Now that Hillary Clinton no longer has a nonpartisan badass day job, the universe is reverting back to its natural state in which Clinton is a controversial figure with a complicated past and more than a few enemies as well as the symbol of some people's anxieties about women in power.
The excuses to engage in the old Hillary Clinton narratives today come in the form of a biopic titled Rodham, which shows the former secretary of state's early relationship with Bill Clinton in a not totally flattering light, and a report on her 2008 campaign aides by The Washington Post's Jason Horowitz, in which they cite reasons such as "PTSD" for not wanting to sign up for a 2016 redux. And that's from the parts of the political spectrum that tends to be friendliest to Clintons. On the right, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul unofficially kicked off his own 2016 campaign by saying in Iowa that Clinton's disqualified for the White House because of Benghazi, while a conservative Internet radio host said recently, "I'm supporting our troops by saying we need to try, convict, and shoot Hillary Clinton in the vagina."
The screenplay for Rodham, to be directed by James Ponsoldt, shows Bill Clinton as a crude womanizer and a young Hillary as "the valedictorian of the 'look-like-shit school of feminism.'" Sure, HIllary is the hero in the screenplay, set in 1974, when she's a young lawyer working on the congressional committee investigating Watergate, while Bill is starting his political career. It's filled with political cameos, as The New Republic's Michael Schaffer explains. Hero Hillary burns future defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, outs Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward as unable to tell the women on the committee apart, and tutors future labor secretary Robert Reich. She throws Bill Clinton's brother's bong. Nevertheless, Clinton has to choose between her own career and her Arkansas boyfriend. In the end, she is a woman who can't have it all. At least, not in 1974.
You might expect that Clinton's allies would be the ones saying her old 2008 team wouldn't be reunited for round two of chaos. But it's the ex-"A Team" that tells The Washington Post they're not coming back. Strategist Mark Penn, campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, communications director Howard Wolfson, and policy director Neera Tanden all say they're sticking with the lucrative careers they've set up since Clinton's loss. Yet most have made the compromises we associate with the Clintons. Wolfson, "once the driving force of the New York Democratic Party," now works for independent Michael Bloomberg. Penn works for Microsoft. Tanden heads the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. Solis Doyle runs a company helping businesses get money state governments owe them for contracts. Will things be different in 2016? "I think this is true of everybody who worked on that campaign, including her. You learn from your mistakes," Solis Doyle told the Post of Clinton. "If she should run again — and again I don’t know — I hope she does. I think she would learn from her mistakes."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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