It's not often the mainstream media acknowledges the elephant in the room, let alone shines a spotlight on the poor pachyderm.
But The New York Times did just that on Monday, running a story headlined: "Hillary and Bill Clinton Go Separate Ways for 2018 Midterm Elections."
And that was as nice as the Times could possibly be, because the headline just as easily could have been: "The Clintons Are Done, Nobody Wants Them Near In 2018."
The piece starts out with a little nostalgia, noting that the Clintons were once "the most powerful brand in Democratic politics." Then it turns dark.
But in the 2018 election campaign, Hillary and Bill Clinton have veered in sharply different directions. Mrs. Clinton appears determined to play at least a limited role in the midterms, bolstering longtime allies and raising money for Democrats in safely liberal areas. Her husband has been all but invisible.
And both have been far less conspicuous than in past election cycles, but for different reasons: Mrs. Clinton faces distrust on the left, where she is seen as an avatar of the Democratic establishment, and raw enmity on the right. Mr. Clinton has been largely sidelined amid new scrutiny of his past misconduct with women.
Yes, the Times is, after all these years, admitting that Bubba has had some "past misconduct with women" (well, if you call rape "misconduct").
The story then declares that the couple "reeks of the past and [Democrats] fear that their unpopularity with conservative-leaning and independent voters could harm Democrats in close races." Ouch. As evidence, the piece points out that while there is a Democratic primary election for a Republican-held House seat in Little Rock, Ark. — where the two were once from before they became New Yorkers — not a single one of the four candidates running "has reached out to seek the Clintons’ support."
“I see the Clintons as a liability,” said Paul Spencer, a high school teacher running as a progressive in the Arkansas race. “They simply represent the old mind-set of a Democratic Party that is going to continue to lose elections.”
The Times says Hillary will play "at least a limited role in the midterms," but not so for Bill. "Mrs. Clinton’s husband appears far less welcome on the trail, with his unpopularity among Republicans compounded by new skepticism on the left about his treatment of women and allegations of sexual assault."
"Mr. Clinton is said to remain passionately angry about the 2016 election — more so than his wife — raising concerns that he could go wildly off message in campaign settings, several people who have spoken with Mr. Clinton said," the Times reports.
Sounds about right.
As for Hillary, "Associates of Mrs. Clinton said she is aware of the political pressures that make her unwelcome in red states, and they do not expect her to charge into races where she is undesired." Perhaps it's because they want to win, rather than go down in defeat as two-time loser Hillary did.
Either way, the Times story is a clear shot across the Clintons' bow: Stay away. And the fact that the most prominent liberal outlet has written the piece means that candidates across the country can simply point to it when saying, "Yeah, no."
It's about time.