Why Liberal Democrats Are Skeptical of Hillary Clinton, in One Paragraph

Yuri Gripas/Reuters

There's a lot of static on the dial, but you can still pick the picture out clearly: If she wants it, the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination almost certainly belongs to Hillary Clinton. 

But the static—like this week's dust-up between Senator Elizabeth Warren and the center-left think-tank Third Way—isn't irrelevant. These skirmishes are part of a back and forth in the Democratic Party over what it should look like in 2016. To understand why the Warren wing of the party is making noise, look no further than a report from Ben White and Maggie Haberman in Politico Magazine Thursday. They take us to Goldman Sachs' New York headquarters, where the former secretary of state spoke to executives recently: 

But Clinton offered a message that the collected plutocrats found reassuring, according to accounts offered by several attendees, declaring that the banker-bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish. Striking a soothing note on the global financial crisis, she told the audience, in effect: We all got into this mess together, and we’re all going to have to work together to get out of it. What the bankers heard her to say was just what they would hope for from a prospective presidential candidate: Beating up the finance industry isn’t going to improve the economy—it needs to stop. And indeed Goldman’s Jim O’Neill, the laconic Brit who heads the bank’s asset management division, introduced Clinton by saying how courageous she was for speaking at the bank. (Brave, perhaps, but also well-compensated: Clinton’s minimum fee for paid remarks is $200,000).

That's a tidy summation of why the left doesn't totally trust Clinton and fears a return to the Wall Street-friendly Rubinite days of her husband's administration.
 
White and Haberman quote a relieved banker: "It was like, 'Here’s someone who doesn’t want to vilify us but wants to get business back in the game.' Like, maybe here’s someone who can lead us out of the wilderness." Of course, the progressives think Democrats are just coming out of the wilderness now: Bill de Blasio will soon be the mayor of the city where Goldman is based. Larry Summers won't chair the Federal Reserve. The Volcker Rule reigns. Now, it seems like the next Democratic nominee wants to go back down the path they've so laboriously climbed.

David A. Graham

David Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.


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