As 2018 comes to a close,we are trying to imagine how Hillary Clinton would be closing out her second year as president in an alternate universe where she won the 2016 election:
In the president’s year-end news conference, Clinton frankly acknowledged the greatest disappointment of her two years in office: “In my inaugural, I promised to bring the country together,” she said, “but the polarization and tribalism are worse than ever.”
President Hillary Clinton looked back wistfully to her greatest achievement: passage of bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform at the end of 2017. To achieve the sort of compromise that had repeatedly eluded both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, Clinton enlisted her friends from the Senate, Lindsey Graham and the late John McCain, while Speaker Paul Ryan played the key role in the House. The bill reduced illegal immigration with enhanced border security and tough new workplace enforcement, but it also offered a plausible path to legal status for undocumented residents who had avoided trouble with the law or dependence on welfare.
Clinton also scored with her Supreme Court appointments. Merrick Garland, the unconfirmed choice of her predecessor, won scattered GOP support from senators who believed they’d never get a more moderate choice from a Clinton administration. To replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, the president again turned to a legal scholar who had staked out turf in the middle of the road: Yale Law School’s Akhil Reed Amar, son of immigrants from India and the first Indian-American ever to serve on the nation’s highest court.
But after these conspicuous triumphs, Clinton stumbled badly with her “tax the rich” revenue bill meant to address the deficit, while shifting burdens from the middle class to the wealthy. It never had a chance in the Republican Congress, nor did her initiative to expand and secure Obamacare. In fact, her veto of the GOP’s sweeping Obamacare repeal brought an unpopular government shutdown for which Clinton drew most of the criticism.
Worst of all, she proved powerless to parry ongoing attacks on her alleged history of “corruption and scandal.” The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by the indomitable Trey Gowdy, revisited the email issue, while probing the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One deal with Russia. Under relentless GOP pressure, Attorney General Sally Yates — a popular, charismatic holdover from Obama’s Justice Department — grudgingly appointed a special counsel to consolidate the investigationhunt’
Kaine: Mueller probe is a ‘partisan witch hunt’
Her selection of Robert Mueller — a Republican straight-arrow and former FBI director — initially reassured both sides, but his seemingly endless probe undermined confidence in the administration and forced the resignation of White House Chief of Staff Huma Abedin. Questions over business and personal connections of first husband Bill Clinton became especially embarrassing, and he began spending most of his time away from Washington and his wife.
Generally, President Clinton followed the advice of White House counsel Lanny Davis and avoided direct attacks on Mueller and his team, but Vice President Tim Kaine took up the cudgels on her behalf, regularly dismissing the investigation as a “partisan witch hunt.”
The midterm elections saw Republicans adding to their majorities in both House and Senate, with Speaker Paul Ryan emerging as a clear favorite for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination. Clinton insisted that the GOP gained fewer seats than average for an opposition party in a midterm contest, but her advisers acknowledged that they needed Republican divisions to bolster their chances of re-electClinton
Partisan division frustrates President Clinton
Those hopes focused primarily on Donald Trump, who dominated news coverage of politics just as he did as Republican nominee. During most of 2017, after charging that Clinton’s narrow victory had been “stolen,” he concentrated on the launch of AFN — his new “America First Network,” otherwise known as TrumpTV. With its promised live, exclusive coverage of at least one exuberant Trump rally every week in 2019, AFN is already achieving commercial success while promoting Trump’s role as either candidate or kingmaker. Trump demands “complete and total repeal” of Clinton’s “treasonous amnesty bill” while urging her prompt impeachment. Public opinion polls show nearly a third of Americans strongly agree with him.
Naturally, that’s the sort of division that frustrates the president. At her news conference, she accepted some of the blame but not all of it.
“We’d probably have this same sort of angry agitation, no matter who won two years ago,” she said. “Does anyone really believe our country would be calmer or more unified under Trump?”