For much of 2017, the line from Hillary Clinton’s conservative detractors was simple: she lost last year, so it’s incumbent on her to retreat from public life. No one, the argument went, wanted a failed presidential candidate to be a prominent voice on the major issues of the day. It was time for her to exit the stage.
Oddly enough, the argument recently flipped. Clinton’s detractors, after demanding her silence for months, have begun condemning her for not saying more about controversies such as the sexual assault allegations surrounding Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Suddenly, everyone wants the failed presidential candidate to be a prominent voice on a major issue of the day.
So, Clinton issued a statement yesterday expressing her disgust with Weinstein, prompting Republicans to complain that she didn’t speak out quickly enough.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon to blast Hillary Clinton over her slow pace to condemn Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual abuses.
“It took Hillary abt 5 minutes to blame NRA for madman’s rampage, but 5 days to sorta-kinda blame Harvey Weinstein 4 his sexually assaults,” Conway wrote on Twitter.
It was one of several Clinton-centric tweets the White House adviser published yesterday afternoon.
I suppose the obvious response to this is to focus on Conway’s audacious hypocrisy, working for Donald Trump – a man who was repeatedly accused of sexual assault – while criticizing Clinton for not issuing a statement condemning Weinstein at a speed Conway considers acceptable.
But what I found even more bizarre is the fact that Conway is focused on Clinton at all. The election, after all, was 11 months ago, and Clinton isn’t running again. Why would White House officials care whether (and when) a former secretary of state issued a statement criticizing a Hollywood producer? Why not look past the candidate they defeated nearly a year ago?
The answer, of course, is that Hillary Clinton has apparently taken up permanent residence in Trump World’s head.
This goes well beyond Kellyanne Conway. At a presidential rally in Alabama a few weeks ago, Donald Trump spent a fair amount of time going after Clinton, claiming she would’ve eliminated the Second Amendment, and critiquing the Democrat’s 2016 campaign tactics.
“If Hillary runs again in four years, which I hope she does, we’re going to teach her to spend more time in Michigan,” the president said. “We’re going to teach her to go to Wisconsin. We’re going to teach her to spend a little more capability in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, which she lost, and she actually spent a tremendous amount of money.”
After the crowd began chanting, “Lock her up!” he responded that Republicans should “talk to” Attorney General Jeff Sessions “about that.”
There’s no point to any of this. Trying to undermine Clinton’s standing for sport serves no practical purpose.
What’s more, none of this is normal. A year after a national election, Americans do not usually see a president and his team consumed with the candidate they defeated. But in this case, it’s hard not to get the impression that Trump’s presidency isn’t going well, so he and his team prefer to roll back the clock and pretend it’s still 2016 – when they were having fun and didn’t have to worry about all the pesky burdens of governing.
Clinton, meanwhile, is a private citizen who’s been out of government since 2012. The sooner her formal rivals can abandon their obsession with her, the better.