Hillary Clinton can't catch a break. It seems as if she has no friends left. Okay, two – Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem. It was Ms. Albright who told a crowd in New Hampshire: "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other!"
That place must be getting pretty crowded. Women aren't buying the gender pitch these days. That was so 2008. In New Hampshire, most female Democrats stampeded to vote for a 74-year-old man. Hillary leaves millennial women especially cold. We have Gloria Steinem to explain why: They think the Bernie Sanders campaign is a better place to meet men! Even women of Hillary's vintage have grown weary of her. Gail Sheehy, a tireless chronicler of the liberal female boomer psyche, wrote a devastating piece in The New York Times last month describing their disillusion. Hillary, they fear, is not authentic. She's too entrenched in the establishment. She's not trustworthy. She stonewalls. She lies.
And that's her base talking. Imagine how the rest of America feels.
Something else has changed. For decades, Ms. Clinton could count on sympathetic treatment from the mainstream liberal media – even when her husband was in trouble. No more. Now the most influential newspapers in the country are outdoing each other to turn a spotlight on the murky workings of the mighty Bill and Hillary money machine – the greatest political machine in the history of the Western world. "Foreign governments gave millions to foundation while Clinton was at State Dept.," blared the Washington Post. "Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal," trumpeted The New York Times. "Hillary helps a bank – and then it funnels millions to the Clintons" explained Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic.
Bill and Hillary's Clinton Foundation raises billions from corporations and foreign governments for good works. Donors are happy to oblige because, as commentator Walter Russell Mead wrote, they think they're buying "influence and face time with two of the most powerful people in the world" – including the next president of the United States. The foundation directly or indirectly employs a permanent network of supporters who are dedicated to the welfare of the Clintons. The Clintons themselves have personally reaped millions of dollars for speechifying to companies that would like to stay on their good side. The whole arrangement is cozy, legal, and odoriferous. Mr. Mead calls it "honest graft."
The Clintons – along with the Republican establishment – have perfected a brand of big-money political-corporate relationships that have transformed U.S. politics into a self-perpetuating oligarchy of entrenched interests. Americans across the spectrum have had enough. That's why they're flocking to Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
Ms. Clinton styles herself as an open and transparent champion of the underdog. But she won't release a copy of a recent speech to Goldman Sachs (her fee: $225,000). That's because, according to someone who was there, it was a paean to the virtues of and wisdom of Goldman Sachs. Now she's heading off to South Carolina, where she intends to style herself as practically a founding member of Black Lives Matter.
People aren't stupid. They see someone with no core. They see an opportunist who will say whatever she needs to say whenever she needs to say it.
Ms. Clinton has always blamed her troubles on outsiders – Republicans, enemies, people who want to get her. It's not working any more. The kerfuffle over her private e-mail server has sparked investigations by both the State Department and the FBI. Now the State Department has launched an inquiry into the doings of the foundation. Supporters wish she'd just 'fess up to her mistakes. But that's not her style.
I can't remember when the front-runner for the Democratic nomination was saddled with so much baggage – or when the mainstream media had turned so sour. Still, Ms. Clinton has the nomination sewn up. Her ace in the hole is the Republicans. It's likely that their candidate will be truly terrifying.
If Mitt Romney were running against Hillary, he'd probably win in a walk. Instead we've got a bunch of crazies. Ted Cruz? Donald Trump? If either of them gets the nomination you'd better build a bomb shelter. Marco Rubio is an anti-abortion fundamentalist with some of the charm but none of the smarts of a young Barack Obama. Jeb Bush is a washout. John Kasich? A reasonable guy, as far as I can tell. Too bad nobody's heard of him.
So that's the way it's stacking up. Hillary is the most depressing Democratic contender in decades. And I desperately hope she wins.