Monday, December 10, 2012

It's Hillary, stupid!

By Michael J.W. Stickings

James Carville may not always seem to have his political wits about him, but I suspect he's pretty much right about what he said about Hillary Clinton's 2016 prospects yesterday on This Week

I don't know what she's going to do, but I do know this: The Democrats want her to run. And I don't just mean a lot of Democrats. I mean a whole lot of Democrats, like 90 percent across the country. We just want to win. We think she's the best person and shut it down. And that's across the board.

Which reminds me of something Richard and I were talking about recently, as he recounted in a "Hillary Watch" post last week:

Michael and I were... speculating about what will become of the Obama campaign machine, including personnel, in 2016 and who else might run for the Democrats if Hillary does. Would anyone of significance bother, and would it be a bad thing if no one did? Parties sometime say that so-called "coronations" for presidential nominations are unhealthy, but given how badly the Republican contenders beat each other up, it may not be an awful idea for the Democrats to know who their candidate is early on. 

Normally I'm against such coronations. I'd much rather let the democratic process play itself out. But presidential primaries these days aren't so much democratic processes as exercises in self-immolation exposing various establishment and base fault lines.

Yes, Obama and Clinton waged a tough battle in '08 without damaging party unity, but the risk is that the contest turns into what we saw on the Republican side this year, an ugly, divisive free-for-all that didn't leave anyone looking good, including Mitt Romney.

So fine, let's see who else is out there. And should Hillary run, let's welcome at least some semblance of competition (from someone like, say, Mark Warner, but hopefully not Joe Biden, not because I don't like him but because the party doesn't need a divisive Clinton vs. Biden showdown), which would still be healthier for the party than a free pass for the frontrunner.

But let's also see how this goes. Hillary may be extraordinarily popular among Democrats, but it's way too early to say she should be the one. And there are any number of other strong candidates out there who could emerge as credible challengers in the event she does indeed run. (My two favorites among that group are probably Deval Patrick and Kirsten Gillibrand, and perhaps also Martin O'Malley.)

And isn't it possible that Hillary is peaking now, even before she commits?

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