A Hillary Hangover?
12:28 PM, Jun 9, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
If the mainstream media have their way—and to the degree they can prevent the continued groundswell of outrage about the Bergdahl/Taliban deal from interrupting the party—this week will be all Hillary, all the time. But will the party be good for Hillary? Or will we end up with a Hillary hangover?
I'm betting on the latter. After all, her book seems to say nothing interesting or surprising, and she seems determined to say nothing interesting or surprising. It's going to be a big bore.
So will it all be a big nothing-burger? Maybe. But I wonder if this week could be high water mark of the Hillary campaign, and if it could be all downhill from here. I even wonder if the downhill pace could be so fast that she decides next year not to run.
Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But consider this possibility. Hillary has entered a risky zone. She's a celebrity. That's great as long as you can pull it off, being famous for being famous, people talking about you even if you're not doing much of anything. But celebrityhood can also fade pretty fast. People can get bored with someone who's famous for being famous. It can occur to them that that person isn't saying anything particularly interesting or doing anything particularly notable.
Obviously the hype will generate big book sales at first, and maybe a few additional TV viewers. But I'm doubtful this can be sustained. And when the next month is finished, Hillary won't be back where she began. Hype followed by letdown, puffery followed by debunking, doesn't restore you to the position you occupied before, when there was anticipation in the air. High expectations and over-exposure aren't a recipe for success. You end up deflated, worse off.
Here's one way to judge my suspicion that the next month or two may hurt Hillary. The Washington Post published the results of a recent poll showing Hillary with 69 percent support among Democrats for that party's 2016 nomination, and defeating Chris Christie and Jeb Bush in general election match-ups by 53 percent to 41 percent. The test is simple. Two months from now, after all the hoopla, will Clinton's poll results be stronger or weaker? I'll take the contrarian position that Hillary will be weaker then than now.
One reason, incidentally, that I think she'll be weaker is this: Everyone's focused on all the free publicity Hillary will receive from the book and the book tour. But she's also, for the first time in over a year, providing a target for criticism—not just for sniping, but for sustained, well-researched criticism. See, for example, Joel Winton's cover story on Hillary on Iran in the last issue, or Noah Pollak on Hillary on Israel, posted last night. Her critics can now launch substantive criticisms of her record, as well as pointing out how she misrepresents her record in the book and interviews.
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