It’s a juggernaut! An unstoppable force! It’s Hillary Clinton’s all but assured 2016 campaign, and every knee must bow and every tongue confess that she will be the 45th President of the United States. At least you might think that if you listen to many commentators and prognosticators as we head towards another race for the White House. From Hillary fanboys and fangirls on the left to Chicken Littles on the right, the word is going forth across the land that all should prepare for another President Clinton.
Granted, Hillary Clinton would be formidable in the general election should she ultimately run, as it is widely assumed she will. She is, after all, a former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State who is married to a former President who remains popular over a decade after leaving office.
However, that’s essentially all Mrs. Clinton is: a person who has had a lot of important-sounding titles with no accomplishments of any substance while holding those offices. Well, unless one counts HillaryCare, the Russia “Reset”, Benghazi, and the new revelations regarding her use of private email during her tenure as Secretary of State, and her subsequent struggle to address that problem, as “accomplishments.” Let’s not forget that as a Senator she voted in favor of invading Iraq, which some on the left still find objectionable, though some like Howard Dean seem to have conveniently forgotten about it.
You may be thinking, “But look at the lead she has against other Democrats and against Republicans in the polls.” Remember that time Clinton’s great poll numbers carried her to the White House in 2008 when it was her “turn”? Oh that’s right, the unstoppable Hillary train was derailed by some Junior Senator from Illinois who nobody expected to win any primary contests, let alone the Democratic nomination.
Of course, that’s not to say that there’s another challenger in the Democratic field who looks like they can pull off a Barack Obama type of upset this time around. The point is that impressive poll numbers don’t mean much right now. At this point almost to the day in 2007, Clinton led Obama 37% to 22%. Approaching 2016, she boasts an impressive lead over potential Democratic candidates for the simple reason that the Democrats really have no one other than Clinton. Indeed, possible candidates that have been in the rumor mill in addition to Clinton include retreads like Vice President Joe Biden (a two-time Presidential loser) and 2004 nominee, Secretary of State John Kerry. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is still floating around out there, but his heir apparent was defeated by about 5 points in a deep blue state by a Republican last November, so it’s difficult to see how he can run on his record if he couldn’t even leverage that in order to help keep the governorship of his left-leaning home state in Democratic hands. The only other Democrat who seems to have significant popularity among the left going into 2016 is Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has stated that she isn’t running.
Here’s another reason why Hillary Clinton is beatable: she is completely devoid of charisma and likability. Although she’s apparently “likable enough”, in Obama’s infamous words from 2008. It’s hard to imagine Clinton firing up and inspiring young people, college students, and first time voters in the same way that Barack Obama’s campaigns did in 2008 and 2012.
Let’s not forget that Hillary Clinton also cannot run as an outsider or as someone with new ideas. Sure, she can try to use nostalgia for the prosperous years of the 1990’s under her husband’s watch as a means to attract voters, but she is essentially like a car that can only run in reverse. After nearly a quarter of a century in the public eye and in Washington, she can’t credibly make the case that she brings anything new to the race aside from the possibility of becoming the first female president. Indeed, the question for Mrs. Clinton should be whether she plans to be her husband’s third term or Obama’s third term, and why should Americans want either one?
Hillary Clinton only has the advantage in 2016 insomuch as Republicans give her one. While she may very well coast to the Democratic nomination, the Republican primaries could be much more crowded and damaging to the eventual nominee, similar to how they were in 2012. The Republican field and electorate would do well to avoid the circular firing squad that has doomed their chances in previous elections, especially with the prospect of Hillary Clinton gliding into Philadelphia with the nomination next summer.