A pattern of cutting corners, a patina of entitlement and inevitability, has led to this.
Destroying digital messages and thwarting official investigations while acting all innocent about wiping out sensitive material.
Avoiding reporters after giving disingenuous explanations at uncomfortable news conferences. Claiming egregious transgressions are a private matter and faux controversy while sending out high-power lawyers and spin doctors to deflect and minimize.
Two controlling superstars with mutable hair and militant fans, married to two magnetic superstars who can make a gazillion an hour for flashing their faces and who have been known to stir up trouble.
A pair of team captains craving a championship doing something surreptitious that they never needed to do to win.
It turns out Tom Brady and Hillary Clinton have more in common than you would think.
Brady had his assistant terminate his Samsung phone the day before he talked to an investigator about Deflategate. Hillary set up a home-brew private server, overruling the concerns of her husband’s aides, and erased 30,000 emails before the government had a chance to review them to see whether any were classified.
Brady and Hillary, wanting to win at all costs and believing the rules don’t apply to them, are willing to take the hit of people not believing them, calculating that there is no absolute proof.
They both have a history of subterfuge — Brady and the Patriots with Spygate, Hillary with all her disappearing and appearing records.
Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, is out there rabidly defending Brady. The crafty Hillary has her own rabid defender in David Brock. Kraft and Brock both have a financial interest, of course, in bleaching the images of their quarterbacks. Hillary and Brady have billion-dollar operations, and their sketchy value systems force people around them into seamy Faustian bargains.
These may be mere speed bumps for these top players. But in the case of Hillary, problems of style and substance are starting to scuff her sheen of inevitability.
There are tensions in her campaign that echo the failed 2008 campaign. Her rare interviews have seemed robotic and infused with the queenly attitude that put off people last time, before she melted in New Hampshire and decided, as in “Frozen,” to Let It Go. Can Hillary convey authenticity only when she thinks she’s losing?
Once more she has figuratively and literally roped off the press, sloughing off her promise at a journalistic dinner four months ago for a fresh start.
Her strategists worry about surveys showing that voters do not trust her. But her private server is a metaphor for her own lack of trust and a guarded, suspicious mindset that lands her in needless messes.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday offered yet another unsavory saga of what appears to be Clinton back-scratching. After Hillary, as secretary of state, intervened to help make a deal where UBS had to turn over only a small fraction of the account information sought by the Internal Revenue Service, UBS amped up its donations to the Clinton Foundation and paid Bill Clinton $1.5 million to do some Q&As for the company.
Hillary is lucky that she faces a crowded, absurdist Republican field cowering in the shadow of the megalomaniacal showman Donald Trump.
But two recent Quinnipiac University polls show her unfavorability rising in swing states. She now trails Jeb Bush by 1 point, after leading him by 10 in May, and Joe Biden leads Jeb by 1 point.
Many Democrats fret that she seems more impatient than hungry, more cautious than charismatic. They are increasingly concerned that, aside from the very liberal Bernie Sanders, who could be approaching his ceiling in the early states, there is no backup if something blows up — no Jimmy Garoppolo to step in while Brady is suspended for four games.
Potent friends of America’s lord of latte, Howard Schultz, have been pressing Biden to join the Democratic primary. For the passionate 62-year-old — watching the circus from Seattle — it may be a tempting proposition.
After coming up from the housing projects in the New York borough of Brooklyn, Schultz re-imagined Starbucks and then revived it. He has strong opinions and even position papers about what he calls the fraying American dream. While he was promoting his book on veterans last year, he honed a message about making government work again and finding “authentic, truthful leadership.”
Biden is also talking to friends, family and donors about jumping in. The 72-year-old vice president has been having meetings at his Washington residence to explore the idea of taking on Hillary in Iowa and New Hampshire.
He gets along with Hillary and has always been respectful of the Democratic Party’s desire to make more history by putting the first woman in the Oval Office.
But going through the crucible of the loss of his oldest son, Beau, to brain cancer made the vice president consider the quest again.
As a little boy, Beau helped get his father through the tragedy of losing his first wife and 13-month-old daughter in the car crash that injured Beau and his brother, Hunter.
When Beau realized while sick with cancer that he was not going to make it, he asked his father whether he had a minute to sit down and talk.
“Of course, honey,” the vice president replied.
At the table, Beau told his dad he was worried about him.
My kid’s dying, an anguished Joe Biden thought to himself, and he’s making sure I’m OK.
“Dad, I know you don’t give a damn about money,” Beau told him, dismissing the idea that his father would take some sort of cushy job after the vice presidency to cash in.
The right side of Beau’s face was partially paralyzed. But he had a mission: He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.
Hunter also pushed his father, telling him, “Dad, it’s who you are.”
It could be awkward for President Barack Obama, who detoured from the usual route — supporting your vice president — and basically passed the torch to Hillary. Some in Obama’s circle do not understand why he laid out the red carpet for his former rivals. “He has no idea how much the Clintons dislike him,” said one former top White House official.
But the president has been so tender and supportive to his vice president ever since learning that Beau was sick, it’s hard to say how he will react. Since the funeral, Obama has often kept a hand on Biden’s back, as if to give him strength.
When Beau was dying, the family got rubber bracelets in blue — his favorite color — that said “WWBD” (“What Would Beau Do”), honoring the fact that Beau was a stickler for doing the right thing.
Joe Biden knows what Beau wants. Now he just has to decide if it’s who he is.
Maureen Dowd writes for The New York Times.