The Clintons are trying to create the impression that Hillary has the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination—if not the presidential election—sewn up. Contenders need not apply.
Hillary already has the media eating out of her hand. Barbara Walters provided her an in-kind donation by naming Hillary her most fascinating person for 2013.
And CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser recently wrote, “If she decides to run, Clinton would instantly become the overwhelming frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.”
Of course, the media were saying the same thing back in 2007. But a relative Senate newcomer named Barack Obama didn’t know she couldn’t be—or wasn’t supposed to be—beaten, and so he jumped into the presidential race — and beat her.
A more realistic analysis would recognize that she has a lot of baggage, especially in a general election that will stress image, competency and, in the post-Obama world, honesty. Hillary is, shall we say, challenged on all three.
Further, given the nationwide angst over Obamacare, let’s not forget that she was a key figure in pushing health care reform that would have rivaled Obamacare’s failures.
Image — During Obama’s first presidential bid, several young people told me that Republicans needed to find someone who was cool and hip (e.g., like Obama).
Fair enough, but is that a description of Hillary, who will be 69 years old in 2016? That’s the same age Ronald Reagan was when he won the presidency, and the media prattled on endlessly about whether he was too old.
While she is looking better in her most recent media appearances, pictures in her last year or so as Secretary of State were unflattering. She was doing funky things with her hair and often wearing some very unbecoming pantsuits.
I would be the first to say that the battle for the presidency should be about vision and policies; but we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t recognize that much of the country—those “low-information voters” who are most likely to vote Democratic—choose form over substance. How else to explain the current White House occupant?
Competency — Name one major State Department achievement while Hillary ran the place. For that matter, name one major achievement while she was a New York senator. Having never lived in New York, the former first lady bought a house there so she could run for the Senate in a blue state that would elect anyone who got the Democratic nomination. She was the quintessential carpetbagger.
Since she has no successes, there will be a lot of focus on her abject failures, like Benghazi, the imploding of Libya, Syria, and Egypt along with the growing crises in Iraq and Afghanistan – all of which happened on Hillary’s watch.
Honesty — With the departure of the most dishonest administration in recent history, the political pendulum will likely swing the other way. The public will demand the future president tell the truth, and candidates—especially Republicans—will hammer that theme endlessly. Truth is not one of the Clinton family’s strong suits.
Like the time during her last presidential campaign where she claimed, “I remember landing [in Bosnia] under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” Then the video emerged of her strolling off the plane and chatting with people. The campaign later released a statement saying she “misspoke.”
And then there’s the ghosts of scandals past. Younger voters may not remember much about “Whitewater” or Hillary’s phenomenal ability to invest a little money and make huge gains. For that matter, they may not remember much about her husband’s dalliances, which Bill continually denied until the DNA would let him lie no more.
In their book about the 2008 presidential election, Game Change, authors John Heilemann and Mark Halperin claim that the senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, was worried when Hillary was considering a 2004 presidential run because of the various stories he was hearing about Bill’s escapades.
Hillarycare — Before there was Obamacare, there was Hillarycare. There are a few structural differences between the Clintons’ plan and Obama’s, but the Clintons’ effort to take over the U.S. health care system was no less ambitious, with the then-first lady playing an integral role in drafting and trying to pass it.
The 1994 Republican takeover of the House and Senate, for the first time in 40 years, was in part a response to the Clintons’ health care reform efforts—just as the 2010 voter backlash was a response to Obamacare.
Republicans will want to make sure that a public upset over Obamacare could have been forced into a similar boondoggle 20 years ago, thanks the Hillary Clinton.