I’ve had evolving opinions of Hillary Clinton throughout her career. When she was First Lady, I didn’t care for her much. When she was one of my Senators from New York, I began warming to her, but that waned when she was running against my then-idol, Barack Obama. But, since she’s been Secretary of State, I have a newfound respect for her bordering on awe.
I’m going to do something here I castigate others for, and talk not even about this upcoming election, but 2016, and I’m going to violate most of my own guidelines and speculate wildly (but optimistically).
Hillary Clinton, were she to run for President in 2016, would be in a position no other candidate has ever been. As a former occupant of the White House, former Senator and former Secretary of State, she would bring to the Oval Office a skill set that no other candidate can claim. Her experience, both at the sidelines as an observer and active participant, in the formulation of American policy over the past twenty years, both on the state and national levels, both legislatively and from the executive branch and both domestically and internationally, gives her such a wide leg up over any other possible President that the dreams progressives have chased for the past 70 years may actually be within reach.
So why talk about Hillary and not the President? The President, despite whatever’s he tried, has found nothing but stonewalling and obstruction from Congressional Republicans. Whatever its genesis (and I won’t get into my own theories here) Republicans’ position was incredibly strengthened by the Great Recession. It effectively gave the President two years to move the most ambitious legislative agenda that we’ve seen since the mid 1960s. The problem was that agenda didn’t take the edge off of the economic pain that gave conservative Republicans such traction with the electorate. The results of the 2010 election made it so that the President was left to largely make ceremonial speeches against Republican obfuscation, focus on foreign policy and prepare for his reelection.
But let’s think for a minute about what’s going to happen if he’s reelected. Okay, Obama wins by a much slimmer margin than he took in 2008. Let’s go one further and say that the Democrats hold onto the Senate (a proposition very much in doubt) and that the Republicans hold the House (as looks virtually certain). Then what? With their hold on the House still virtually guaranteed, we face another four years until the country has a functioning federal government due to Republican partisanship.
In the meantime, Hillary’s mum on her intentions. She’s said, in no uncertain terms, that she does not want to make another run at the White House. Which, in political speak, means nothing. I think she’s smart on this count, as if you create the appearance of being drafted to be the Democratic standard bearer, that bolsters the campaign. Candidates who appear desperate to be the President just come off as kind of pathetic. All the while, she’s doing her job as Secretary of State, and doing it well, burnishing the last weak spot she had on her resume, which was foreign affairs.
In my next post, I’m going to write a bit more about what a potential election would look like and, were she to win, what her administration would look like and do.