The Unlikelihood of President Hillary

The votes have been cast, the count has been completed, and we
all know the winner of the presidential election. So now it’s just
a matter of letting the Electoral College meet to make the outcome
official. Then we can get along with planning the inauguration of
Hillary Clinton.
True, it’s still four years away. But by now it’s clear that
Republicans needn’t bother putting up a nominee. They may as well
save their money and candidates for 2024, when Hillary will be
ready to leave Washington and become a judge on “The Voice.”
The secretary of state is currently more popular than ice cream
in August. Matched by Public Policy Polling against a field of
other possible contenders for the 2016 Democratic nomination, she
got 61 percent among primary voters—well ahead of second-place Joe
Biden, with 12 percent. ;
Polling analyst Harry Enten of the British newspaper The
Guardian says no previous non-incumbent in recent history has
reached that level. And each of the ones who came remotely close—Al
Gore, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush—got his party’s nomination.
In May, a Gallup survey found that 66 percent of those polled
had a favorable opinion of her. Only 29 percent didn’t like her.
Let’s face it, you could probably find that many people who don’t
like Kermit the Frog.
She has plenty of assets going for her if she decides to run.
There are the fond memories of the pacific, profitable 1990s. There
is her game willingness to go to work for the guy who beat her in
2008. There is the fact that voters may be ready to make history by
electing a woman. She’d also get some campaign assistance from a
famous native of Hope, Ark.
But she won’t have the smooth, flower-strewn path to the Oval
Office that all this suggests. During her husband’s presidency, she
was widely disliked for her hectoring manner, her
more-liberal-than-Bill views and her often chilly personality. Not
for nothing was she known in her college days as “Sister
Frigidaire.”
It’s easy to forget that she was the architect of a major health
insurance overhaul that ended in crashing failure. It’s easy to
forget that when the Monica Lewinsky affair broke, she dismissed
the allegations as slanders from a “vast right-wing conspiracy”
trying to “undo the results of two elections.” It’s easy to forget
that she was the most unpopular first lady on record.
If she enters the race, we would be reminded of the strife and
scandal of the Clinton presidency. We would also be reminded that
electing Hillary would mean bringing back Bill, with his notorious
appetites and unpredictable impulses.
One or two bimbo eruptions could be fatal—and did you see that
story the other day that Gennifer Flowers said he tried to renew
their trysts?
The public seems to like Hillary a lot better when she’s far
removed from the presidency. The closer she gets the more distrust
she evokes. When she ran in 2008, her popularity sagged. That’s how
she managed to lose a nomination that most people assumed was hers
for the taking.
She is easier for people to take in the role of diplomat than
politician. When she lectures dictators at the UN, voters tend to
approve. When she lectures audiences in Iowa, they tend to
bristle.
Being secretary of state lets her look serious and diligent,
which she is, while sparing her from close daily scrutiny. Running
for president would put her back under the microscope, where she
doesn’t look so appealing.
There are other things working against her. One is that it’s
very hard for a party to win three consecutive presidential
elections. Except for 1988, it hasn’t happened since Harry Truman’s
day. The Clinton good times, remember, were not enough to deliver
Gore to the White House.
Nor is it clear that Hillary is such a great candidate. Maybe
she learned invaluable lessons from the last try. But then, so did
Mitt Romney. Alas, the same shortcomings that kept him from getting
the nomination that time kept him from winning the election this
time.
We had a chance to elect Hillary president in 2008, in a year
made to order for her, and it didn’t come to pass. Don’t be
surprised if it never does.

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The Unlikelihood of President Hillary


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