In the middle of October, Hillary Clinton managed to perform a minor political miracle. By baselessly speculating that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, was a “favorite of the Russians” and preparing to run as an independent, she revived one of the more quixotic, eccentric and moribund campaigns of this election cycle while spoiling a primary that has proved shockingly substantive for a major party in the United States.

Gabbard “clapped back,” tweeting that Hillary was “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party.” The congresswoman then proceeded to parlay Clinton’s political anti-genius for hauling feckless enemies out of political obscurity and crowning them with a notoriety they’d never be able to achieve on her own, into a brief turn in the media spotlight. Gabbard even went on the eponymous Fox News show “Hannity,” which makes Tucker Carlson’s white power hour look like the School of Athens, to complain about her treatment by a woman she blames for the last two decades of American wars, and to echo Republican procedural complaints about the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.

Clinton’s record as secretary of state speaks for itself. Her avid cheerleading for the disastrous “intervention” in Libya alone should be tattooed on her forehead and carved onto her eventual monument as a warning to the next hundred generations. But Gabbard’s own anti-war bona fides are themselves questionable, appealing to suckers and desperate contrarians alike. Scratch the surface and her foreign policy reveals itself as little more than pre-Bush realpolitik, with a Kissinger-ian preference for an archipelago of U.S.-aligned strongman governments to keep the dual threats of “Islamic Terrorism” and pan-Arabism in line. That foreign policy includes robust American expeditionary forces and drone warfare capabilities to prosecute the so-called War on Terror.

Clinton, meanwhile, seems constitutionally incapable of letting go of the bogus narrative that she lost to Donald Trump in 2016 not because she ran a lousy campaign that couldn’t turn out the vote in critical states, but because of Jill Stein’s third-party run, which garnered less than one third of the votes of fellow third-party candidate Gary Johnson. Combined with the still-nebulous conspiracy of “Russian interference,” of which Jill Stein is and is not a part, depending on the theorist, this keeps getting Clinton in trouble.

Much like Trump himself, the Clintons have long surrounded themselves with a coterie of slavish hangers-on, so it follows that there is no one left in their inner circle to say, Mrs. Clinton, maybe you’d better not. Ironically, in picking this fight with Gabbard, Hillary could be recapitulating the very error that she and her husband made in 2015, when Bill infamously encouraged Trump to run as Republican spoiler, inadvertently elevating the one character Hillary was least equipped to confront and defeat.

Gabbard is no Trump: she lacks his odious magnetism, his greedy horniness for fame and notoriety. And unlike Trump, for whom a tacky, gross American ordinariness is a huge part of his successful public charm, she is a genuine eccentric—a bundle of personal and political contradictions totally out of keeping with the aggressive someone-oughtta-do-something resentments of the angry America that elected our current president.

But Hillary Clinton is no Hillary Clinton; not anymore. And on the vastly diminished stage of Twitter spats and cable media hits, she cannot hope to win here. Even were she to manage to make some political enemy look small, she can only look smaller, this figure who could have retired to a life of philanthropy, for which she would have been feted by cultural tastemakers, and out of which she might have actually engendered the very sentiment for which she is so obviously and ineffectively clamoring now: a sentimental, hypothetical nostalgia for that which might have been had she won.

This makes all the more grotesquely poignant the recent New York Times report that a “half-dozen Democratic donors” had gathered in Manhattan at the Whitby Hotel, “a celebration of contemporary art and design . . . on the doorstep of some of New York’s leading restaurants, galleries and museums, including MoMA.” (Including MoMA! Lord save us from the Manhattan provincialism of the stupidly rich.) These donors were getting together to ask themselves seemingly the only question their wealth and privilege will allow them about the Democratic primary: “Is there anyone else?” Could they, in other words, draft some other centrist sucker into the race: the already-abandoned Howard Shultz? Former Attorney General Eric Holder? The perennial will-he/won’t-he billionaire, Michael Bloomberg? Hillary?

“Democrats who have recently spoken with Mrs. Clinton say she shares the same concerns other party elites have about the field — worried about Mr. Biden’s durability [and] Ms. Warren’s liberal politics,” reported the Times. Only anonymous Democrats could fantasize about drafting one of the biggest losers in the party’s history for a race that has exposed the divide separating the legitimately anti-war, democratic socialist campaign of Bernie Sanders and the technocratic left-liberalism of Elizabeth Warren from the content-less, happy-days-are-here-again pabulum of Joe Biden and the corporatism masquerading as progress of Pete Buttigieg.

A “half-dozen” rich dummies in a room does not an insurgency make, but the fact that Clinton is in this conversation, and the fact that it very clearly impelled her to send up a trial balloon for a fuller return to public life, does suggest that Gabbard isn’t altogether wrong about that “rot.” Most of these people, after all, are the Clintons’ contemporaries. Despite the embattlement of his own impeachment, I suspect they fondly remember Bill’s presidency as the last deep gasp of a lost era of good feelings, a boom time that actually felt like a boom time. They forget just how much official Washington hated that oversexed redneck, Bill, what a cruel time the nineties really were, and that Newt Gingrich was an absolute madman who combined the gross personal excesses of Trumpism with the moon-man technocratic fascism of today’s Elon Musk brigade.

I don’t think Hillary will actually do it. By the time Biden does collapse and the primaries shake into their final form for 2020, it will be too late. But I don’t expect her to go away, either. I know an addict when I see one. After each binge, she will tell herself: I’m not doing that again. A few weeks later, she will find herself fingering her phone in her pocket, bargaining herself into making that call: one more, one last time.

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