So, Hillary Clinton. Skipping down the street. Sun is shining. A small and brightly colored bird is perching on her shoulder. Look – is that a rainbow?
Wow, what a good month she’s having. Certainly she’s due, by the sheer laws of probability. Nobody has as many bad months as Hillary Clinton. But this is really one heck of a run. Do you think there’s been an intervention? I just looked up a magic spell for “achieving a dream job” and it involves candles, cinnamon incense and bergamot oil. Just saying.
She had a great debate Tuesday night. Her main opponent, Bernie Sanders, said America was sick and tired of the damned email thing! This is actually classic Sanders, who combines persistent truth-telling with extreme crankiness. But convenient as all get-out for Clinton, who did an excellent job herself on most of the questions. In a perfect world she wouldn’t have said “I represented Wall Street,” but all in all, a home run.
And think of all the other stuff that’s been falling her way. She aced her spot on “Saturday Night Live.” This sort of thing is actually not all that tough for politicians – you just have to look sort of human. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine Ted Cruz playing a sympathetic bartender.
And there’s Benghazi. The Republican-controlled House investigative committee that’s scheduled to grill her next week is beset by every disaster short of a plague of locusts. First House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy went on TV and utterly ruined the committee’s credibility by suggesting its purpose was to destroy Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The bad juju kept spreading. McCarthy dropped out of the race for speaker of the House, leaving the Republican majority in disarray and chaos. Maybe Clinton has been using that Macbeth recipe, the one involving eye of newt.
Then a former employee of the investigative committee popped up out of nowhere claiming he had been fired because he didn’t want to spend all of his time looking for ways to destroy Clinton. Double the newts and don’t hold back on the toe of frog.
A Times story by Eric Lipton, Noam Scheiber and Michael Schmidt explored the committee’s $4.5 million, 17-month history and was full of fascinating details beginning with the planned interviews that never occurred and hearings that never happened. Meanwhile, according to the aggrieved ex-employee, some staffers used their spare time to form a gun-buying club, while members held “wine Wednesdays” at which they sipped from glasses labeled “Glacial Pace.”
The committee leaders could, of course, still come down hard on Clinton. But if they do, you have to hope at some point she’ll bring up the guns and wine.
Right now, the Clinton campaign is still in the post-debate glow. More viewers watched it than the season premiere of “The Walking Dead”! People, when you are depressed about the state of the nation, think about the fact that more people wanted to see Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on CNN than tuned in for the most popular zombie TV series in history.
Clinton is almost always good in debates – she hit a question about Carly Fiorina’s opposition to paid family leave out of the park – and it didn’t hurt to be a woman surrounded by four crabby-looking men, only one of whom seemed to have any actual excuse for being there. Some people felt the high point was Sanders’ denouncing the email questions, but I personally treasure the moment when Lincoln Chafee called himself “a block of granite.”
Sanders did fine. In fact, he seemed to win the focus groups, and small donors poured in a new font of money. The country deserves a two-person debate between him and Clinton, maybe just about the financial industry. The next morning we would be discussing the Glass-Steagall Act from coast to coast, which would definitely make “The Walking Dead” ratings story pale by comparison.
But the first-debate danger for Clinton was mainly that one of the lesser-known candidates would come out of left field and throw her off balance, with jabs about ethics and emails. It is hard to express the degree to which that did not happen. Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, who was the original favorite to be Guy Who Gives Hillary a Run, looked at times as if he wanted to cry. The next morning O’Malley sent out a mass mailing announcing that the debate “wasn’t about me” but instead about … the death penalty.
It was possibly the weirdest campaign email I have ever seen in my life. Maybe O’Malley got caught up by the Hillary Clinton success spell. We’ll know it’s real next week if they open the Benghazi hearing and the Capitol starts to levitate.