Mind-dulling coverage of Hillary Clinton is not meant to inform or clarify. It is meant to elevate Clinton, to confirm her power, to ensure a favorable relation between author and subject. James Carville’s suggestion that “90 percent” of Democrats want Clinton to run contributes to her image of invincibility. So does Newt Gingrich’s suggestion that Republicans are “incapable of competing” against a Clinton campaign. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made news this week simply by not endorsing Clinton outright. “She might even come close to clearing the Democratic field of serious opposition,” observed Nate Silver. That is exactly the purpose the endless talk is meant to serve.
But to what end? Clinton after all is in a position similar to where she stood in 2005: on the cusp of the Democratic nomination and then the presidency. Look what happened. Her ascension turned out to be less inevitable than everyone assumed. The Clinton machine turned out not to be as powerful as its reputation suggested. Clinton’s approval ratings may have improved since 2008, but has her actual political status really changed? If she ran in 2016 she would still be a white senior citizen running for the nomination of a party composed largely of the young and minorities. There would be ample room for a youthful minority challenger to her left just as there was in 2008.
There is also Jonathan Rauch’s “freshness test” to consider.