Sunday, December 2, 2018
Billary: Between Two Ferns
I'm so glad Bill and Hillary saved this farewell tour for after the midterms, otherwise they would have dragged the Democrats down with their pompous display of hubris. I guess they think we still owe them something, but judging from the prices who can afford to go to these events except rich bankers and NYTimes columnists like Maureen Dowd, who gave her two cents on the inaugural show in Toronto.
They were greeted by rows of empty seats with those few who came herded up front to make it look like they had an audience. Given how few came, they could meet and greet virtually everyone there. Maybe they will get a bigger crowd at the Beacon Theater in their hometown New York next April. I doubt the Sugarland crowd in Texas will be anymore welcoming than the Canadians for their final gig of the year.
What really has to gall the Clintons is that Michelle Obama is packing in crowds for her book tour, selling more copies in 15 days than Hillary was able to sell all together of her Living History. Michelle's book deal was a staggering $65 million, which goes a long way toward Barack's Presidential Library in Chicago. Safe to say the Clintons are now thoroughly eclipsed by the Obamas.
You would never know it to hear Bill and Hillary talk. They riffed on everything from Trump's cover-up of the Khashoggi killing to the ugly trade war between the US and Canada, which has abated somewhat after Trump finally managed to sign a North American trade agreement with Trudeau and Nieto at the eleventh hour. Steel and aluminum tariffs remain, however, and so tensions remain. Of course Bill and/or Hillary would have handled things much better, even if it was his NAFTA deal that drug Hillary down in the Rust Belt, where she lost the election to Trump.
The problem with the Clintons is that they will never come clean. They will never admit to their shortcomings. They will always think that what they did was best for the country. Bill even commissioned Sidney Blumenthal to write a biography that essentially exonerated him from all the misdeeds Republicans accused him of. Not that it did any good.
Bill's numerous missteps not only brought Al Gore down in 2000, but undermined Hillary's campaigns in 2008 and 2016. It wasn't like the Monica Lewinsky affair was any big deal, but the way he lied before finally having to admit to it before a national audience brought great shame not only on himself but everyone associated with him, as they defended him throughout this tawdry affair. Ultimately, the only thing that saved him were the Republicans hammering him too hard. Public opinion slowly shifted in his favor after the even uglier impeachment trial.
Hillary got her chance to move out of the shadow of her husband when she won a New York Senate seat in 2000. This was her chance to remake herself anew, but the Senate wasn't big enough for Hillary. She wanted to be the first woman president and so threw all her might into the 2008 campaign, only to find herself upstaged by the younger, far more charismatic Barack Obama, who also knew how to run a much smarter campaign.
I don't think Hillary ever really got over this loss. Fate had dealt her an ugly blow, much like the women's suffrage movement of the 1860s had to wait while black men got the right to vote with the 15th amendment. Hillary is the Elizabeth Cady Stanton of our times.
She can blame her husband who went after Barack early in the 2008 campaign and ultimately cost her the nomination with his unwanted remarks. Obama seized on these statements, turning the primaries in his favor. But, it was the loss of superdelegates that really hurt Hillary, as the Democratic establishment lost confidence in her. From there it was all downhill.
When the luster wore off Obama, the Clintons saw an opportunity to remake themselves. Hillary stepped down as Secretary of State, and wrote another self-portrait. For awhile she was the most popular Democratic figure. Book sales soared. She was running high in the polls. Bill was back on the campaign trail promoting young Democratic candidates in the 2014 midterms. They were setting the stage for another run in 2016. But, Bill's chosen candidates lost and Hillary was being drug through the mud over Benghazi. The Republicans had gotten the jump on 2016, and there wasn't much Billary could do to turn the tide.
Still there was hope when the Republicans selected Donald J. Trump as their nominee. Who would vote for a shiftless rat like this? Seems the American public was willing to take a "roll of the dice" with Trump as they had with Obama, leaving the Clintons out in the cold once again.
Now we have Bill and Hillary imagining all the what ifs, as they take in 13 North American cities. The sad part is that they still haven't ruled out another run. According to Dowd, "her consigliere, Philippe Reines, has prodded reporters on including her name when they write about 2020 candidates."
They want to rewrite the ending to the Clinton legacy just like the Underwoods in House of Cards. After all, Frank and Claire were pretty much modeled on the Clintons, but like the Clintons they too had to finally submit to television ratings. There simply isn't that much interest anymore.
We have new potential women candidates for president, namely Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, who are garnering a lot of attention. Then there's this guy down in Texas who generated a huge grass roots campaign that garnered him 47% of the vote in a deep red state. Imagine what Beto can do on a national stage?
The Democratic Party is moving on from the Clintons and maybe the Obamas as well. A new generation is emerging that is hoping to flush out the old guard and return the party to its more liberal roots, which Bill and Hillary were never that comfortable to begin with.
They still have their supporters, but they look like the folks from Springfield Retirement Castle. Bill and Hillary may be many things, but they are not the Rolling Stones, who can still command an arena audience well past 70.
Bill and Hillary would have been much wiser to have booked smaller venues. A full room, even if it is no more than a hundred, looks much better than all those empty seats in an arena. This is the image all the newspapers are picking up on this weekend.
Better yet, they should have joined Zach Galifianakis Between Two Ferns, which is what their set looked like. On second thought, that didn't work out too well either.