SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

November 7, 2013

Hillary’s inevitability, again

Clinton may not be inevitable nominee

Commentary

Frank Bruni

Hillary Clinton, of all people, knows how political fortunes turn on a dime. But she must be puzzled nonetheless, and spooked, that over a six-month period when she made no big news whatsoever, her popularity took a double-digit tumble.

A poll released last week by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal charted the decline. It found that the percentage of Americans who view her favorably had dropped to 46 from 56. The percentage with unfavorable views had risen, less strikingly, to 33 from 29.

Here we go. The beginning of the end of her inevitability.

It’s about time, because the truth, more apparent with each day, is that she has serious problems as a potential 2016 presidential contender.

In the wake of the federal shutdown, in the midst of the Obamacare meltdown, voter disgust with business as usual is at the kind of peak that ensures more than the usual share of surprises in the next few elections. In one recent poll, 60 percent of Americans said that they’d like to see everyone in Congress, including their own representatives, replaced; in another, a similar majority hankered for a third party.

These unusually big numbers suggest a climate in which someone who has been front and center in politics for nearly a quarter-century won’t make all that many hearts beat all that much faster. Voters are souring on familiar political operators, especially those in, or associated with, Washington. That’s why Clinton has fallen. She’s lumped together with President Barack Obama, with congressional leaders, with the whole reviled lot of them.

And some of the ways in which she stands out from the lot aren’t flattering. She comes with a more tangled political history of gifts bestowed, favors owed, ironclad allegiances and ancient feuds than almost any possible competitor does. We’ve had frequent reminders of that: in the Anthony Weiner saga; in reports of mismanagement at the Clinton Foundation;   in coverage of Terry McAuliffe’s bid to become Virginia’s governor .

We’ve also had glimpses of the Clintons as an entrenched, entitled ruling class. To a degree that has turned off even some of the couple’s loyalists, Bill and Hillary have been unabashed lately in their coronation of Chelsea as the Clinton in waiting, the heir to the throne.

They renamed the family’s foundation to give her billing equal to theirs, with Hillary telling New York magazine that Chelsea’s elevation was “in the DNA.” They tug Chelsea onto pedestal after pedestal, tucking her into the folds of their own glory.

And it works. In an interview in September, Piers Morgan asked Bill Clinton whether Hillary or Chelsea would make the better president.   “Over the long run, Chelsea,” Bill said. “She knows more than we do about everything.”

Such dynastic musings square oddly with what’s shaping up as an anti-establishment passage of American politics, and the Clintons’ overexposure is a dicey fit for the revved-up metabolism of the Twitter era, which wants next, more, new.

Hillary’s shot at shattering the ultimate glass ceiling, an overdue milestone, might be newness enough. But would she be spared a potentially disruptive challenger from the left in the Democratic primaries?

And what would the argument for a Hillary presidency be? Something interesting happens when you ask Democrats why her in 2016. They say that it’s time for a woman, that she’ll raise oodles of dough, that other potentially strong candidates won’t dare take her on. The answers are about the process more than the person or any vision she has for the country. There’s no poetry in them. That’s not good.

“Competence,” said one prominent Democratic strategist, articulating Hillary’s promise. “And by the end of Obama’s second term, that may be more than enough.”

She sailed high as secretary of state because, apart from Benghazi, she could and did position herself mostly above the partisan fray. The hellcat had become a cool cat, wearing shades instead of thick glasses, the meme of all memes.

But nine months since she left that job, it’s hard to pinpoint what, other than all those dutiful miles she logged, her legacy is. She has returned to her earth, and it’s a fickle place.

One of the widely circulated nuggets from the just-published book Double Down: Game Change 2012 is that Obama’s advisers considered knocking Joe Biden off the ticket and putting Hillary on. The anecdote has been cast as an insult to Biden.

But he remained, because internal research apparently suggested that Obama wouldn’t get a meaningful bump.

What does that say about Hillary?

Frank Bruni writes for The New York Times.

(My Comment:

While I am most decidedly a fan of Frank Bruni. I would venture to say that he is not agreeable with a sense  of inevitability with regard to Hillary’s prospects in 2016. Have to admit that I do agree with much of what  he has posited here, tho, I most assuredly have no sense of vitriol toward this capable,  accomplished and some what favored political figure. She comports herself well — she is just not my choice as I have stated a couple of times now. 

Most recently;   8-16-13  “Hillary, not a shoo-in 4 me”  in a comment to Jonah Goldberg’s article and earlier — 4-21-13  “We’re sour on economy”  In both of these I have expressed my views on the seemingly incomparable Elizabeth Warren and her stellar career as a distinguished Harvard Law professor, specializing in bankruptcy law.  Her background, coming up as she did through the middle class equips her well and perhaps better than most to understand the hardships people face in today’s hard economic climate (for the under-privileged), and why no doubt, that she felt compelled to build the Consumer’s Financial Protection Agency for President Obama.   Many found it disgraceful that she was shunted aside after  Wall Street’s firestorm and the White House replaced her with Cordray who was welcomed by Warren. 

She ran for and won Ted Kennedy’s old seat and there is no moss growing on the turf around her.  She speaks up on almost everything.  The woman is a dynamo and one wonders how she does it all.  Pop her name into any browser and you’ll get an idea of what moves her and keeps her going.  One doesn’t have to pin labels  like ‘populism’ on her for her life speaks clearly that these are the things which motivate her — trying to bring fairness to all our people.  This is a family woman with stunning ethics, creativity and brilliance.   

There is no question in my mind that our country has many, many other fully capable and qualified women out there who could probably do this job and I strongly feel that others should be looked at instead of this obsession to put Hillary up because why?. . . everyone thinks its right?. . .it’s time?. . . .it’s time for a woman?. . . I agree — it’s time for a woman!   Make my day. . . please.    Jan)

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