Going into 2016, she was supposed to be tanned, rested and ready, but it never seems to go as planned for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Katko fends off Democratic opponent in New York race Harris County GOP chairman who made racist Facebook post resigns MORE. What an irony that the young lawyer who in 1974 advised the House Judiciary Committee on impeachment is now the Richard Nixon of the 21st Century – a character to be viewed with suspicion.

Like Nixon, she’s admired for her intellect and competence, but there’s just always been something awkward about her relationship with the American electorate.


But that was all supposed to be in the past. Her First Lady controversies, missteps during the 2008 election, Barrack Obama’s "You're likeable enough, Hillary” slight – these were all water under the bridge and the country was “Ready for Hillary.” Heck, the Democrats seemed to view 2016 primaries as a needless exercise.

That’s all over now. Has there ever been a successful presidential candidate who’s made such a mess of their re-entry into American politics? Hillary Clinton has two less toes, having shot off one with the news of foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and another with revelations she managed her own email system.

And the bungling! If those two issues weren’t enough of a red flag, her handling of these missteps is reminding Americans that the good ol’ days of Clinton came with a price: needless drama, half-answers and refusal to take responsibility while firing up the 1990s attack machine for one last drive-by shooting of their “enemies.”

It’s becoming eerie how Nixonian Hillary Clinton is turning out to be. Tricky Dick was kicked around a bit as Eisenhower vice president and Kennedy’s 1960 opponent, but by the time he re-emerged in 1968 he was the “New Dick.” And that lasted just long enough for his paranoia, and darker angels, to resurface. No one ever doubted Nixon’s strategic brilliance, his understanding of power politics and ability to navigate policy issues. But he was an awkward, and ultimately, untrusted figure.

Hillary Clinton is edging dangerously close to this narrative. What happens next will determine her future. Will the public feel that they got to vet all her email from her State Department days – or will there be the equivalent of an “18 1/2 minute” gap of emails on controversial topics such as Benghazi?

America will also have to decide how it feels about the Clintons and money. It’s always been an uneasy relationship. Whitewater was ultimately about whether the Clintons were getting special treatment, her husband’s campaign dangled access to the Lincoln bedroom and White House coffees for big-money donors, and since 2000, the Clintons have earned tens of millions of dollars in speaking fees.

The latest, that the Clinton Foundation didn’t seem to have any qualms about taking bags of cash from Middle Eastern countries that don’t share her views about violence against women or even basic rights won’t help her 2016 case at all.

Can Hillary Clinton still win? Of course, and she probably will. Democrats have no alternative but to back her in 2016, short of even more damaging revelations. And even though she’s an awkward campaigner, she brings many assets to the table. 

But you wouldn’t have expected this performance from a seasoned political vet with over two decades of national experience. Or maybe we should have.

Those two decades of battle against enemies, real and imagined, have left Hillary Clinton gun-shy and paranoid. Her already insular instincts have been honed to bunker down and outlast the bastards (to use a Nixon phrase). What we are seeing now in her response to her troubles is Hillary Clinton’s natural response to attack.

The question America will have to ask is whether her obvious talents and skills are worth the drama that goes along with it. Ultimately the real question is: Do we really want to have Hillary Clinton to kick around anymore?

Galvin is a former political reporter for the New York Daily News. He is now founder of consulting firm 463 Communications.