Hillary Clinton’s opponents in the race for the 2016 Democratic nomination are against the TPP deal, unions are against the deal, and now she’s against it too although previously she was one of its strongest supporters.

It’s hard to imagine that a single thinking human being would be convinced that her change of heart on this issue is on the merits rather than merely politically expedient. For example, even Ezra Klein finds himself a mite perturbed by her reversal on this and other matters:

Of late, Clinton is again looking like the kind of candidate who puts polls in front of policy.

First, she came out against Obamacare’s Cadillac tax — a policy that enjoys wide support among health economists…

…What I have trouble believing is that Clinton and her policy advisers really think the Cadillac tax is a bad idea. Her past policies embrace its theory, her past advisers helped pass it into law…

On Wednesday, Clinton came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, saying that she’s concerned with the provisions around pharmaceuticals and the absence of provisions around currency manipulation. But as Tim Lee notes, Clinton strongly supported early versions of the deal — she called the TPP “the gold standard in trade agreements” — that were worse on pharmaceuticals and identical on currency manipulation…

I don’t truly know what’s in Clinton’s heart — perhaps I’m wrong, and despite all evidence to the contrary, she holds all these positions deeply — but as a close reader of her record, I’m not convinced that Clinton, in office, wouldn’t support policies like the Cadillac tax or negotiate trade deals like the TPP. And as someone trying to understand Clinton’s likely governing philosophy, it’s unnerving.

And this is a broader problem for Clinton. Her political weakness, fairly or not, is that the voters and the media…have decided that she’s unusually poll-tested and calculating, even for a politician.

Apparently, Klein is not enough of a Clinton devotee to be able to say that 2 + 2 = 5 in this case, and he doesn’t even think it would help her if he were to say so, because her flaws have become so obvious. But that doesn’t mean that so many of her supporters are ready to abandon her for this sort of thing. In fact, quite a few of them will probably agree with this chilling yet revealing piece by Matt Yglesias, which is a must-read if you want to understand the heart/mind of the left. Although his starting point is not her TPP reversal but her problems with her email, he explains why none of these flaws may matter to partisan Democrats:

Clinton is clearly more comfortable than the average person with violating norms and operating in legal gray areas.

This is normally portrayed as a political weakness of hers, and in many ways it is. She can’t credibly portray herself as the kind of outsider who’s going to clean up a broken and corrupt Washington system, because she is very much a part of that system and has been for years.

But it’s also an enormous source of potential strength. Committed Democrats and liberal-leaning interest groups are facing a reality in which any policy gains they achieve are going to come through the profligate use of executive authority, and Clinton is almost uniquely suited to deliver the goods. More than almost anyone else around, she knows where the levers of power lie, and she is comfortable pulling them, procedural niceties be damned.

Democrats have almost no chance of securing a majority in the US Senate and even worse odds of securing a majority in the House. So if there is a future for making progressive policy, that future is executive action.

So, there it is. Vote for Hillary! She’ll continue to trash the Constitution just like Obama in order to get what we want, because how else can we be successful in going around the will of the people?

For their own good, of course.

[NOTE: The title of this post is a reference to the famous Emerson quote about “a foolish consistency” being the “hobgoblin of little minds.”]

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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