I’ve seen hungry hawks swoop down on their prey with less alacrity than likely 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul descended upon Hillary Clinton last night. Senator Paul moved so fast that it was difficult to follow him with the naked eye. There was just a whoosh, some sparks of stray lightning left crackling in the air, and BOOM – we had a Twitter hashtag called #HillarysLosers, complete with a photo album of the forlorn candidates Madame Clinton unsuccessfully championed.
“Tuesday’s biggest loser is Hillary Clinton,” Paul declared… a point former Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas or Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis might dispute. But they’re the past, and Paul has his eyes shrewdly focused upon the future, where a grim pantsuit looms.
To mix sartorial metaphors a bit, that pantsuit doesn’t seem to have any coattails. The Clintons’ home state of Arkansas is now a Republican bastion – the GOP holds every single congressional seat from the state, for the first time in 141 years, plus the governorship and every other statewide race; as the Washington Post notes, there was only one Arkansas Republican in Congress in 2010. It’s remarkable, as Senator Paul emphasizes, that just about every major candidate the Clintons endorsed in the 2014 race went down, including all the names that made it into national political headlines: Michelle Nunn of Georgia, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Allison Grimes of Kentucky. Hillary’s identity-politics credibility must have taken a big hit when the female candidates she endorsed lost, while the winning women of the night were all Republicans.
“Mrs. Grimes ran as a Clinton Democrat,” Paul observed of the wipeout in his own state, where it’s already difficult to remember that Grimes was once portrayed as a serious contender, drawing a huge amount of financial support from liberal interests outside the state. “She tried to attach herself to Hillary Clinton, but it turns out Hillary Clinton doesn’t have any coattails in Kentucky.”
In a Fox News interview, Paul portrayed the Republican victory in the Senate as “a repudiation basically of the President’s policies but also Hillary Clinton… Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton have been all over the place. They’re trying to make it out as if they’re somehow better for Democrats. Well, in Kentucky, they were soundly rejected.”
For good measure, Paul dashed off an email to Breitbart News suggesting that “Somebody should ask Hillary Democrats why they got wiped out tonight… Clearly, Hillary is yesterday’s news.”
He also took to trolling the Clintons on Twitter:
??? Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) November 5, 2014
He’s referring to the book tour in which Hillary Clinton declared herself “dead broke” because she only had two mansions and seven figures in the bank after Bill left the White House. Sick burn, Senator Paul!
This is very smart politics, for several reasons. There’s little profit to be gained from using the post-election afterglow to beat up President Obama; he’s yesterday’s news, his approval ratings couldn’t get much lower, and he’ll never be on the ballot again. Hillary is going to run as the centrist technocrat who can rescue the Democrat Party from Obamaism, so 2016 Republican hopefuls who pummel Obama are playing into her campaign narrative. Her friends in the media will try to cleanse her of all association with the Obama disaster (a service they will find much more difficult to perform than they think.) It’s more profitable to talk about how Hillary got clobbered on Tuesday night than to dwell on an association with Obama that voters are going to make on their own anyway. Everybody knows Obama said the 2014 elections would be all about him (and now says they absolutely weren’t) but they could stand to see photos of Hillary campaigning for the losers a few more times.
Also, there’s going to be a lot of concern among Republicans about how Hillary’s identity-politics shield will protect her from tough Republican criticism. Paul is demonstrating that he doesn’t buy into that theory. He is prescient to realize that Republican women put the exhausted “War on Women” campaign meme out of its misery last night.
Paul returned to Fox News on Wednesday to discuss his “pivot to Hillary Clinton”:
The Senator called shenanigans on the attempt to portray the Democrat Part as having distinct Clinton and Obama wings. “I think most voters don’t think there’s much difference between being a Clinton Democrat and an Obama Democrat,” he said. “If you look at their policies down the line, they’re pretty much well in line with each other, on almost every major issue of the day. And when they’ve thought, ‘we could bring in a Clinton,’ and that would somehow convince southern Democrats that there is still a conservative nature to the national party, that was rejected wholesale yesterday.”
ObamaCare really should have killed off the myth of the “conservative Democrat,” and for that matter the pretense of “moderate Democrats”; there is nothing even remotely moderate about that Constitution-shredding disaster, from the way it was passed to the manner in which it has been implemented. Do you suppose Rand Paul remembers that Hillary Clinton’s idea of health care reform was even more radical, and even more doomed to failure? I’ll bet he does, and will miss no opportunity to remind voters in 2016.