BY MARK LEIBOVICH
So, I was driving along somewhere in New Hampshire on Monday, the day before the storied primary. It was snowing, just as the clichés of the New Hampshire Primary dictate: It is always snowing in New Hampshire. (Really, though, it actually was snowing).
The email came in from an editor in New York at around 4 p.m. Subject line: “Hillaryworld.” Body content: “What do you make of the supposed looming implosion?”
What supposed looming implosion? Or, to be more precise, whichsupposed looming implosion? Isn’t Hillaryworld always on the verge of one?
Yes, but they do have a tendency to occur at this precise moment. Periods of intense hand-wringing and recrimination always occur in Clintonworld around the New Hampshire primaries, if history is any guide — and what is Clinton history, if not utterly repetitive?
These brawls traditionally follow difficult results in Iowa. In 1992, the native Hawkeye Tom Harkin beat Bill Clinton in the year’s first caucuses. Barack Obama beat Hillary in 2008 (as did John Edwards, who finished second). And last week, Bernie Sanders essentially tied the former secretary of state, setting up the latest Clinton bloodbath-in-waiting. Hillary is down big in the New Hampshire polls. Her nervous staff and extended community of sycophants, hangers-on and self-professed “confidantes” keep unburdening themselves in the press — while being granted anonymity in exchange for their self-aggrandizing candor.
And then Politico writes all about it, as the site’s Glenn Thrush and Annie Karni did yesterday: “Clinton weighs staff shake-up after New Hampshire.”
We’ve been here before. This is how it all rolls in the Clinton precincts of Blue America. The situation is so familiar to be its own Democratic Party cliché, like nominating unelectable liberals in the 1980s or engaging in nasty platform fights in the 1990s.
Say this about the Clintons, for better or worse: They are predictable. Thrush and Karni’s New Hampshire pre-autopsy contained all the paint-by-number refrains of Clinton crackups past:
· The term “staff shake-up” would need to appear in the story’s headline (or, at least, the lede).
· Also, somewhere, the phrase “lack of trust” or “mutual suspicion.”
· The story would have to include a nod to the trusted old Clinton hands who were selflessly offering themselves up as potential campaign saviors.
· Embedded in the article would be the clear implication that all of this could have been avoided if only Mark Penn, Clinton’s 2008 strategist, were more involved.
The story would also inevitably include at least one blind quote from a former Obama campaign aide who knows how to do things better.
· The story would have to offer up for sacrifice at least one scapegoat, whose job was allegedly in peril.
· Bonus points if said scapegoat hails from Obama’s campaigns (watch your back, Joel Benenson).
So, yes, this latest chapter in the Clintons’ book of Supposed Looming Implosions, 2016 edition, contains all the predictable elements. And I have no doubt that everything in the Politico story is 100 percent correct. Again: This is how it all goes in Clintonworld. For whatever reason — for all of their political gifts — Bill and Hillary are addicted to this high-wire act. And the slick roads of New Hampshire seem to be their preferred recurring backdrop, like those repeating cactuses in the background of an old cartoon
We, the political gallery, become codependents. Ho-hum. (My Clinton Fatigue is acting up again.) And yet here we are, back in New Hampshire, with another Clinton inevitability parade being snowed on by someone — Sanders, in this case — who is, allegedly, unelectable.
This, of course, is when the Clintons are at their best and most dangerous. Their well-honed survival instinct kicks in. The challenger gets cocky. Next thing we know, there the Clintons are again, up on another New Hampshire pedestal, claiming victory. In other words, here we are in the midst of another Supposed Looming Implosion in New Hampshire, and as of noon on Primary Day, I am ruling nothing out.
And of course Joe Biden, who is tanned and tested, is ruling nothing out either.