Hillary Clinton offers unsolicited debate advice

The loser of the 2008 Democratic primary and 2016 presidential election has some tips

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Hillary Clinton (Getty)
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It’s that time of year again: Hillary Clinton has surfaced from her Chappaqua estate to weigh in on politics with vindictive fury. This time she’s billing herself as the expert for Thursday’s presidential debate in a New York Times op-ed. Since Clinton is the only person to have debated both candidates — Joe Biden during the 2008 Democratic primary and Donald Trump during the 2016 election — she reasons she has the unique credentials to analyze the match. Given that she failed to win both races, however, Cockburn thinks it’s a bit rich for Clinton to be…

It’s that time of year again: Hillary Clinton has surfaced from her Chappaqua estate to weigh in on politics with vindictive fury. This time she’s billing herself as the expert for Thursday’s presidential debate in a New York Times op-ed. Since Clinton is the only person to have debated both candidates — Joe Biden during the 2008 Democratic primary and Donald Trump during the 2016 election — she reasons she has the unique credentials to analyze the match. Given that she failed to win both races, however, Cockburn thinks it’s a bit rich for Clinton to be offering advice.

Ever the ruling class elite trying to seem relatable, Clinton began her op-ed recounting the “time of her life” she had at the Tony Awards last week. Not wanting to be outdone by the Obamas’ film company, Clinton has become a Broadway producer since leaving office. Her most recent project, a musical about suffragettes, won two awards. The whole anecdote was set up rather on the nose so that Clinton could hit us with this zinger: she likes politics in her theater but not theater in her politics. 

The op-ed starts as it means to go on. It accuses Trump of ruining the economy, condemns him for going on the offensive during the 2016 debates and fearmongers about abortion restrictions. While calling Trump a madman, Clinton seems to place an absurd amount of trust in Biden, claiming that Trump’s attempts to rattle him “will fall flat if President Biden is as direct and forceful as he was when engaging Republican hecklers at the State of the Union address.” She also called Biden one of the “most empathetic leaders we’ve ever had,” which is odd to hear from a woman as warm as an arctic breeze. 

Clinton says voters shouldn’t get caught up in the theatrics of the debate — you know, the candidate’s rhetoric, how they present their arguments and policy, challenges to their opponent — and instead focus on the vibes. Do Americans want chaos or competence? A convicted felon or a “wise and decent man”? Since Trump just blathers nonsense, according to Clinton, it’s a “waste of time” for Biden to respond to him. It’s the “fundamentals at stake” that voters should care about, not who can speak cogently. 

It’s more than a bit telling that Clinton wants to downplay the importance of onstage performance, especially considering the evening will be set up to help the president win. Trump’s mic will be muted for half the debate and a pro-Biden news network is moderating. Clinton, like the rest of us, still doesn’t expect Biden to make it out intact. She even admits that the incumbent usually performs worse than his challenger since the presidency is a “everything-everywhere-all-at-once job” that affords little time for debate prep. So far Biden’s demanding schedule has landed him at Camp David, his country retreat, for a week where aides have put him on a “prep-and-rest” routine.

Hours after publishing her op-ed, Clinton also announced her upcoming memoir Something Lost, Something Gained. She described the book as a reflection on friendship, aging and marriage. In preparing for Thursday, she’s undoubtedly reflecting on the many things lost in 2008 and 2016 as well.