John Kass: Hillary’s Queen Cersei moment

John Kass

John Kass

If Hillary Clinton fails to fulfill her destiny and retake the White House, she’ll have to go on that lonely political walk of shame.

And then historians may point their bony fingers at young Taylor Gipple.

For it was Mr. Gipple, Iowa millennial and passionate supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who gave us the single most important nationally televised moment of Clinton’s presidential campaign so far.

Think of it as Hillary’s Queen Cersei moment.

If you don’t follow HBO’s series “Game of Thrones,” and the ruthless matron of a fading dynasty, then you’re probably too old or calcified to care about cool stuff such as politics.

But Gipple isn’t too old, and neither are millions of other millennials, those on the left following Sanders, the Vermont socialist, or those millennials on the right following the anti-establishment candidates.

So this one should outlast the Iowa caucuses and follow Mrs. Clinton to the Democratic primaries of New Hampshire and South Carolina, because it explains her great problem.

She has experience, yes. She knows politics. She’s a creature of the Democratic establishment, yes. And she’s a survivor.

But she cannot be trusted. People think she’s a liar. Poll after poll reflects this. And so, it does not bode well for a Clinton Restoration.

Sanders has the crowds, the excitement and, though he’s 74, young liberals like him. And Hillary? She’s the establishment candidate. They tolerate her.

The Queen Cersei moment wasn’t inspired by the vast right-wing conspiracy, or a cast of enemies real or imagined, or even by the FBI investigating Clinton’s email scandal.

Instead it was inspired by Gipple, a Democrat young enough to believe virtue has a place in our politics.

“It feels like there’s a lot of young people out there, like myself, who are very passionate supporters of Bernie Sanders. And I just don’t see the same enthusiasm among younger people for you,” Gipple said in a nervous voice at an Iowa town hall on CNN.
“In fact,” Gipple said, “I’ve heard quite a few people my age that think you’re dishonest, but I’d like to hear from you, why you feel the enthusiasm isn’t there.”

She paused, then blinked and her face began to move toward him on the end of her neck.

There was that Queen Cersei smile. Not with her eyes but with teeth, before she fixed on him with her squint.

If she was standing not in Iowa but in HBO, Cersei’s guards would have already ripped out young Gipple’s tongue or lopped off his thumbs.

Happily, Hillary took neither tongue nor thumbs. Instead, she tried to take Gipple’s pride. And that will cost her more. She started by recounting all of the “stuff” that’s been thrown at her over the years.

“But if you’re new to politics and this is the first time you’ve really paid attention, you go, ‘Oh, my gosh, look at all of this.’ And you have to say to yourself, ‘Why are they throwing all of that?'” Clinton said. “I’ll tell you why: I’ve been on the front lines of change and progress since I was your age.”

Since I was your age, sonny! And what have you done except clap your hands for Bernie, you punk kid!

What she ignored, obviously, is the FBI investigating how top-secret government emails showed up on her private email server in her basement.

Instead, it was, “Why are they throwing all of that?” as if “they” are angry conservative talk show hosts, not the Obama administration.

Reports out of the Obama government on Friday — just days before the Iowa caucuses — confirmed that at least 22 emails of the most closely guarded government secrets were on her private server.

That’s bad news for Hillary’s campaign, because that private server — with many more emails — could have been compromised by foreign intelligence.

She’s tried to deny and spin her way past all of it, but it’s all catching up to her now.

Gipple didn’t know all that as he stood, rather nervously, before Hillary the Great as she dressed him down on national TV.

“When I worked on health care back in ’93 and ’94, and I don’t know if you were born then, I can’t quite tell, but, if you’d been around, and had been able to pay attention, I was trying to get us to universal health care coverage,” she said.

If you’d been around. If you were born then. If you’d been able to pay attention.

At least she didn’t mention that some Democrats voting in 2016 may have been toddlers chewing frozen bagels for teething pain when her husband was impeached.

On the Republican side, voters feel betrayed by the GOP establishment, which is why the leading candidates, Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, are running insurgent campaigns.

These two promise, basically, that if elected president they’ll go to Washington and punch the whole town in the mouth.

And many Republicans, numbed by the establishment GOP’s constant betrayals, are desperate to believe in something.

Sanders offers a similar sense from the anti-establishment insurgent Democratic left. Young Democrats flock to the old guy.

Yes, he promises free college tuition and fully federalized health care he can’t really pay for. But they flock to him because he gives them something else, something to believe in.

They want to believe.

But they won’t let themselves believe in Hillary. And that’s her problem now.

Email: jskass@tribune.com

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