Before I say what I’m about to say about the town-hall meeting where Hillary Clinton made not-so-big news by endorsing Joe Biden for president, I would note that I was a supporter and occasional collaborator in the Clinton family political enterprise going back to the 1980s. I adore this woman who, by all rights, should have been the 45th president. She has done more for her country by herself on her worst days than the man she beat handily in the popular vote has managed to do during his entire presidency, with all the resources of the federal government at his disposal. And she should be regarded as a living saint for the crap she endured during her husband’s presidency, and given a few more crowns in heaven for enduring the deranged taunts of Benghazi-obsessed Republican congressmen and the twisted desire of MAGA folk to “lock her up.”
Having said all that, as a patriot I hope HRC can come to see that she should stay far, far away from the 2020 campaign, where she can only serve as a distraction nobody needs. Democrats have already spent too much time analyzing, over-analyzing, and mis-analyzing what happened in 2016. They will never, until the end of time, definitively figure it all out. But the fear of repeating the mistakes of four years ago has made those laboring to eject Donald Trump from the White House deeply neurotic and unaccountably pessimistic. Other than avoiding the overconfidence that probably afflicted the Clinton-Kaine campaign more than any concrete misstep, Team Biden would best be advised not to dwell on 2016 more than is necessary. Whatever minimal overlap between the two election years that once existed was likely obliterated by COVID-19 and the economic collapse it triggered.
Searching for a rationale for the Clinton-Biden endorsement event, NPR offered this comment:
[F]or all her remaining goodwill among Democrats, Clinton remains a polarizing figure, with many blaming her numerous political missteps and moderate voting record for failing to inspire a more robust turnout in the 2016 race.
Still, Clinton’s endorsement could help consolidate Democrats around Biden, who faces many of the same criticisms weathered by Clinton in her White House pursuit.
No, it won’t help consolidate Democrats around Biden. As NPR implicitly acknowledges in the same sentence, those who dislike Biden tend to doubly dislike Clinton.
More generally, I do not understand why Joe Biden is so preoccupied with gathering formal endorsements from the Democratic warhorses everyone assumes have long been in his camp. Yes, an Obama endorsement made sense in that it has been an implicit talking point throughout the campaign that he’s Barack’s favorite. It was important to get Bernie Sanders’s formal support as quickly as possible after Bernie folded his campaign. Other progressive endorsements like Elizabeth Warren’s had some value, too. But Nancy Pelosi? Hillary Clinton? There are dozens of other prominent women available to offer support, if that’s the issue. But the candidate of the Democratic Establishment doesn’t need to prove he is the candidate of the Democratic Establishment.
Trump, of course, wants nothing more than a rematch, and he and his unscrupulous backers will be happy to let Biden identify himself with HRC all day long. Democrats have rightly laughed as Republican flacks pretended Clinton was a viable 2020 dark horse, or that she was somehow still the shadowy wizard behind the screen, manipulating her party in close cooperation with George Soros and the ghost of Saul Alinsky. So what is she doing holding a major event with her successor as presidential nominee? Is Mike Dukakis in the wings? Walter Mondale? They are about as relevant to the 2020 campaign as Clinton.
Though Clinton’s campaign resulted in the least expected and most calamitous Democratic defeat ever, she will be vindicated by history, and if Joe Biden is safely installed in the White House, he will surely consult her and perhaps give her some significant role in the new administration, if that’s what she wants. Until Election Day, though, she should do charity work, write another book, or just enjoy the retirement she has richly earned.