April 17, 2013

Hillary the Inevitable? Not So Fast.

For the innumerable faults of the mainstream media there is one thing that they can do better than anyone; set and parrot the conventional wisdom. The idea that “Hillary Clinton is a done deal for 2016” is one that they have latched onto with glee. It makes sense really. At a certain level there is some guilt amongst them for having so openly cheered on Obama during the 2008 primaries (giving Hillary a small sampling of the bias that Republicans always have to contend with), and the other part is history. They helped elect the first African-American President, now it’s time to elect the first liberal woman President. I say liberal woman President because if anyone believes that the media would so openly root for Susana Martinez or Nikki Haley, I have a ski resort in Orlando to sell you. So as is their wont, the media is in full Hillary 2016 mode; she’s inevitable, she’s wildly popular, she’d win in a landslide, Republicans would stand no chance, and the Democratic nomination is nothing but a coronation. If any of this sounds familiar that’s because we heard the same song-and-dance back in 2005 as Clinton pondered running in 2008. She was all those things back then too.

Now, I’m not saying that Hillary, if she decides to run (which is a big if in my opinion, more on that later) won’t be the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination. She certainly will be, but therein lies one of her problems. Democrats simply don’t like to pick their front-runners. Since 1972 when the modern primary system came into effect, there have been 8 Democratic primaries where the incumbent President has not run. In those 8 contests only twice has the Democratic front-runner went on to win; 1984 with Walter Mondale, and in 2000 with Al Gore. Both cases involved a Vice President, and Fritz Mondale nearly lost in 1984 to Gary Hart.

But, you say, Hillary is so popular with the country, the Democrats would be crazy to not nominate her. If Clinton’s popularity was based on actual accomplishment, then yes we should be worried. But it isn’t. Clinton’s popularity right now is based on a carefully crafted narrative; that of the well accomplished, wildly successfully, moderate Secretary of State. It’s all a fantasy. Look at the world we live in; a hyper-aggressive North Korea, Syria in a bloody civil war, Egypt in turmoil, the Palestinians even more useless than usual, the Eurozone collapsing, frost between the US and Israel, China on the ascent, and Iranian centrifuges still working. Is Hillary Clinton responsible for all of this? No, but they all happened or started happening while she was nominally the top US official besides the President in charge of foreign policy. Candidate Clinton would have to answer for every single one of those things. Not to mention the worst one of all, when a mob of savages murdered four Americans, including our Ambassador in Benghazi. The best Hillary Clinton could come up with at the Senate hearing on it was “what difference does it make?” The perception of Clinton is far stronger than the reality of Clinton’s tenure at Foggy Bottom.

The other problem for Clinton is the one that plagued her in 2008; the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Liberals rejected Clinton for two main reasons; one of them was her vote to authorize the War in Iraq. The second one is far more dangerous long term for Clinton. The second reason liberals rejected her was because they were tired of running a Bill Clinton “Third Way” or triangulation campaign. They wanted to win as liberals. This was fundamentally at odds with the Clinton strategy. Clinton felt that even in the primaries, she had to at least talk like a moderate so as not to scare off independents for the fall campaign. That was unacceptable to the left-wing of the Party and they cast their eyes about looking for a liberal alternative. They found one, and he is now President of the United States.

President Obama’s two victories have also taught the left a seductive lesson, one that is very hard to forget; that a liberal, running as a liberal, can win a general election without having to moderate or move to the center. Looking to the Obama example in 2008 and 2012, liberals in the Democratic Party will want their 2016 nominee to be a person of the left. Much like right-wing Republicans who think that we can just reprint the 1980 party platform every cycle and win, the left in the Democratic Party will do the same thing. This type of analysis of course ignores a ton of the factors that go into the election of a President, but it is the lesson those people learn because it is the lesson they want to learn.

This will hurt Clinton because the rest of the would-be Democratic field has already moved left or was always on the left. Andrew Cuomo in New York veered hard left earlier this year with vast new gun control legislation. Elizabeth Warren thinks that banks and Wall Street are the root of all evil. John Hickenlooper in Colorado signed new gun restrictions and is Governor of the state that legalized marijuana. Even Joe Biden has been making noise to please the left. And perhaps the most dangerous one of them all, Martin O’Malley of Maryland has compiled a long list of left-wing accomplishments; raised taxes, abolished the death penalty, and legalized gay marriage to name a few. In short, if the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is still suspicious of Hillary Clinton and the Clintonite Third-Way, there are definitely alternatives out there. And some of those people, particularly O’Malley, will not step aside for Clinton. The aura of invincibility is something that, once gone, is impossible to get back. And Hillary lost it when she lost the nomination in 2008.

Finally, there is no guarantee that Hillary will run anyways. This is usually dismissed as wishful thinking, but I don’t think so. Clinton suffered a relatively serious health scare recently; God willing it’ll be the last, but you just don’t know with that kind of stuff, particularly at her age. Clinton will be 69 years old in 2016 and she knows how physically taxing not only campaigning but actually governing the country is. All she has to do is remember what her husband looked like in 1992 and what he looked like in 2000; the Presidency ages the person who holds the office. Perhaps Clinton will feel that she physically cannot do the job to the best of her ability? Also, there is the legacy argument; as has been stated before she is currently very popular with broad sections of the public. This will not last in the intensity of a presidential campaign. Both her Democratic opponents and whoever we Republicans nominate will comb through her long record, find something, and bludgeon her with it. This vote in the Senate or that comment to the Prime Minister of such-and-such. Why would Clinton want to risk her popularity and star power on one last shot at the brass ring? Why not simply stay the beloved elder stateswoman?

At this point, I have no idea how 2016 is going to play out, and those who say that they are certain are fools and delusional. Four years is an eternity in politics. Old faces will fade away, new ones will come to the forefront, issues that we never thought would be important suddenly are, or the electorate will suddenly want someone with a certain type of experience, who knows? That’s the point; those who already have Hillary Clinton writing her convention acceptance speech and measuring the drapes for the Oval Office are looking at 2016 from the viewpoint of 2013. And that is nothing but folly.

by @ 12:00 am. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Hillary Clinton
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40 Responses to “Hillary the Inevitable? Not So Fast.”

  1. Jerald Says:

    Jonathan,

    You are correct.

    And there is a very good chance the current liberal in office will economically blow up the country by 2014 and bring independents over to the conservative side.

    I’m still not sure the country will ever be right of center again, but maybe the current stupid spell of Americans is curable, even if only temporarily–if they suffer enough pain first…

  2. John Says:

    I am really not an anti-republican, but do you think abolishing death penalty and gun control is something wrong? How many thousands of lives we lose every year only because of guns being in the hands of anybody willing to have one? Experience and history have proven countries with the most strict gun control laws enjoy the highest social security and the least human life loses. Finally, do you think hanging or executing a human being is something correct that it being abolished is the left’s tyranny?

    I would be grateful if somebody provides me with an answer.
    tnx

  3. Guy from Ohio Says:

    Coming from an active democratic volunteer and party man, I’d bet my house that Hillary is going to win the nomination. If I had to guess, I’d say its going to be a 2004 like primary when its all said and done. So otherwise “not even close.”

  4. emma43 Says:

    I really wish I could agree with you but alas I cannot. With allowance made for my youth and inexperience, it seems to me that parties either select a celebrity candidate or there is an open field. It is almost impossible to be a celebrity candidate (in the primary.)

    And Hillary isn’t Bill Clinton. She’s is unabashedly left and should be a far more savvy and formidable opponent than the current guy in office if she is elected (which is highly probably given the current state of the Republican party).

    Not to say we can’t win, but we won’t the longer we allow the left to take the morally superior (aka feel-good) position on every issue. Politics is kind of like providing a product and left has got a way cooler PR team than us.

  5. MarqueG Says:

    Some minor unsolicited copy editing:

    In those 8 contests only twice has the Democratic front-runner went gone on to win;

    Also check semicolon usage. It normally replaces an and+comma combining sentences. Use a colon when introducing specific examples:

    …the media is in full Hillary 2016 mode[:] she’s inevitable, [etc.]…

    In those 8 contests only twice has the Democratic front-runner went on to win[:] 1984 with Walter Mondale, and in 2000 with Al Gore.

    President Obama’s two victories have also taught the left a seductive lesson, one that is very hard to forget[:] that a liberal, running as a liberal, can win a general election [...]

    Colons are for [Group: list of parts] or [Concept: example].

  6. MarqueG Says:

    Having cleaned up the Internet, I thank you for throwing some cold water on the advance coronation of Hilary: America’s first woman president.

    Her recent moves to embrace gay marriage, to write a second memoir, and to hit the high-dollar lecture circuit suggest that she wants to run. But it’s not inconceivable that life throws some obstacles in her path. And we’ve seen her assume that she’d be president back in 2007/8. Remember how her campaign attacked Giuliani — another pre-assumed nominee — back before either party had actually held a primary?

    It’s quite possible that her campaign skills are inadequate, that her campaign instincts are bad, and that her inner circle of operatives are incompetent when it comes to running a national campaign. The latter bunch were bested by Obama’s team of relative newbies, after all.

  7. jnarq Says:

    I think it’s naive to think that the fact that her “narrative” isn’t MORE than enough to carry her all the way to the White House. The allure of going back to back first black/first woman will be irresistible for the media and the progressives.

    We can’t forget that today’s progressives don’t actually believe what they say and vote for. They act left wing, but they’re mostly hipsters who just believe what their celebrity activist twitter feed tells them to believe.

    She’ll run, she’ll win. The only way it doesn’t happen is if by some miracle a candidate emerges right-of-center that connects with the American people and who can somehow not get “primaried”. We all know that won’t happen.

  8. MarqueG Says:

    And Hillary isn’t Bill Clinton.

    No, she isn’t. And as such, she lacks some of Bill’s natural talents: raw charisma and the ability to exude compassion and empathy in speeches. Have you heard Hil? Her flat and emotionless, plodding style of speaking are more likely to put an audience to sleep than to inspire them.

    She’s is unabashedly left and should be a far more savvy and formidable opponent than the current guy in office if she is elected (which is highly probably given the current state of the Republican party).

    She will certainly enjoy a push from the media eager to “make history.” But she has some strange quirks that even the media can’t hide. For instance, she doesn’t really know how to emote in a way that doesn’t sound off-key. Jonathan invokes the example of her Benghazi testimony when she tried to evoke anger demanding “What difference, at this point, does it make?” to a thoroughly unaggressive question from Senator Johnson. If you followed the 2008 primary, you may recall her rather grating habit of responding to difficult questions by initially bursting out into a loud cackle.

    Right now she looks great on paper to a lot of party activists and pundits. But they’re forgetting how forced and fake she can be in her presentation.

  9. jersey guy Says:

    1. Its still a center right country. Obama won center right minority voters by heavy margins. They voted for him based on emotions not on his policies.
    As for Hillary, I don’t think she’s running. Democrats live on identity politics so it’s safe to assume that a far left woman will get the nomination in 16. Maybe Eliz Warren, K Gillibrand, Barbara Boxer, Tammy Baldwin,Amy Klobachur, Kathleen Sibelius,Jennifer granholm, Claire Mccaskill, Maggie Hassan,or Patty Murray. The thought of any of these left wing hacks being president gives me the creeps.

  10. blues Says:

    I’d go with the only way hillary won’t run is if she or her husband has a health problem/ scandal or the economy tanks to the point the odds are heavily stacked against dems. If the environment is somewhat negative to neutral to favorable to them there is no way team clinton is gonna go, well i don’t want to be president after all and not run. Is she a lock to win the nomination under such circumstances, most likely, don’t really see a force that could beat her in the nomination process. Personally, i think her senate replacement, sen Gillibrand, would be a better pick for dems but the clintons will have things on lockdown.

  11. blues Says:

    I also think the odds are pretty good in 2016 a strong 3rd party ticket runs. My guess is jon huntsman will skip the GOP nomination process and run 3rd party with a former dem/ dem as his running mate, i.e. somebody like Mo Cowan or artur davis could really shake the obama coalition up. If you had a fully funded Huntsman/davis ticket going against hillary/? and say jeb bush/female veep that could be a close 3 way race. I could see lots of folks sick of the bush and clinton crowns and go 3rd party. Throw in the black vote, i doubt hillary picks a black veep, not going all in for the dem ticket, it would be fun to watch.

  12. Thomas Alan Says:

    I just don’t think she’ll run. She’s just getting old.

    If she runs, frankly she is inevitable to win the Democrat nomination at minimum. There’s just no one on the Democrat side remotely capable of stopping her. O’Malley? Please. Plus, I expect Obama to be very unpopular come 2016. So she may be the only “electable” choice available.

  13. Thomas Alan Says:

    I also think the odds are pretty good in 2016 a strong 3rd party ticket runs. My guess is jon huntsman

    I’m sorry…I thought you just said “strong” 3rd party ticket.

    Throw in the black vote, i doubt hillary picks a black veep

    Pfft. You kidding me? The Democrat will win the black vote even if we ran Obama as a Republican next cycle.

  14. blues Says:

    In such a setup, some of the black vote isn’t going to the repub party but rather the 3rd party. Huntsman should have plenty of money to take advantage of:

    http://www.americanselect.org/

    i don’t give huntsman much chance to win the GOP primary so why wouldn’t he try to run 3rd party in 2016? more so if its a bush and clinton race in 2016. I like the odds of a huntsman/davis or cowan ticket.

  15. RC Says:

    Inevitable? Yes. Let’s not fool ourselves, but prepare to defeat her!

  16. RC Says:

    12.

    She’s younger than Romney

  17. RC Says:

    Besides, that’s a demo the Dems are hoping to do better in — older females or older males

  18. Thomas Alan Says:

    16:

    Yeah, she’s a good 5 months younger than Romney. But Romney could plausible pass as being in his 40s if he needed to and showed so few signs of flagging vitality that his age never became a campaign issue outside of the “old white guys” slur. Clinton’s not aged well at all, and her body, healthwise, looks to be breaking down as well.

    And 2016 is a good 4 years older than 2012. She’ll be 69 by the time election day 2016 roles around.

  19. Matthew Kilburn Says:

    Full text of the immigration bill:

    http://www.schumer.senate.gov/forms/immigration.pdf

  20. Thomas Alan Says:

    14:

    What would possibly make you believe that blacks will vote for Jon Huntsman? I’m sorry, but that’s just a ridiculous statement.

  21. emma Says:

    8. When I said Hillary wasn’t Bill I was more speaking to her motivations. Bill, is mostly about Bill, while Hillary is a true believer in “progressivism”. Not that Bill isn’t but I think he’d be content to choose a bunch of woman/hedonism over political advancement if given the choice. My fault for not being more clear in my thoughts.

    I definitely agree that Hillary isn’t able to emotionally connect the way Bill is, but whether of not that will hamstring her to defeat is yet to be seen. And she is not the “smartest woman in the world”. But those two have not held on for so long by being fools.

    But her own anti-charisma could definitely not help, but the media will shield as they always do their darlings. Whether or not the Rep. overcome it is largely in their court. We could have won the last election, but we didn’t address corruption, misrepresentation, allusion vs. reality properly ect. ect.

  22. Nimbostratus Says:

    Look at the world we live in; a hyper-aggressive North Korea, Syria in a bloody civil war, Egypt in turmoil, the Palestinians even more useless than usual, the Eurozone collapsing, frost between the US and Israel, China on the ascent, and Iranian centrifuges still working. Is Hillary Clinton responsible for all of this? No, but they all happened or started happening while she was nominally the top US official besides the President in charge of foreign policy. Candidate Clinton would have to answer for every single one of those things. Not to mention the worst one of all, when a mob of savages murdered four Americans, including our Ambassador in Benghazi.

    All true. But here’s the thing. It doesn’t make any difference. It will be Hillary’s turn. She will be running against another old white dude. And if anyone disagrees that it really is her turn then those old fuddy duddies are going to be outed as the sexist bigots they are.

    At least that’s how the media will sell it. And it will work.

    You know why? Because the left controls the culture and the left controls the media. Because there will be an active and unrelenting social media and cable news smear campaign against any GOPer and because the electorate has shifted so much it’s my firm belief that there are not enough thinking Americans left to overcome this, unless Hillary totally flops. And she won’t because she’s been around long enough and has too many smart people around her.

    It really is hopeless. No one thinks on their own anymore. And its because of the tentacles of media and liberal opinion leaders that are now pervasive in life.

    Here’s an exercise: Go onto facebook and write about how gay marriage is an abomination or how illegal immigrants don’t deserve citizenship. Watch the herd mentality that will ensue. How does any Republican overcome this without compromising principle? And then when said Republican compromises principle he is just Democrat-lite.

    I don’t see Republicans winning any elections for a long time. And it sucks.

  23. Nimbostratus Says:

    As to the arguments about Hillary losing to a more radical liberal Dem in the primary, then sure, I guess that’s possible.

    But remember, Hillary got MORE VOTES than Obama in the 2008 primary. The only reason he squeaked by after months and months is because he bank rolled the black vote in every southern state and racked up delegates based on the color of his skin.

    Hil won’t be that unlucky next time.

  24. Viking Says:

    For the Dem primary, very very hard to see how she loses. Now, as per the general, she definitely have the upper hand, and more so if Christie is not the nominee. But four years is a long time.

  25. Thomas Alan Says:

    You know why? Because the left controls the culture and the left controls the media.

    That, and our side seems to be quite keen on verifying that slander by getting completely caught up in the politics of demographics and pandering.

  26. Martha Says:

    I agree with Nimbostratus.

    IMO age is not a factor for Hillary. I don’t see any signs of diminished ambition in her. Heck, it’s within her grasp to be pres, and the first female one at that! Age won’t stop her.

  27. Ryan60657 Says:

    Republican elected idiots continue the war against women:

    “LITTLETON, New Hampshire (Reuters) – A New Hampshire state representative apologized on Wednesday for using “vagina” as a synonym for “woman” in a mass email to lawmakers as part of a gun-law debate.”

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-newhampshire-womenbre93g0r9-20130417,0,7060669.story

  28. Long Island Republican Says:

    Arrest Made in Boston Marathon Bombings

    One Day After Ricin letter sent to Sen. Wicker(R-MS), Ricin letter intercepted by Secret Service bound for Obama.

    World is dark place lately. Lets hope for a good few months.

  29. blues Says:

    20- cause he would have a black veep pick, shallow but could be effective. If you read the premise of my post, you would see it would break down with bush, clinton and a 3rd party choice, huntsman in 2016. I see bush picking a veep female while not sure who clinton would pick but i doubt it would be black person. My guess is she would like to pick tom vilsack but not sure how effective that would be, i really have no idea who she would pick at this time. I see no reason why jon huntsman should bother with the GOP nomiatnon in 2016 but i see lot’s of reason’s why he should run 3rd party and i like him picking maybe:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artur_Davis

    as his running mate to go for a slice of the obama coalition.

  30. Enrique Says:

    I agree with Martha. See 26.

  31. TimothyOwl Says:

    29. why would huntsman run a campaign that he knew he would lose? Wouldn’t Huntsman ( a Republican) steal more votes from the Republican candidate than Democrats? Since Blacks love the Clintons almost as much as Obama, wouldn’t they just vote for Hillary, whom would have Bill and Obama campaigning for her? Why are you fixed upon this “strong” 3rd party idea that isn’t within the realm of reality? Who would want to vote for huntsman anyway? the guy acted like a total douche for 2012 and couldn’t even carry a single state.

  32. TimothyOwl Says:

    29. on the other John Huntsman with Herman Cain (the black veep) would make for a hilarious party.

  33. packeryman Says:

    The only GOP candidate that could even come close to making it a horse race with Hillary as Dem candidate, is Christi as GOP candidate, yes, many Independents and Moderates will vote Christi as some will vote Hillary.The problem is if the GOP were to run two hard right conservatives(especially if backed by tea baggers and social conservatives) all bets or off, then the GOP will go down to the greatest defeat in its history. As some posting have said, health and or some unfore scene incident, she appears to be a winner. With the political savvy of Bill and the community organizing operation of Obama, the PAC monies for another candidate would have to come from similar sources, its not going to happen. Then we have to ask what does the GOP offer women, gays, labor, minorities, youth, etc, except more legislation against their rights? A higher percentage of these groups will move toward the Dem’s due to the insane behavior of the far right in state legislatures controlled by Republicans. Standby, all these groups will put the hurt on the GOP with the vote.You guys still haven’t grasp the 2012 election, “a change is a coming”. You though the election of Obama was a nightmare from your small world view, then came a win(second term in bad economic times), you didn’t think this was possible. Now the Dem’s will in all probability take the 2016 election. Lets get real, some where along the way someone in this party has to decide it has to change or go the way of the Whigs.

  34. RC Says:

    29.

    Hillary will pick Booker or Patrick

    We are so doomed

  35. RC Says:

    “John Huntsman with Herman Cain”

    And lose Utah along with the other 49

  36. RC Says:

    33.

    Hillary/Booker v Christie/Rubio = fun

  37. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    Interesting read, Jonathan. I still think your argument on Hillary’s ideology holds little water. In general, ideological bloggers find themselves too invested in debating ideological positioning when in fact personality has everything to do with everything in politics. For instance, you mention that 2008 proved that liberals can win general elections as liberals. Well, to me what it proved was that anyone from any walk of life can win any election with the right personality. And as for Hillary’s personality, she is not really likeable, but she would be the first female president and has a lot of stature. I think if she runs, it’s almost a lost cause for Republicans. It will be hard for me to change my mind on this.

  38. blues Says:

    This could be the first thing i agree with the dude on… i drove a covair for one summer too and loved it:

    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/03/ralph-nader-billionaires-to-party-in-2016-89284.html

    huntsman might not be a B but his old man is and i think fits the bill for a 3rd party run. Why would huntsman do it? cause he would think he could win or at least get on stage for the debates. He has no chance to win the GOP primary, so might as well skip spring training and head for the world series. If its bush vs clinton, i can’t think of better cycle for a 3rd party type to run and offer an alternative. Pick a black veep from the south and try to slice up some of the vote.

  39. Enrique Says:

    I agree with Mass Con #37, except I think republicans have a narrow pathway with a combination of the right personalities, for example, a Rubio/Christie ticket (NOT the reverse of that), and the economy possibly tanking by 2016.

  40. Mary Says:

    A well-written piece of analysis by Jonathan. My guess is that Hillary Clinton will be too tired to run for president and want to spend more time with her family. And while we are sure to have a woman president fairly soon, I don’t think that a woman president would have the same “magic dust” quality that a black president had. The chief difference is that while we’ve known for years that a woman president is only a matter of when, not if, we didn’t have a similar feeling that a black president was inevitable. I remember in 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro was nominated for VP – in an era when there were far fewer women Governors or Senators than there are today. There was little excitement among women in general about her candidacy. The media was not able to generate excitement over her nomination. I don’t see them being able to do so for Hillary in 2016.

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