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Not Ready for "Clintitlement"

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

After thousands of written words and hundreds of hours of cable commentary focused on Hillary Clinton’s email woes, it all boils down to one basic takeaway. The Clintons have an unmatched talent, an uncanny ability, to find themselves in endless scandals, many of them their own making, most the result of setting their own rules, and all of which raise questions about their judgment and trustworthiness.


But with Hillary’s campaign kick-off imminent, it’s clear the usual political vernacular just isn’t up to the task of explaining the latest scandals revolving around Clinton Foundation funding and Mrs. Clinton’s penchant for email secrecy. No, we have reached a point where the rarefied political air in which the Clintons operate has truly earned its own term of art: “Clintitlement,” defined as “an inflated sense of privilege that results in a self-generated set of rules applicable only to oneself.” In the Clinton’s case, this singular attitude also puts voters’ faith in them to do the right thing at risk.

To be clear, Secretary Clinton’s mishandling of her email will not singlehandedly prevent her from being elected the first woman president of our country, though it ought to greatly concern her campaign strategists as she approaches her highly anticipated presidential bid.

For many Americans, the last three weeks have felt a lot like déjà vu all over again. The Clintons are now and always have been mega magnets for drama, whether it was Whitewater or missing billing records, cattle futures or travelgate, pardons, Monica, or dubious fundraising in and out of the White House. Yet, they are in a class that sets them apart from your average or even celebrated politician, in large part, because they always seem to survive. Counted out prematurely many times in the past, the Clintons have weathered more than a few storms over the years, but it’s becoming evident that their perpetual rebounds have come at a cost.


While Barack Obama proved to be a far better campaigner and ran an extraordinary primary campaign, in losing the nomination, Hillary Clinton also paid the price of past questionable behavior. Democrats simply got tired of having to make excuses for two decades of mistakes and missteps. President Obama’s team masterfully tapped into Democratic voters’ willingness and desire to move beyond the Clintons’ perpetual run-ins with the truth if not the law.

With polls already beginning to soften for the former Secretary of State, we may already be heading to that same point today and she doesn’t seem to be handling the questions chipping away at her public image any better. No lessons learned, apparently, for a candidate who seems uniquely uninterested in campaigning. You can almost hear her impatience: “Why should I have to go through this tedious process with voters again when clearly, I’m ready to govern?”

Get past Secretary Clinton’s carefully crafted public façade and deep down, beats the heart of a lawyer forced by circumstances and ambition to be something she isn’t – an effective candidate.

When she marched into the UN media room to discuss her emails, she parsed her language like a pro, like a lawyer, carefully weaving an explanatory tale but succeeding only in raising with voters all the questions of trust and honesty that have dogged the Clintons for 25 years of public life. In a press conference that lasted only 10 minutes, Hillary undermined her prospective second candidacy to win the White House with a remarkable lack of candor or believability.


Before Democrats make an all or nothing bet on Secretary Clinton’s presidential prospects, they must ask themselves, “Do we really want to spend the next 20 months embroiled in one Clinton self-inflicted drama after another? Or is it time for a fresh face?” Democrats turned away from Hillary Clinton in 2008, in part, to avoid the morass called “Clintitlement.” What makes them think general election voters will feel differently in 2016?


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