Authors: Hugh Hewitt
Tags: #Political Science / American Government / Executive Branch, #Political Science / Political Process / Campaigns & Elections
The Queen: The Epic Ambition of Hillary and the Coming of a Second "Clinton Era"
Center Street (2015)
Tags: Political Science / American Government / Executive Branch, Political Science / Political Process / Campaigns & Elections
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“The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail. But hope remains if friends stay true.”
The Lord of the Rings
For Doctor Larry Arnn and all my other teachers
It is the 500th anniversary of the publication of
by Niccolo Machiavelli, give or take a year. Machiavelli addressed his short essay on ruling “To the Magnificent Lorenzo Di Piero De’ Medici,” who was then, as you are now, the leading member of a long-powerful family that had recently returned to power after a period of exile from it. The Medici were busy planning their new appointments and policies when Machiavelli delivered his book, accompanied by the wish that the “gone and back again” Medici power brokers would succeed even more spectacularly than they had in their first era of rule.
Machiavelli had been a senior official in the government overthrown by the return of the Medici, and had in fact been imprisoned and tortured by them. Upon release, however, he did not seek a quiet life but rather to continue with a role in the great game of ruling. As Charles Krauthammer wrote in his spectacularly successful memoir of 2013,
Things That Matter
, politics is indeed sovereign in this world, and Machiavelli wanted to be back in the midst of the use of power.
Politics is sovereign in this world, and only theology competes for a level of interest among general readership. But for theology to matter, it must be true that there is a God of some sort. Politics matters whether or not there is a God. The “Great Gamble” referred to by Blaise Pascal that challenged non-believers to consider the consequences of their denial could also be applied to those disinterested in politics: They gamble that it will never be about them. Sometimes that gamble goes disastrously against them. The Germans in 1931 and all the Jews of Europe not long thereafter. The Iranians in 1977. The Ukrainians in 2014. Suddenly, the maelstrom.
There is so much to say about politics, but much of it is carried away by events. Remarkably, Machiavelli’s advice remains very relevant five centuries later. I suspect you have read
, just as I know you have read Saul Alinsky’s
Rules for Radicals
I also suspect that you harbor contempt and envy, bordering on hatred, for President Obama—something like the searing contempt your husband feels for him detailed in
by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. That rage, reported by Halperin and Heilemann in such acute detail (“an off-the-rack Chicago poll” I believe they report Bill calling the soon-to-be new president)—is profound, and I just can’t believe Bill had it and you didn’t. You two don’t think him very smart, do you? You suspect it but cannot say it, and you tried to get to his college and law school transcripts for that reason: to show the world he had been lifted up, not clawed his way up as you and Bill have. Many people suspect this but cannot say it, and even now the very able Axelrod and the not-so-gifted Jarrett and the rest protect this flank carefully. (See the complete transcript of my interview with Axelrod, part of which is referenced below). Those who say such things on my side of the aisle are not believed to be sincere, but merely jealous, or in some cases racist. But what you seem to suspect is a lack of intellectual capacity is often revealed in his speeches and his conversations that, when unscripted, are trite compilations of slogans and self-serving, self-pitying gasps for fealty. The Crusades? Really, how it must make you cringe.
It must gall you still that he beat you. It must motivate you to run to replace him and then snub him, make his people crawl. To erase his victory. To use the greatest megaphone in the world to announce to the world that Chance the Gardener has left the building. Not too quickly, of course. Slowly, carefully. A thorough erasing takes time and must be done gently or you will tear the paper.
“Sometimes, Hugh,” Willie Brown, then a Speaker of the California Assembly, said to me in a feigned hushed tone before a green-light-on camera in 1992, “I have to admit that what I enjoy most is simply the raw exercise of power.”
So did Machiavelli. So does your husband. So apparently do you. You could no more not seek to be president than George W. Bush could have walked away in 2004, or Barack Obama in 2012. You have wanted to be president before. The desire doesn’t go away. To it is added your amazing personal drive to defeat, if only by accomplishment, the loser that bested you and then made you work for him. You wanted the job once and haven’t stopped wanting it. You need it, in fact.
I was told about that desire in 1978 by Richard Nixon when I joined his staff as a 23-year-old ghost writer.
You had helped force Nixon from the Oval Office you seek to occupy. I think it is ironic in that this, perhaps my last book on politics, for I have nothing more to write that I haven’t already written in a dozen previous books, I am addressing a member of the team who, in arranging the deposition of RN, opened many doors for me in the years ahead. Perhaps this is a long-delayed, thank-you gift, though the crisis brought about by the partisan savaging of Nixon set the country off on the course that opened the door to Khomeini. Yes, Archibald Cox, Sam Dash, Leon Jaworski, the old racist Sam Ervin, Richard Ben-Veniste, etc. etc.—they all own part of Khomeini’s legacy. Of course they didn’t know. But you cannot topple heads of government and heads of state of the world’s greatest power without setting off earthquakes. The Qaddafi adventure taught you everything about unintended consequences you didn’t already know, didn’t it? We will have to talk about your collapse that night. You may not want to admit it, but it is the central issue of the campaign, that and the disappeared emails and the “private” server and the doings of your legions of off-the-books operatives.
All of those stories, and many more, simply pale next to the night of Benghazi.
You. Went. Home. Or were sent home. It was the latter wasn’t it? No matter. That dam will hold. The emails are gone, right? They are gone, aren’t they? Even if that is true, what may not hold are the walls around the details of the call you placed to Gregory Hicks that night, and the other things—things that Obama and perhaps Axelrod and almost certainly Valerie Jarrett know. Valerie has enough of your emails on other topics to, well, to assure that you are not going to be trashing her at least until the Inaugural Oath is sworn and perhaps not even then.
So you helped run off Nixon. You let Mubarak topple. You killed off Qaddafi. Look at the mess you left in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Ukraine. In, well, everywhere.
People of your party worry that fracking will set off tremors. They do not worry about what it means to depose a president of Egypt or Libya, much less a hated Republican. They should. You should.
I don’t expect that you would ever read this little book after your election, so I am publishing it before the contest, which I fervently hope you will not only lose but lose in spectacular fashion, as you do not deserve the office given your reckless, feckless tenure at the Department of State and the wreckage you and the president have wrought, the disaster upon disaster you left behind. (I am not assuming your election, of course—far from it. Think of this book as a sort of “contingency plan” should you somehow win, in spite of your record, the sort of contingency plan you did not have in place in Benghazi on 9/11—of all dates—in 2012.) Thus I write it in such a way to maximize any help it might give to your GOP opponent, but also in such a way as to help you govern should you somehow win, as you are clearly not ready to govern. I do not claim to be disinterested or pretend objectivity that none have, or very few believe in (and for the handful who do believe in such a thing, genuine contempt for their faculties must be recorded). If you read this it will be because it made a stir by its title and its reception, its promotion, and because we share a close friend in common, who may or may not give it to you with his genuine assurance that, while I am wrong, I am not rotten. He might point to my on-air friendships with many of your long-time friends and admirers, like historian Jonathan Alter or columnist E.J. Dionne, or to in-depth interviews I have conducted with Axelrod and other leading lights of your party. People whom you know will vouch for me. For whatever reason, you will read it.
If you do in fact win, then, well perhaps you will recall a few things from these short pages. There are obvious things you ought to do to win, and I expect you will do some of them, and once done, will recall their efficacy if not their unique origin with me, and revisit some of the other suggestions. Some of these are substantive. Some are stylistic. Some are designed to assure your star shines far brighter than Obama’s, which won’t be hard if you don’t set fire to the White House.
Here is what Machiavelli wrote to Lorenzo 500 years ago:
“Take then, your Magnificence, this little gift in the spirit in which I send it; wherein, if it be diligently read and considered by you, you will learn my extreme desire that you should attain that greatness which fortune and your other attributes promise.”
In the same spirit, with the same level of candor, I offer you
July 8, 1971
When is that new book coming out--or has it come and I somehow missed the fulfillment of Revelation? I have just had my one-thousandth conversation about
and need some new material to throw at people. You are being rediscovered again as the New Left-type politicos are finally beginning to think seriously about the hard work and mechanics of organizing. I seem to have survived law school, slightly bruised, with my belief in and zest for organizing intact. If I never thanked you for the encouraging words of last spring in the midst of the Yale-Cambodia madness, I do so now. The more I’ve seen of places like Yale Law School and the people who haunt them, the more convinced I am that we have the serious business and joy of much work ahead,--if the commitment to a free and open society is ever going to mean more than eloquence and frustration.