Hillary Clinton’s book is out. Democrats are not pleased about relitigating the 2016 election, having to endure the pain of those wounds, which have yet to heal, that have been reopened with this book, and having to suffer through weeks more coverage of why their party sucks. Hillary Clinton’s What Happened is the story of a two-time presidential loser and her thoughts about a failing campaign. It’s also been seen as a way to deliver jabs to Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, James Comey, and anyone else who she feels torpedoed her electoral chances. Hillary does make a point that the Democratic Party should steer clear of Bernie Sanders, who she feels does not have the party’s interests at heart. Yet, that warning could be having the opposite effect. On CNN’s Inside Politics, John King was noting that Clinton, for all her faults, has the right to author a book, despite the Democratic eyerolls, and she’s a person who still has one of the most impressive resumes in the party.
As The Democratic Party is left without a leader, message, or agenda, this debate about rebranding to win next time is commonplace. King was asking Politico’s Eliana Johnson if the former first lady is having an impact on the discussion, which Johnson agreed. Clinton is having an impact insofar as all of the rising talent is heading for the hills (via CNN) [emphasis mine]:
JOHN KING: If that's what happens then, then things starts to go back-and- forth which is the defining question for the party. Can the Democrats keep moving left?
When I started in this business, it was right after Walter Mondale lost 49 states. Then Michael Dukakis, my first campaign, lost 40.
The whole thing was the Democrats are too liberal. You can't... sell that out there in America. That's where Bill Clinton came from, running against his own party; too close to the unions, too anti-business, too liberal, government can do everything. Won two terms as president.
Forget about it. Gone.
But can - is this a conversation that can become a national winning strategy?
And to your point is we have the conversation, show the scroll of these Democrats who backed Bernie Sanders, who are still an Independent, a lot of them are potential 2020 candidates; if not in 2020 some of them are - if they - if you don't if you don't see them in 2020 you're maybe going to see them in 2024. That's an impressive group of people.
KING: You know, whatever your politics, the 'Bernie Sanders' is winning.
ELIANA JOHNSON: Well I mean. You asked about are we ever going to stop talking about 2016? I'm not sure we ever are and I think this may be as much a reaction to what happened in 2016 as anything else. I mean the Democrats chose Hillary Clinton, she was more middle-of-the-road, she was more in the traditional mold of a Democratic candidate.
And Bernie Sanders was speaking to this group of people that really believe that this isn't working, the way that politics is - our party doesn't represent what we believe anymore. The same sorts of people that Donald Trump were talking to from the Republican side and I think there's a real rethinking right now of what needs to happen in order for Democrats to be successful in the next election and much of it is about you know, Independents coming over perhaps to this idea of single-payer.
I think it's also a real tack to the left, it's a - it's a - it seems to be a concerted effort to see if they can't be more successful by embracing those ideas and really embracing the dissatisfaction really with the Affordable Care Act which started on the road to doing what Democrats have always wanted to do with healthcare but didn't quite get there and is now not as popular.
So, they want to see if they can perhaps rebrand the party around a different approach.
KING: And is - and is Hillary Clinton helping hurting -- making any impact on this conversation? You see some Democrats saying you know, "Oh, why is she out there?"
She wrote a book. She has every right and reason to be out there. She has the -still has the most impressive resume in the Democratic Party.
JOHNSON: I think she's propelling this conversation and she is - she is compelling a lot of Democrats to move away from her and she's giving Bernie Sanders and the Cory Bookers, the rising stars really in the party to move away from her.
Yet, Johnson also made the note that the GOP’s lines of fracture are showing with the immigration fight and what to do with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.