- - Tuesday, May 22, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Democratic Party has no leader right now. No one.

Former President Barack Obama is palling around with his billionaire, island-owning buddies. Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders is kicking back in one of his three houses (we’re guessing the big one on Lake Champlain). And the 20-some 2020 presidential wannabes are all jockeying for media attention (and cash, lots of cash).

In such a void, that leaves just one person with the spotlight: the bitter, ever-angry, petty, vindictive Hillary Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton told the Democratic Women’s Leadership Forum on Friday that she would be a foundational part of the anti-Trump “resistance.” No, she didn’t ask whether anyone wanted her to be. “We have to win back the Congress,” she said. “I’ll be there with you every step of the way because we are going to take back the country we love.”

The whole speech sounded more like a threat than a promise. There she was, the 70-year-old two-time loser with the endless health problems pledging to lead the party, whether anyone wants her to or not.

Mrs. Clinton kept using the “we” word — and the present tense. “What do the Democrats stand for?” she asked. “We stand for truth, for evidence and facts,” she said. “We have kind of an affection for evidence. We think it should inform our policies, because they’ll actually work better.”

She didn’t mention President Trump by name, but she did say this: “We may have taken a little detour a year ago, but we’re back on the path of demonstrating unequivocally that our future is in diversity and inclusivity.”

Yeah, that “detour” was her getting crushed in the 2016 presidential election.

Some in the party still love her. Mrs. Clinton is being honored with a medal during Harvard University’s graduation week. And she was cheered as the commencement speaker at Yale last week, too, where she made a joke about Russia. At the graduation, Mrs. Clinton held up a Russian fur cap, saying, “I brought a hat too — a Russian hat. Look, I mean, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!”

Mrs. Clinton also admitted she drank plenty to drown her sorrows, saying “I had my fair share of chardonnay.” No wonder she falls down so much.

But this time, whether she sticks around may not be her choice. The New York Times on Monday wrote a devastating story about Hillary and her husband, Slick Willy, which paints a grim picture of how Democrats really feel about the onetime political dynasty.

The story pays homage to the couple, saying they were once “the most powerful brand in Democratic politics.” But the piece quickly veers another way, saying that neither Hillary nor Bill will play a big role in party politics for the 2018 midterm elections.

“Both have been far less conspicuous than in past election cycles, but for different reasons: Mrs. Clinton faces distrust on the left, where she is seen as an avatar of the Democratic establishment, and raw enmity on the right. Mr. Clinton has been largely sidelined amid new scrutiny of his past misconduct with women,” The Times said.

The paper of record also says the couple “reeks of the past and [Democrats] fear that their unpopularity with conservative-leaning and independent voters could harm Democrats in close races.” And the piece points out that not a single one of the four candidates running in a Democratic primary election for a Republican-held House seat in Little Rock, Arkansas — the couple’s former hometown — “has reached out to seek the Clintons’ support.”

“‘I see the Clintons as a liability,’ said Paul Spencer, a high school teacher running as a progressive in the Arkansas race. ‘They simply represent the old mind-set of a Democratic Party that is going to continue to lose elections.’”

In one last scathing indictment, The Times says, “Associates of Mrs. Clinton said she is aware of the political pressures that make her unwelcome in red states, and they do not expect her to charge into races where she is undesired.”

Mrs. Clinton says she’s not running in 2020, but we’ll see. She’d love another chance to knock off Mr. Trump. Still, the Democratic Party savagely kills its losers: Al Gore “won,” but the party didn’t back him four years later. John Kerry, too, lost by a whisker but didn’t get another chance.

Of course, we haven’t heard the last of her — there’s no sign that Mrs. Clinton plans on shutting up anytime soon. But her importance, her power to control the party and its message, is over.

And when The New York Times tells you you’re done, you’re done.

Maybe when Hillary sobers up, she’ll see the writing on the wall.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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