To adapt a phrase from author Booth Tarkington’s 1918 novel, The Magnificent Ambersons: “Something had happened, a thing which years ago had been the eagerest hope of many, many good citizens … And now it came at last: Hillary Rodham Clinton had got her comeuppance. She’d got it three times filled and running over.” The cause of her comeuppance? A little old senator from Vermont: Bernie Sanders. His weapon? Mockery.
Sanders wields his weapon as an exquisitely sharp needle, constantly puncturing Hillary’s ego balloons.
Vox.com says Sanders’ favorite joke is about Hillary’s speaking fees on Wall Street.
Sanders’ joke: “I am going to release all of the transcripts of the speeches that I gave on Wall Street behind closed doors.” [comedic pause] “There were no speeches.”
That got Sanders big laughs at last Thursday night’s debate.
Even Samantha Bee’s mocking Hillary now. Her latest commercial for TBS has a clip of Hillary at an event saying she never imagined she would be asking people to vote for her as president. Bee laughs and uses the f-word. (Seems TBS has realized there’s a limited audience for a show that limits itself to alternatively bashing Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.)
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports how it takes guts to support Hillary at Columbia University in Manhattan, complete with an image of a t-shirt proclaiming, “dare to say the C WORD … CLINTON.”
At the same time, Bill Clinton is having a tough slog as he campaigns for his wife. Bill’s facing taunts from Sanders supporters, the Black Lives Matter crowd, a veteran protesting about Hillary’s handling of the Benghazi murders of American embassy personnel, and so on.
Poor Bill. I expect he yearns for the simpler pre-Monica Lewinsky days in the 1990s, when it was all about him, his folksiness, and saxophone. Back then, any gaffes by Mr. or Mrs. Clinton were rebutted in mere seconds by his media operatives, Paul Begala and James Carville, who were loyal to the core while taking nastiness to a new level.
And therein lies Hillary and Bill’s problem. Begala’s appearances are few and Carville appears to have retired from the political scene. Thus, when Sanders pops yet another Hillary balloon, or Bill gets dissed in public, they have no one to zip out a vicious tweet or make a “breaking news” comment on CNN.
Or to put it another way, Begala and Carville were the invulnerable fortress around the Clintons.
Now, despite her well-funded campaign staff, Hillary and Bill are alone on the political stage for the first time in their lives, and it shows.
Meanwhile, Sanders has found a gaping (and unprotected) hole in the Clintons’ fortress and relentlessly presses on. Will the young people who flock to the Sanders events vote for Hillary in November? I doubt it. She’s a scold, and scolds do not inspire passion.
Living in the Philadelphia media market, I see the Sanders and Clinton TV ads constantly. His ads are great: simple and direct, with Sanders’ voiceover sounding sensible, and ending with Sanders looking at you eyeball-to-eyeball. Hillary’s seem scripted from a ten-year-old manual about making campaign ads. And her sharp scolding voice is a minus.
My bottom line: no matter who wins the White House, I believe 2016 will go down in history as the year Hillary Clinton got her comeuppance at last – with Bill thrown in for good measure.
Photo by @HuffingtonPost
Joanne Butler was a professional staff member at the US House Ways & Means Committee; issues included trade and Social Security. In the Bush Administration's Labor Department, she was a senior advisor to an assistant secretary, handling a wide range of issues from speechwriting to program quality control. She has a graduate degree from the Kennedy School at Harvard University, with a concentration in economics and international finance.