Yesteday, Hillary Clinton announced that she opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership:
Hillary Clinton announced her opposition Wednesday to the Pacific Rim trade deal, breaking with President Obama in another move to the left for her presidential campaign.
The front-runner for the Democratic nomination gave Obama a heads-up of her opposition before announcing she’d oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in an interview with PBS “NewsHour” host Judy Woodruff.
“What I know about it, as of today I’m not in favor of what I’ve learned about it,” Clinton said in the interview.
In a statement, she elaborated, saying that based on what she knew about the TPP, it failed to meet the “high bar” of creating good jobs, raising wages and advancing national security.
Yes, this would be the same trade deal that she helped negotiate as Secretary of State. This would be the same trade deal that she has touted as a major accomplishment of her tenure there. This would be the same trade deal that she has pushed to have enacted, in public, at least 45 times.
For any ordinary politician, this would be a death blow. For Hillary, it barely rates a mention.
Ben Domenech, writes on this effect:
From the perspective that assumes Clinton operates according to principles and ideology, the shift is potentially damaging. Vox, for example, headlines its coverage: “Hillary Clinton’s flip-flop on the TPP makes no sense.”
And it doesn’t, for someone who is a consistent, principled, ideologically driven politician.
But this move makes total sense if you understand that Clinton is none of these things. She is changing her mind on this, as she has on so many other things, based on nothing more than political pressure from her left and analysis of political trend lines. The media loves to talk about how GOP primaries pull Republicans so far to the right they can’t win a general election, but that’s what’s happening in real time to Clinton, who is locked in a bidding war with a Vermont socialist over the progressive base.Clinton has always been a perfect barometer of where her party is. She is a follower, not a leader. She has correctly perceived that the Democratic base is now a dominated by a coalition of economic know-nothings and culture-war leftists who are less interested in “progressive” policy than in freezing the status quo in place.
As an expression of throwback reflexes on trade and growth, it amounts to Trumpism in a pantsuit. And it’s something more: It’s evidence that a second Clinton presidency can only be won on the ashes of the legacy and vision of the first—a triangulating presidency during which entitlements were reformed significantly and free trade expanded.
Right now we are in a situation where 60% of Democrat voters say Hillary isn’t trustworthy which begs a couple of questions: why would you vote for someone who you don’t trust and who the hell are the people who think she is trustworthy? Mental patients?
These rules do not apply to Clinton, which is why it’s pointless to make a fuss about her stated “position” on TPP. She is likely lying about what she thinks, and even if she’s not, her words have no necessary relationship with her true policy goals. The odds of Clinton pushing this agreement forward yesterday were 50/50, and today they are 50/50. It is a position taken for the sake of advantage at this juncture of a long campaign—and there is no reason she will feel bound by it once in the White House.
Clinton’s campaign positions are just about doing whatever will do her the most political good in the moment, like Lucille Bluth deciding between her least favorite children. Her positions are just words designed to get herself into the desk where she can then decide what is best for all the little people. Clinton’s words are the cake she lets the voters eat. And eat it they will.
I would differ with Ben on some of this. While I would agree that this will not hurt Hillary, in and of itself, it does underscore the narrative that she is not to be trusted. This narrative will be present throughout the campaign. It might not sink her but it will make her job much more difficult. But the sad takeaway from this is that even though a supermajority of the nation thinks she is an unprincipled liar the race is still close. This speaks to the weakness of the GOP brand as nothing else can.