Today, practicing Catholics are coping without an infallible Pope. Must professional Democrats always have an inevitable Clinton to follow?
For the time being, “Yes, buster” is the Sound Observer’s answer when talking about the next president, according to Scott Conroy in Real Clear Politics.
Conceivably, “others” will start getting “active.” It’s a free country. But we must be patient: 2013 will be used up waiting for Hillary Clinton to rest up, create her own profit center in the Clinton Empire of memoir-writing and motivational speaking, nurture and prune her cadre of insiders, and decide whether she wants to be the next president of the United States.
Hillary Clinton is not an incumbent president, Conroy reminds us sternly. She is, however, an “almost president” who could “freeze the field.” Clinton strategist Doug Hathaway suspects that eventually there will be a race. For now, however, no one is prepared to accept that, yes, there will be primaries, challengers, and, for heaven's sakes, divisive issues along the way. Those “others” will become “increasingly visible”; who knows what they’d have to say.
Let’s assume that the Freeze for Hillary Clinton Campaign lasts through the spring; and when it melts away, let’s enjoy ourselves.
The closest Democrats truly have to an “almost president” is Al Gore: he looks as healthy as Hillary Clinton, has published more books than all the Clintons combined, and is as opinionated as they come about what Obama and next president must do. Still, he’s not even qualified to be one of the “others.”
Hillary Clinton’s strength on paper is highly flammable.
According to Quinnipiac’s latest poll, she’d beat all the best-known Republican challengers winning around 50% of the vote. With a personal profile as high as Barack Obama’s—without four years of having to say or do anything unpleasant on a wide range of unpleasant domestic issues—she’d do just as well as Obama. Wow.
Hillary Clinton was a great pick and was an industrious Secretary of State; and she is an intelligent woman. These two characteristics are advantages, unquestionably, but they’re not keys to the presidency or, together, settle who is the best candidate for president.
If luck holds for Obama—and the world—foreign-policy discussion could be even less exciting in 2016 than it was in 2012. It’s widely agreed that electing a women is overdue. However, women don’t get special favors in today’s labor market.
Two big questions about 2016 can’t be honestly answered now: the state of mind of the Democratic Party and Clinton’s vitality in 2016.
Whatever you think of President Ronald Reagan retrospectively or hear about how Hillary wore out her younger staff in her last job, we can’t be sure about the future vitality of anyone who is 65 today. It’s polite, but it’s dishonest to avoid the question. And it doesn’t allow for a firm answer—an “inevitable” candidate.
Most important, the Democrats need a good fight about the future. A range of candidates—appealing to their Party’s silent left, smug center, and silent right—need to express new ideas and need to be called out when they say stale things.
Four most of this frustrating century, Democrats have cut their teeth fighting “nutty” Republicans. However, in 2016, they may very likely face an electable Republican and will definitely have to explain why many of the problems that they always say are so important are as big in 2016 as they were a decade earlier, when the Republican tide started to pull out.
On health costs, pubic service performance, domestic security, surveillance and civil rights, tax reform, middle class jobs, social mobility, schooling for poor families, the resources left to the states and cities and the resources spent in Washington, on higher taxes and less generous services, Democrats will have a record to explain-—and transcend.
They won’t be able to run yet another election rallying voters to protect what they have from those who want to go back to a rapidly receding past.