Watching Hillary Clinton answer questions from Christiane Amanpour for 44 minutes is not exactly torture; it's more like being forced to swallow a gallon of cold porridge.
Let's leave personalities aside. Clinton's is not very appealing to me (nor is Donald Trump's). But let's pull back the lens and consider what, if anything, is to be learned about the current state of progressivism from this chat between two left-leaning women.
The setting was a conference sponsored by Women for Women International, a charity founded to help women survivors of war. It gets three out of four stars on Charity Navigator, and doubtless does some good (though people truly interested in doing the most good for impoverished and war-ravaged people might want to study William Easterly's cautionary books, including "The Tyranny of Experts").
When Hillary Clinton made some stock comments about women's rights around the world being "central to democracy" and all other good things, the audience vibrated its approval.
Christiane Amanpour saw her opening and pounced. But don't you think, she demanded, that misogyny and sexism remain problems here? And were you a victim of them? Now the crowd was getting excited. Clinton smiled and stroked her temple. But then Amanpour seemed to vitiate her own question. Before Clinton could reply, Amanpour asked why she thought she lost a majority of the votes of white women.
Unless Amanpour was implying that white women are laboring under what feminists and Marxists used to call "false consciousness" — i.e., they've been brainwashed by the power structure to vote against their own true interests — the very fact that so many women contributed to Clinton's loss would seem to point to causes other than misogyny, no?
Clinton then treated the audience to limp, lifeless talking points about women and empowerment. It would have been a "big deal" to be the first woman president, she declared, not just for "our daughters and granddaughters and sons" but "especially internationally." It seems that in the course of her career, she has traveled to villages and "down dusty roads" where poor women scratch out an existence. These places were far from the "palaces" and government centers. Uh-huh.
And those are the people who would have been inspired by the election of a wealthy, white, corrupt, husband's coattail-riding, Goldman Sachs-speech-giving former secretary of state?
Oops. I said I wouldn't get into personalities. But it's relevant for this reason: Christiane Amanpour and the New York audience really do think that there is a straight line from the women in war-torn Sudan to female, college-graduate applicants for positions at Google in Pittsburgh. Men victimize women. Period. Hillary Clinton's defeat cannot be understood except as a symptom of this global disorder — and it afflicts the U.S. just as much as rural Afghanistan.
Sensing the hunger of the audience, Clinton riffed on unequal pay — that vampire of political myths that cannot be killed despite multiple stakes through the heart.
So on the subject of women, Clinton was crashingly dull as well as utterly wrong. And on other subjects, she revealed just how played out the progressive agenda is. She complained that candidate Trump was never asked "exactly how are you going to create more jobs," adding, "I was ready for that moment."
Now, I had severe reservations about many of candidate Trump's positions, but no, Clinton wasn't ready. In the first place, if she had ideas to offer, why did she need to wait for a journalist to open the discussion? Second, when she did itemize her plans for reviving the economy for Amanpour, they were practically content-free. We must invest in "comprehensive job training and education." It cannot be done through "massive tax cuts for people like me." "We need a strategy," she proclaimed, but, then, she didn't say what that would entail. Sometimes she simply mouthed Barack Obama's old talking points. We needed to invest in "wind and solar" — the "Chinese are eating our lunch in the solar market" because "they are investing in the jobs of the future."
Nope. As Bjorn Lomborg explains, "Even in 2040, even if everyone does everything they've promised at the Paris climate summit, the world will get just 2.4 percent of its energy from solar and wind."
Some of what Hillary Clinton said was (uncharacteristically) probably true: Putin did put a thumb on the scale. Comey's letter did sway undecideds. What this latest interview makes clear, though, is that in addition to her other woes, Hillary Clinton had no policy substance to offer. It was progressive boilerplate all the way down — and I'm not a misogynist for saying so.