Hillary Clinton began running for president the day after she lost the nomination to Barack Obama in 2008. At the time she didn’t know if her next opportunity would come in 2012 or 2016, but she knew she would run, and so did her loyal supporters on the left. But that was then and this is now. As often happens in politics, circumstances have changed. For Hillary Clinton, the political landscape is much rockier now than it was then. Nevertheless, the odds-on favorite for the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2008 is once again considered the odds-on favorite for 2016, but one should never forget what happened in 2008 and why.
Thanks to the failures of the Barack Obama administration, her own uninspiring record as Secretary of State, the perilous task of trying to distance herself from President Obama without alienating his supporters (don’t be fooled by insincere hug fests between Obama and Hillary), the unpredictability of her bad boy husband, the Clinton’s on-going feud with the Obamas over control of the Democratic Party, and a variety of other factors, Hillary faces even tougher odds in 2016 than she faced in 2008. As things are shaping up, Hillary Clinton’s time as a national politician may be slipping away from her. Her husband is still wildly popular with Democrats, but Hillary’s popularity with mainstream Democrats is slipping.
I will get to why I believe Hillary Clinton’s chances of being president are fading—thank goodness—but first some truth in advertising. In the early stages of discussions about 2016, I was one of the commentators who thought Hillary was unbeatable—certainly in the Democratic primaries and possibly in the general election. After all, the national polls showed her to be the easy frontrunner when compared with any other Democrat as well as all of the leading Republicans. However, I have been around politics long enough to know better than to put much stock in early polls. That is to say, I should have waited awhile before getting concerned about Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate. After all, in the run up to her primary defeat by Barack Obama, the early polls had her ahead by from 20 to 49 percent. So much for early polls. Now that there has been time for the realities of politics to begin having an effect, my worries about a Hillary Clinton candidacy are abating somewhat; although if the Democrats do not choose Hillary they will choose a candidate who is just as wedded to the destructive progressive agenda; though possibly not as polarizing.
As a political candidate, Hillary Clinton has some assets and some liabilities. The functional question then becomes which will outweigh the other—the assets or the liabilities? First a few words about Hillary’s political assets. She is politically astute, has universal name recognition, will receive favorable coverage from the left-leaning mainstream media, is a good fundraiser, and will benefit from the “first” phenomenon in the same way Barack Obama did (i.e. first woman president, first black president, etc.). In the primaries she will probably also benefit from the Bill factor. I use the qualifier probably because although the former president is still much more popular with Democrats than Barack Obama, one still never knows when he will engage in some out-of-the-blue self-destructive behavior that could undermine his wife’s campaign.
Now the liabilities. Hillary’s much touted autobiography is a yawner. If her intent was to use the book to set forth a presidential vision for America, she failed miserably. The autobiography succeeds only in showing that Hillary Clinton is a politician whose ideas are stale, her vision passé, and her time past. All of her issues are old and tired and her approaches for dealing with them are time worn. If she didn’t need the advance and subsequent royalties, Hillary would have been better off not writing an autobiography. And speaking of needing the money, her claim along those lines has become a liability too. In a time when unemployment remains stubbornly high and thousands of under-employed Americans are struggling—in spite of the president’s falsely optimistic distortions to the contrary—Hillary’s claim that she exited the White House broke rankles. Her husband’s six-figure retirement pension coupled with speaking fees that reach as high as one-million dollars per speech hardly put her on food stamps or in the bread line.
Then there is her job as Secretary of State. Even without the travesty of Benghazi, Hillary Clinton was an ineffective Secretary of State. She served during a critical time in our nation’s history and did nothing to leave our country safer or better off than when she took office. Further, she did not show herself to be a person who can withstand the manifest pressures of high office. Rather, the longer she served as Secretary of State, the more harried and haggard she looked. When Hillary Clinton stepped down from as America’s top foreign policy officer, she looked and sounded like a candidate for rehab rather than for president. This and her obvious need to cover-up the truth probably explain her woeful performance before the Congressional Committee investigating Benghazi. Frankly, if she could not handle the pressures of being Secretary of State, how will she hold up as president? Not to put too fine a point on it, but President Putin would eat her for lunch, just as he has Barack Obama.
Another liability is that Hillary Clinton is not a good campaigner. She comes across as harsh, whiny, and nagging; an image that reminds too many voters of a snooty old pedantic teacher whose class they dreaded. Add to this that she can be prodded into losing her cool. Who can forget her at-this-point-what-does-it-matter comment when testifying before Congress on the Benghazi tragedy. In point of fact, what she thought did not matter mattered a great deal to the families of the men who were killed defending our embassy, including the ambassador. It also mattered—and still does—to an American public convinced she and the president are lying to them.
Finally, Democrats do not want to see the presidential campaign devolve into an endless daily recounting of Bill Clinton’s long list of “bimbo eruptions.” Hillary Clinton gained some sympathy with the American public in the aftermath of the Monica affair. Her Supporters in the left-leaning media painted a portrait of her as the wronged but faithful wife who showed strength by doing what was necessary to rescue her marriage and rehabilitate her husband. But with time and perspective that image has faded somewhat. She now appears to be a political opportunist who turned the other cheek for the purpose of expedience. Leaving Bill Clinton probably would have undermined her political ambitions. Better to steal a line from the country singer she had once belittled and just stand by her man, at least publically. The voting public now understands that the Clinton’s have more of a political partnership than a marriage, a level of pragmatism hard to accept for many Americans.
With Bill Clinton pushing her to run for reasons of his own, Hillary Clinton might just buy into the comeback kid persona of her husband. But Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton. Adaptability and political resilience are his forte, not hers. Consequently, 2016 may turn out to be Hillary Clinton’s political Waterloo instead of her crowning moment. Perhaps I am being overly optimistic, but hope springs eternal.