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Terry H. Schwadron

Oct. 20, 2019

Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t it time for Hillary Clinton to step back from the fray?

Rather than jumping in with unasked political commentary that mostly suggest she would have been a better president, or occasionally floating the notion that she could be drafted to run again or offering rude remarks about fellow Democrats, wouldn’t it be better if she could serve as a wise, quiet elder to others about things they might face?

Over just the last week or so, Hillary has been back on the various talk shows with daughter Chelsea to promote a book on resilient women, her email scandals have been raised anew by a State Department review that years later basically found little seriously wrong but criticized 38 former State employees, and popped off on a podcast about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who was not named, being groomed as a Russian asset to ruin another Democrat’s day as a third-party candidate.

Has Hillary forgotten that she lost the election three years ago, and that we have moved on?

There is something in our society about having to regard people we seek to hire as government managers, even presidents, as something more than workers. We regard these “leaders” as having sway over our culture and values as well as managing our public monies and conducting foreign affairs.

Perhaps Donald Trump will cure us of such lofty ideals from the Oval Office, since he has been so trashing these values.

But Hillary sees herself of the pre-Trump world, in which her own self-worth is to be matched by an ultimate deference to her insistence on the righteousness of her views.

I think Hillary does have a lot to offer the country and particularly to many of the 20-plus Democratic presidential candidates who seem shy of foreign experience and expertise. But to me, this is a lot more in the mode of a Madeleine Albright making herself available as an adviser about foreign policy and context than it does as a would-be candidate who seems to be treating herself as a victim of Russian plots.

I found myself cringing this week with news of the dual Clinton authors at a Sunday Times of London interview at which Hillary was slow to acknowledge transgender identity. The mother-daughter duo were asked if someone with a beard and penis can ever identify as female: Chelsea said yes, and Hillary, well, Hillary said it would take a lot more time for her to be comfortable with transgenders.

And I found myself cringing again as Hillary attacked Gabbard, even though I find Gabbard pretty well outside my own ideas of good leadership.

As a result, we have Gabbard, a Hindu Hawaiian congresswoman who is a major in the Army National Guard, stepping up to fling mud back at Clinton as “queen of warmongers,” the source of rot within the Democratic Party, and blaming Clinton for orchestrating recent smears against her in the mainstream media.

Nice. This ought to help Democrats in the 2020 election.

Clinton was clear that 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was promoted as a third-party candidate by Russians interested drawing votes away from Clinton, making Trump’s victory more possible (Stein says, no way). Now, she says, the Russians are eyeing Gabbard much in the same manner.

For sure, Gabbard is an odd duck among the Democratic candidates. She has visited Syrian President Hassan Assad, for example, rather than the more accepted view of seeing him as a sworn enemy. As a military person, she is the most vocal about avoiding international conflicts, and is dead-set against what she sees as regime change.

Curiously, as The New York Times has reported, among others, Gabbard has drawn a more-than-casual number of positive mentions from white nationalists, anti-Semites, and Russians. The Times had reported that 4chan, the notoriously toxic online message board, where some right-wing trolls and anti-Semites fawn over Gabbard, praising her willingness to criticize Israel. In April, the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, took credit for Gabbard’s qualification for the first two Democratic primary debates. Brian Levin, the head of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino, said Ms. Gabbard had “the seal of approval” within white nationalist circles.

Still, Gabbard hovers around 2% of support in public polls.

But it hardly seems up to Hillary Clinton to decide who will be the Democrat to face Trump or a variety of other pressing problems.


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