Let’s try a thought experiment. If Hillary Clinton had not written her second memoir Hard Choices and never had to go on a book tour to promote it, where would she stand now in the political realm? As Mark Halperin notes with a grin on Morning Joe today, “she’d have a lot less money,” but she would also have avoided the public beating over the thin gruel offered in her memoir and the ridiculous attempt to paint herself as a member of the “struggling” class for the past thirteen years. Would people be talking about Elizabeth Warren with any degree of seriousness now?

Well, maybe not now, but ….

The panel discussion kicks off with yesterday’s Politico poll that shows that the electorate has a better memory of Hillary’s tenure at State than most political media do.  Until her book tour, Hillary’s public image was generally positive, but irrelevant. As Halperin states, she had the opportunity to make herself relevant while still keeping electoral politics at arm’s length, or at least at wrist length, as everyone understood the “memoir” to be a thinly-disguised campaign platform. Instead of transforming the softball environment into political gold, complete with handpicked media appearances designed to give her the softest focus, Hillary “lost control of her image” in a series of gaffes and retreats that seem almost unreal in retrospect. How could anyone with that much preparation have blown it so badly?

Well, that’s actually a rather easy question to answer. Hillary Clinton is a lousy candidate, that’s why. She has little charm, a tin political ear, and no real agenda other than her own ambition, as Byron York points out when comparing her to Warren. She won her Senate seat in the safest environment the Clintons could find in 2000, and then proceeded to blow what was supposed to be a coronation in 2o08 to a first-term Senate backbencher, who also had an agenda rather than a resumé. Everything that happened over the past month would have happened in 2015 as well, especially in the tougher scrutiny of a presidential primary fight. The reason Democrats are looking at Warren as a Plan B is because they are now remembering 2008, and are starting to panic.

Marco Rubio offers another perspective on Hillary Clinton that also comes through — she’s a nostalgia candidate at a time when most Americans want to look to the future:

In terms of his political opponents, Rubio said Hillary Clinton is “extremely vulnerable on her record.

“The truth of the matter is she was the secretary of state during an administration that has had virtually no successes on foreign policy,” he said.

Rubio, who is 43, said his continuing career in public service is motivated by the nation being at a “generational, transformational crossroads.” He dismissed Clinton as being on the wrong side of those particular tracks.

“I just think she’s a 20th century candidate,” he said. “I think she does not offer an agenda for moving America forward in the 21st century, at least not up till now.”

Was the book tour a big mistake? Not really. It put a lot of cash into her pockets, and that’s not a small consideration for someone who considers herself a member of the “struggling” class. The downside would have taken place anyway, and for Democrats, it’s better to get this reminder now rather than in December 2015 when they can’t do anything about it.