not by policy differences or the current dispute over progressivism versus moderation as the path to defeating Trump. Hers is a far more personal obsession – proving conclusively that victory was unfairly denied her 4 years ago, that she lost only because of the ineptitude or malfeasance of others.
Despite dozens of analyses and insider books that reject her assertions, she has refused to concede that her campaign was badly organized, strategically flawed, and poorly executed.
Her increasing visibility in this year’s campaign bodes ill for Democrats, not only as a reminder of the demoralizing loss to Trump but the ongoing potential for her to trash Sanders and others at a time when the party is already broken into factions driving cohesion and unity further away.
Whether it’s an individual like national chairman Tom Perez or a delegation of the party’s heavy hitters, it’s time to stiffen the spines and deliver a blunt message to Clinton – retire, write, lecture, do another book tour, enjoy your grandchildren and cease mucking around in this year’s campaign.
Carl Golden is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University in New Jersey. You can reach him at cgolden1937@gmail.