Opinion

Why Republicans secretly yearn for a Hillary Clinton presidency

It's just not the same without her

Hillary Clinton has a stalker. Their relationship is over, yet he keeps hounding her, pursuing her, and obsessing over her, dreaming of all the time they're going to spend together, their lives entwined forever, or at least for another few years. Why can't he accept reality? Because she gives his life meaning. Without her, he's nothing.

The "he" I'm referring to here is the Republican Party, of course. This week we learned that Republicans in Congress have opened not one but two new investigations into Clinton, one on the government's approval of the sale of a company that controls uranium mining in the United States that took place while she was secretary of state (short version: she did nothing wrong), and the other on — you guessed it — her emails (or more specifically, the way the FBI investigated her emails). And of course, the president himself keeps tweeting about her and bringing her up, in those rare moments when he's between feuds with other people.

If the GOP was a friend of yours, you'd pull him aside, lay a comforting hand on his shoulder, and say, "Dude, she's gone. You've got to let it go."

But they can't.

They were so excited about what these years were going to be like with a Republican Congress and Clinton in the White House. She would give them purpose and focus, the idea of vexing her and catching her in multitudinous crimes would be the thing that got them jumping out of bed in the morning. Just look at the energy they put into investigating Benghazi, in which four Americans died but there was never any credible evidence that Clinton did anything wrong: seven separate congressional investigations, culminating in a special committee that took 28 months to explore the matter, longer than Congress spent investigating Watergate or the Sept. 11 attacks.

But that was merely an amuse bouche of oversight compared to what they had planned for Clinton's presidency. Subpoenas would fall upon her administration like a righteous hurricane of justice, exposing every bit of malfeasance and misconduct to be found. "Even before we get to Day One, we've got two years' worth of material already lined up," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), then the chair of the House Oversight Committee, two weeks before the 2016 election.

But then she lost, to the surprise of Democrats and Republicans alike. For his part, Chaffetz quit just a few months into the new Congress, despite having just been re-elected himself. What was the point of being there if he couldn't be Inspector Javert to Clinton's Jean Valjean, Captain Ahab to her white whale?

You might say, "What about enacting all that conservative legislation you've been waiting so long to pass and have a Republican president sign?" But that hasn't quite worked out, and it turns out that being in the opposition was just more fun than having a president of your own party. Now they have to do all that boring legislating, not to mention having to constantly defend the oafish halfwit they rallied behind for the presidency. It would have been so much more gratifying to shake their fists at Hillary Clinton, make her life miserable, and ultimately see her driven before them.

In a way, it's a hangover from the frustrations of the Obama years. Barack Obama had fewer scandals than any recent president, though not for lack of trying on the Republicans' part. Again and again, some controversy would emerge — Solyndra, Fast and Furious, the IRS — and after a flurry of initial excitement it would turn out that nobody did anything wrong, or if they did then it was more low-level bumbling than a nefarious conspiracy reaching all the way to the top. None of those controversies got anywhere near the Oval Office, which is what you need for a really good scandal. While they hoped there would be an Obama scandal to stand alongside Watergate and Iran-Contra, in the end Barack Obama was squeaky-clean.

So they were primed and ready for Clinton, and how could she disappoint them? With a quarter-century's practice at hating her with every fiber of their beings, they knew beyond any doubt that her administration would be riddled with corruption and criminality, providing an endless series of outrages to fuel their thirst. And then she lost.

And today it's not just Republicans in Congress feeling that emptiness. Visit any conservative website like Drudge or Breitbart, and you'll almost certainly find a few articles about Hillary Clinton and her supposedly villainous doings, whether it's some long-ago crime never fully investigated or a new statement she made that just set their blood boiling.

In an age of negative partisanship — where voters are much more powerfully motivated by their hatred of the other party than by any affection for their own side — a Clinton presidency would have held the GOP together, unifying all Republicans in their common loathing of Hillary. But by losing, she deprived them of that, a final cruel insult.

Now they're left adrift, without something to really get their juices flowing. They can mount an investigation or two, but it just won't be the same. Clinton annoyed them, exasperated them, enraged them — and then in the end, abandoned them. Which just goes to show how diabolical she was.

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