Hillary Clinton wants to be president. But every time she opens her mouth these days, it seems she takes a step backwards.
Clinton has been excoriated on the right and the left over the past couple of weeks for her claim that she and husband Bill Clinton were "dead broke" when they left the White House, and later that their $200 million net worth does not qualify the Clintons as "truly rich." Those remarks offended the income inequality crowd, which makes up much of the Democrats' dependency base these days.
But Clinton may have outdone herself with remarks she made last week at the Aspen Institute in Colorado, where she seemingly declared war on men. Commenting on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding Hobby Lobby's religious right not to provide abortifacient drugs to its employees, Clinton said she was deeply disturbed. Then she began speaking about oppression of women and threw in this gem:
"They (women) are often the canaries in the mine. You watch women and girls being deprived of their rights â ¦ among those rights is control over their bodies, control over their own health care, control over the size of their family and it is a disturbing trend that you see in a lot of societies that are very unstable, anti-democratic and frankly prone to extremism where women and women's bodies are used as the defining and unifying issue to bring together people - men - to get them to behave in ways that are disadvantageous to women, but which prop them up because of their religion, their sect, their tribe whatever. So to introduce this element into our society â ¦ ."
Goodness. Where shall we begin? So the Hobby Lobby decision was really a first step toward establishing a male caliphate in American society? And groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, because they have religious objections to compulsory provision of birth control are in league with the likes of Boco Haram and the Taliban? And because the religious objections were upheld (under a law signed by Clinton's husband) we are on the way as a society to being "unstable, anti-Democratic and frankly prone to extremism"?
The term "over the top" is overused, but it applies in this case. About the kindest thing that could be said about Clinton's remarks is that they are bizarre. But a more appropriate criticism may be that they are sexist. Forget religion - this decision was somehow part of a grand male conspiracy in the U.S. to subjugate women. Wow.
But Clinton didn't stop there. Having written off basically all men as Neanderthals who can be rallied to any political cause by oppression of females, she then turned her attention to alienating Catholics.
Asked about the fact that the Supreme Court based its decision on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which her husband signed into law in 1993, she said it was a good law at the time "because, at that point, there were legitimate cases of discrimination against religion."
So compelling Catholic hospitals, schools and relief organizations to provide birth control including abortifacient drugs to employees against their most deeply held religious beliefs is not "legitimate" discrimination? And are we to take her remarks to assume that religious discrimination has vanished from the American landscape since 1993?
We're hard pressed to believe Clinton will find many people of faith who will agree with that statement.
Many in the media and the public consider Clinton the presumptive Democratic nominee and president-elect in 2016. Based on her stumbles of recent weeks, we are beginning to believe neither will be true. Unlike her husband, when it comes to shrewd campaigning, Hillary Clinton is just not very good.
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