Hillary Clinton isn’t a candidate for president, at least not yet. But this week felt like she was very much in the 2016 grind.

One day, she was weighing in on gun control, Obamacare and social inequality. The next she was taking heat over Benghazi and facing questions about whether as Secretary of State she went too easy on the group behind the kidnap of Nigerian girls.

Then there was Monica Lewinsky, reviving the scandals of 1998.

It was arguably the roughest week Clinton has had since she left the State Department early last year, highlighting the tensions between the past and the future that will inevitably come to a head if she runs.

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Sneed hears rumbles former President Bill Clinton, who lied about his affair with White House intern Monica “That Woman” Lewinsky, may opt to publicly apologize for the abuse Lewinsky claims she’s endured since the sex scandal broke more than 15 years ago.

The rationale? To fend off critics of his wife Hillary who blame her for protecting a powerful husband who is a sexual predator. Hillary Clinton is eyeing a 2016 presidential bid.

The big question: Will Bill “I love an audience” Clinton choose to apologize to Lewinsky and his wife for the mess he placed in their lives — and appeal for forgiveness — in order to put the past behind him before his first grandchild is born . . . and reap a lotta love for being a penitent?

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Another Democrat in the room said the vice president “talked about how the system was rigged against the middle class. He said the economic realities of the middle class are diminishing, and that the average middle-class family is finding it hard to make it economically.”

Biden did not mention his own White House ambitions. But several Democrats at the event were struck by one remark he made about Bill Clinton’s presidency: Three sources there told CNN that Biden said the fraying of middle-class economic security did not begin during President George W. Bush’s terms, but earlier, in the “later years of the Clinton administration.” Biden, of course, could face off against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016 if they both decide to run.

Biden’s speech was described, to a person, as “populist.”

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Now the Boko Haram decision raises a whole new set of questions.

How could the Clinton State Department reject naming Boko Haram as a terrorist group?

Who was involved in blocking Boko Haram’s terrorist designation?

Are any of the so-called experts who were totally wrong still at the State Department?

Did Clinton have anything to do with refusing to designate Boko Haram?

If not, was she even aware of the controversy? Shouldn’t she certainly have been aware, considering the number of federal agencies and members of Congress that were asking her to designate the organization?

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A far more significant threat to her potential candidacy is Americans’ desire for new leadership after eight years of the Obama administration. A Pew Research Center/USA Today poll found this week that 65 percent of Americans would “like to see a president who offers different policies and programs.” Only 30 percent said they wanted ones “similar to those of the Obama administration.”…

As Abramowitz has shown, the incumbent party has typically fared worse in “time for change” elections like 2016 during the post-World War II era. When the incumbent party has held the White House for two or more terms, it has won only two of nine elections since 1948. When the incumbent party has held the presidency for only one term, it has won seven of eight.

Moreover, historical data suggests that the public’s attitude today is similar to the run-up to a previous “time for change” election that didn’t go well for the incumbent party. As the chart indicates, the percentage of Americans who currently favor “different policies and programs” is closer to levels from the 2005-2006 period under George W. Bush, another relatively unpopular second-term president presiding over a weak economic recovery, than from 1999-2000, when Bill Clinton was president and the economy was much stronger.

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Although Biden, like Clinton, supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, those calamitous wars have instilled in him a new devotion to the cautious realism that men like Scowcroft and Baker exemplify. In 2009, according to Bob Woodward, the then-secretary of state argued passionately for sending 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, at one point pounding her fist on the table and declaring, “We must act like we’re going to win.” Biden, by contrast, didn’t think defeating the Taliban was either possible nor necessary, and argued for a narrower mission focused on al-Qaeda alone. What she feared most in Afghanistan was chaos and barbarism. What he feared most was quagmire.

Biden, according to Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’s book, HRC, was also skeptical of a Western air campaign in Libya. Clinton supported it. Biden considered the raid on Osama bin Laden too risky. Clinton pushed Obama to go for it. Clinton, perhaps remembering the way her husband’s decision to arm Croat forces helped enable a peace deal in the former Yugoslavia, urged Obama to arm Syria’s rebels. Biden expressed caution once again. “Over the last few years, and especially amid the Arab Spring, events have forced the Obama White House to choose between its prudential instincts and its great ambitions,” Traub writes. “In almost every case Biden has sided with the skeptics.”

It would be a good thing for Democrats, and the country, if the private debate between Biden and Clinton went public. Otherwise, it’s likely that during the campaign Clinton will take stances more hawkish than Obama’s—partly because Ukraine has made hawkishness fashionable again and partly because that’s where her own instincts lie—but barely anyone will notice.

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It is not a tone that works well on the stump, and, as she demonstrated when flying off the handle during earlier Benghazi hearings, and in her nasty primary fight with Mr Obama in 2008, Mrs Clinton’s record in televised debates is shaky…

If Republicans can find a fresh, plausible candidate ruthlessly focused on improving middle class lives rather than the Culture Wars, then Mrs Clinton will have to struggle to explain to voters why they should embrace what Republicans will tout as “four more years” (of failure).

Perhaps the twin novelties of being a “first woman president” and a “first First Lady to be president” will be sufficient to get her over the line, but she shouldn’t bet on that…

The smart money says Mrs Clinton will run but, for all her current pre-eminence, she should prepare for a dogfight, not a coronation tour.

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It’s not just that her position is now so formidable; the prospect or call for an ideologically pure challenger is based on a flawed premise. Hillary won’t be a purist, but she will run as a progressive.

First, she actually is—with her politics sensibly tempered by pragmatism—but so were FDR and JFK’s. Second, she’s smart—and she knows that it would be a mistake to create an opening for a potential primary opponent. She did that in 2008 by campaigning initially as a candidate of restoration, not change—and by neglecting to organize in caucus states. She won’t misread the Democratic landscape again…

Biden would be the clear favorite if Hillary didn’t run. But Barack Obama is just recognizing the realities. This Clinton won’t be denied by her own party on the basis of a purist, parsed out, and phony test of her progressive credentials. Hillary won’t walk away from history; she will run to make history. She’s not retiring to be an ersatz ex-president before she becomes the next president of the United States.

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Via the Daily Caller.