Hillary’s Hubris: Whose Party Is It Anyway?

by Bob Schwartz

Who is the leader, the face, the identity of the Democratic Party? Simple: President Barack Obama. Who else?

If you ask Hillary Clinton’s supporters, or at least listen carefully to what they say, she is the party. And therein lies her biggest problem, at least among some number of Democrats.

No major party has, at least in modern times, had anyone other than a sitting President be the undisputed presumptive leader and face of the party, such that when the time came to pick a new nominee, it was a foregone conclusion. At least not one with a relatively modest record of public service. But that is exactly what is happening. Not once but now twice.

Politico reports on a dinner of high level Hillary donors at which they spoke their minds, particularly about Joe Biden:

The prospect of the grieving vice president’s potential entry into the race was a subject that obsessed the group over dinner, where many worried he will fracture the party….

“I’m concerned that the first bumpy road she hits – and there’s a man ready to knock her out, I’ve seen this before,” said Kounalakis, a close Clinton ally who is hosting a fundraiser in San Francisco for Clinton in November, and is viewed as potentially a major donor in 2016. “I’m worried we’re not accustomed to having a woman candidate at this level, and we don’t have the language to fight sexist attacks.”

Buell, who over the past 10 years has given $25 million to progressive groups and candidates, shook her head at the prospect of a Biden candidacy.

“Why would he want to go out on such a negative?” she asked her friends.

You have to read that carefully to dig out the premises or promises. Which are:

1. Hillary Clinton is the party, and whoever and whatever seriously stands in her way or questions her will “fracture the party.” That is, will disrupt her otherwise unstoppable opportunity.

2. Standing in her way is a negative act. Or, as noted in an earlier post, “Why would he want to go out on such a negative?” is one of the thinly veiled promises that if Biden proceeds to “fracture the party” he will learn just what negative means, and he will have to take his political lumps for doing so. Maybe lots of powerful money-fueled lumps.

Hubris is the sort of extreme and undeserved pride and self-confidence that offends the gods, and is usually punished by them. The gods don’t really care what happens in the byzantine and self-serving ways of American politics. But in the case of Hillary Clinton, a lot of Democrats do. They don’t want to be told that their preference for some other candidate, or their antipathy towards Hillary, is the shameful path toward splitting a noble party, or is disloyalty tantamount to treason. And you know what we do with traitors.

So maybe it isn’t Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden that are actually threatening to fracture the Democratic Party. Maybe the hubris of a particular candidate will do that all by itself.

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