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October 24, 2013

Why Hillary Clinton Isn't The Inevitable 2016 Democratic Nominee, Let Alone Winner Of The General Election

There lots of talk out there about how Hillary Clinton is going to walk away with the Democrat nomination for President in 2016 and then sweep into over the charred remains of whatever sacrificial lamb the GOP offers up.

My response to that idea: Nuts. In fact, I don't think she'll run, and if she does she won't be the nominee, and if she is, she'll lose the general.

But assuming she does run for the nomination let’s remember a few things about Hillary:

For starters, she’s not a very good candidate. After spending much of the 2008 cycle as the “inevitable” nominee it turned out she was quite evitable (fun fact, that’s actually a word).

A disorganized and bloated campaign team, her accent of the week depending on the crowd she was talking to and her earthy every woman drinking habits, Hillary annoyed a lot of people. She may have been “likable enough” as Barack Obama famously put it but not enough to win over Democrats. Remember her big breakthrough in terms of connecting with voters was when she cried on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. Had she not done that, the nomination race between her and Obama might not have lasted as long as it did.

Democrats in general don’t like re-run candidates. The GOP is the party of “next in line” while the Democrats are the party “Ohhhhh….Shiny!”. Maybe the chance to elect the first woman President will be enough to overcome the Democrats historic resistance to giving losers a second look. Since the birth of the modern primary contest in 1968, the Democrats have only nominated someone for President who ran for the nomination before once…Al Gore ran in 1988 and won the nomination in 2000. Of course he was the siting Vice President at the time so it was a unique situation (Walter Mondale was the nominee in 84, having lost with Jimmy Carter in 80 but he never ran on his own prior to 84).

History isn’t destiny but odds are the Democrats will stay true to form and fall for someone new and exciting. This doesn’t bode well for Joe Biden either (though he might get the sitting VP exemption).

But the Democrats will want to make history and nominate a woman more than find someone shiny and new to get behind you say. Well, it might not be an either/or situation. Luckily for Democrats they may get to do that AND have the chance to make history if Elizabeth Warren runs.

And let’s not forget that Hillary’s record of accomplishment is still pretty spotty. Yes, she was able to squirm out too much blame for Benghazi the first time around but you can bet Biden isn’t going to lay down quietly while Hillary runs around taking credit for Obama’s “gutsy calls” and saying Biden was frady scared. Biden is a whacky guy but he’s been around the block a lot more times than Hillary. He’s got a network of his own and he knows where plenty of bodies are buried. No one doubts there’s plenty of dirt out there on Hillary and not only will Biden know about it, he’ll know how to get it out into the public. A primary battle between two top veterans of the Obama administration will simply lay the ground work GOP attacks to come later.

And about being a veteran of the Obama administration…that’s not looking so hot right about now is it? Sure it’s a long way to go and Hillary got out before the ACA mess hit the front pages but one year into Obama’s second term and I’m not getting the sense there’s going to be a lot of energy for what would amount to a 3rd Obama term.

Yes, Hillary was on the foreign policy side of the shop but from the failed stimulus plan, and “cash for clunkers” to record debt and the ACA, there’s a lot of wreckage to answer for. Hillary simply isn’t a good enough politician to avoid responsibility for 8 years of Democratic missteps as Obama was.

Speaking of 8 years of Democratic disasters….three straight presidential terms for a party is a pretty rare thing. Since the passage of the Twenty-Second Amendment (limiting a President to two terms), only once has a party held the White House in three consecutive elections (Reagan in 80 and 84 and George H.W. Bush in 88). Al Gore couldn’t parlay the seeming peace and the prosperity of the go-go economy of the 90s into a 3rd Democrat term (though he came close by winning the popular vote).

One other factor to consider is who the GOP nominates (assuming Hillary is the nominee). One can hope, though maybe expect is too strong, that next time around the Republicans will manage to nominate someone who isn’t as inept and out of step with the electorate as Mitt Romney was.

A last factor to consider is age. Hillary is going to be 66 in two days. That means when we get to the start of primary voting in a little over 2 years (January/February of 2016) she’s going to be 68 and will turn 69 just before election day of 2016. Some people will say it’s sexist to think about age and appearance but in a world of high-definition TV, these things matter. McCain and Romney were about the same age as Hillary will be and they didn’t fare so well against a younger, more energetic candidate (and for all his other faults, Romney is a freak of nature when it comes to appearance and energy for a guy his age). Don’t forget, Hillary had some health issues towards the end of her tenure as Secretary of State and people were talking about her being rundown after 4 years traveling the world.

Maybe the stunt casting of electing the first woman will be enough to overcome the economic ennui of the Obama years or the fiasco we are seeing unfolding that is the Affordable Care Act won’t look so bad by the time Hillary runs for the nomination or in the general but to say the combination of facts as we know them at this moments means Hillary Clinton is simply killing time until noon on January 20, 2017 is either wishcasting by Team Clinton or the residual disbelief among Republicans that Obama was able to win reelection given the status of the economy.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:00 PM

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