Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By JAY COST
"Ready for Hillary” is the rather ominous name given to the super-PAC working on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s putative presidential campaign. One group that appears to be ready for Hillary, according to the Hill, is the vast array of lobbyists known as K Street:
With Democrats in Congress already anointing Clinton as the party’s standard-bearer, lobbyists are pledging their allegiance and making clear they will do whatever they can to help the former first lady become first in command. . . .
Clinton has not yet revealed her plans for 2016. But after more than two decades in national politics as first lady, senator and secretary of State, she has a virtual army of Washington hands standing ready to serve as foot soldiers in a presidential campaign.
Meanwhile, Republicans seem to be less than ready for Hillary’s money. Consider that in 2008, she raised about $230 million for the primary battle alone, where she had to split the left’s big donors with Barack Obama. Four years later, Mitt Romney raised $450 million for the primary and the general. Those are numbers that should trouble Republicans now, for if Clinton runs again, it stands to reason that she will outraise the GOP nominee, who will probably have been burdened with an expensive primary battle.
The GOP has another problem with Hillary: In the last quarter-century, it has exhibited no facility for countering Clintonism in the public mind. This failure is arguably worse than any cash crunch; it does not matter how much money you spend making a bad argument if it is still a bad argument. And that is all the GOP ever seems to have against the Clintons.
Republicans have had three at-bats against the Clintons—the elections of 1992 and 1996 and the impeachment proceedings of 1998-99—and struck out every time. To date, there is little evidence they have learned from their defeats. Rand Paul has been raising Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct, something that backfired while Clinton was president. Meanwhile, some Republican pundits are saying that Hillary Clinton has never really accomplished anything, a line that got George H.W. Bush nowhere in 1992.
Almost certain to be outraised and lacking any compelling case against the Clintons, the Republican party, it is fair to say, is not ready for Hillary. If anything, the classic Clinton shtick—“I feel your pain”—should play particularly well in this age of seemingly permanent economic anxiety.
Context is still important. In 1992, when Bill and Hillary Clinton waxed eloquent about the middle-class squeeze, they were flanked by an unemployed steelworker and a single mother working two jobs. Nowadays, they are more likely to have Warren Buffett on one side and Mick Jagger on the other. That’s the price you pay for being at the top of the world’s political, social, and economic hierarchy for a quarter-century: You are bound to lose touch with the “folks” (a Clintonian classic) who elevated you to those heights in the first place. In 1992 George H.W. Bush was the out-of-touch elitist who (supposedly) did not understand how a grocery scanner worked. In 2016, Hillary Clinton will not have driven her own car for 25 years.
And therein lies the GOP’s best opportunity.
Put simply, the party should try to occupy the same political space the Clintons seized in 1992, and cast the Clintons in the role of the out-of-touch elitist. Bill’s appetite for the rock-star lifestyle—hobnobbing with the gilded elite in Davos rather than the diner crowd in Little Rock—facilitates this effort. So does Hillary’s presumably endless grasping for campaign contributions, which unmistakably connects her to the elite (and reviled) quarters of this country. Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein is already on board for Hillary, which tells you all you need to know. It should, in theory, be possible for the GOP to expose the hypocrisy of the Clintons’ pitch to the “forgotten middle class,” given that they seemingly have forgotten all about their own middle-class backgrounds.
That’s the theory, at any rate. In practice, success depends upon the nominee. Some candidates are well equipped to make a populist pitch to the middle class, others not. Republicans tend to nominate the latter type, whether longtime Washington insiders (Gerald Ford, Bob Dole, John McCain) or political scions (George W. Bush, Mitt Romney) or both (George H.W. Bush). The seemingly narrow caste of eligible GOP nominees has a lot to do with the party’s own addiction to special-interest money; these are, after all, the sorts of people who can raise the cash needed to run the ads to sway primary voters in Ohio and Florida.
Everybody loves the spirit of compromise. Except voters. Mar 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 25 • By JAY COST
Historically, potent third parties or outside political movements have had one of two origins. On the one hand, they were driven by powerful personalities who did not fit cleanly within either of the major parties: Theodore Roosevelt (1912), George Wallace (1968), and H. Ross Perot (1992, 1996) are the three primary examples.
The corrupting effects of Obamacare.Feb 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 23 • By JAY COST
On February 4 the Congressional Budget Office dropped a bombshell. Analysts there found that Obamacare’s structure will create an enormous implicit tax on work, such that people on the lower end of the economic scale will have an incentive to quit their jobs or scale back to part time to maximize their premium subsidies. In an earlier study, CBO had estimated that this disincentive to work would destroy the equivalent of less than a million full-time jobs. Now, it projects that an equivalent of more than 2 million jobs will be lost as people voluntarily leave the workforce.
Feb 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 22 • By JAY COST
Last month, the House Republican leadership released its guiding principles on immigration reform. While mostly boilerplate, the document suggests that the House GOP envisions a bill similar to last year’s Senate compromise spearheaded by Marco Rubio: enhanced border security in exchange for legalization of the illegal immigrant population; more visas for the highly skilled and permits for temporary guest workers; and a rationalization of the immigration process.
Let’s redistribute power, not income.Feb 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 21 • By JAY COST
Barack Obama’s latest State of the Union address was a dreary, tiresome affair—which, to be fair, could be said of most such addresses by most modern presidents. The only real surprise was how he soft-pedaled the problem of inequality. Pre-speech hype had promised this would be the centerpiece theme, and it’s certainly one that has been a hobbyhorse of his Democratic party since its founding. But perhaps, on deeper reflection, we should not be so surprised that the word itself was only mentioned once.
Big government in bed with big insurance.Feb 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 20 • By JAY COST
Obamacare is like an onion: The more layers you peel back, the worse it smells. The latest revelation about this horrible law is the presence of a “risk corridor,” a euphemism for an insurance industry bailout that will occur sometime in the next year.
Hosted by Michael Graham5:15 PM, Dec 9, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with staff writer Jay Cost on his recent cover story, The Battle of 2014 on the political landscape for the 2014 elections.
With the midterm elections less than a year away, the terrain looks surprisingly favorable for Republicans Dec 16, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 14 • By JAY COST
Regularly scheduled elections are a hallmark of the American political system. In 18th-century Britain, the monarch could call new elections on a whim, and our Founders saw in that arrangement a seed of tyranny. The Constitution they designed requires elections for Congress every two years, and the next such elections are less than a year away. This is good news for conservatives as they continue to oppose the Obama administration.
Obamacare is not an aberration Dec 2, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 12 • By JAY COST
In The Price of Politics, journalist Bob Woodward describes the toll that politics took on the presidency and public image of Barack Obama during the budget battle of 2011. Elected as an outsider with little experience in governing and none in executive leadership, Woodward’s Obama is ill-equipped to handle the byzantine ways of Washington. The result is a tarnished president, a nation brought needlessly to the brink of credit default, and a sharp diminution of public trust.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:35 PM, Nov 20, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with staff writer Jay Cost on Obamacare's fate in the polls, and whether the Senate is in play for Republicans in 2014.
Will the GOP be ready?Nov 18, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10 • By JAY COST
The governorship of Virginia has been held by some of the most eminent men in American history: Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Edmund Randolph, Henry Lee, James Monroe. And now, Terry McAuliffe will sit in their chair. Depressing?
There’s no time to waste.Nov 4, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 08 • By JAY COST
The recent government shutdown illustrated a lot of political truths. For starters, people are unhappy when the government is shut down, and they naturally tend to blame the party of less government. The media instinctively help them conclude that the Republicans are at fault.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:05 PM, Oct 11, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with staff writer Jay Cost on the government shutdown and whether the GOP has a strategy to end it with a policy victory.
Oct 21, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 07 • By JAY COST
Earlier this month, California congressman George Miller took to the floor of the House of Represent-atives and, in a vitriolic speech, shouted that the Republicans were shutting down the government because of a “jihad” against Obama-care. Miller is a far-left liberal, but he is no backbencher. A 38-year veteran of the House, he is the ranking member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, serving as its chairman during the efforts to pass Obama-care.