Hillary: I'd like to be president and will think about 2020 after the midterms

Via the Free Beacon, it’s … not really happening. You need to watch the clip below (or read the transcript) for the full flavor of what she says but I *think* her reference to 2020 has to do with whom she might endorse, not her own plans. That’s how her own spokesman is interpreting it too. The clip even begins with her flatly saying “no” when asked if she’ll run again. Although…

CLINTON: Well, I’d like to be president. I think, hopefully, when we have a Democrat in the Oval Office in January of 2021, there’s going to be so much work to be done. I mean we have confused everybody in the world, including ourselves. We have confused our friends and our enemies. They have no idea what the United States stands for, what we’re likely to do, what we think is important. So the work would be work that I feel very well prepared for having been at the Senate for eight years, having been a diplomat in the State Department, and it’s just going to be a lot of heavy lifting.

SWISHER: So are you going to be doing any of that lifting? Do you feel like —

CLINTON: Oh I have no idea, Kara, but I’m going to — I’m not even going to even think about it til we get through this Nov. 6 election about what’s going to happen after that, but I’m going to everything in my power to make sure we have a Democrat in the White House come January of 2021.

The “heavy lifting” she describes isn’t just the presidency, I think, but the broader task of rebuilding America’s alliances after Trump, which will require many people. You could read this, then, as nothing more than Hillary making herself available to work for the next Democratic chief executive in whatever capacity he/she likes.

Yet no job requires more “heavy lifting” than the presidency itself. And as Hillary is quick to remind you, she’s “very well prepared” for it. Hmmmm!

Ed floats a possibility via email: Maybe she’s holding herself out to be drafted in 2020 in case the Democratic primaries end up in a 15-car pileup with no candidate able to secure a majority. She wants to be president, she’s equipped to the job, but to actually run again? “No, no,” she says. There are obvious problems with the “draft” scenario, though. With 15-20 candidates to choose from, why would a deadlocked Democratic Party opt for the one national figure whom we know for a fact that Trump can beat? It’s not like she’s worked hard since the election to shed the qualities that made her unpalatable to so many voters in 2016 either. If anything, she’s doubled down on them and metrics of her popularity reflect that.

And how would Hillary 2.0 bridge the ideological divide among Democrats? Clinton’s defeat is Exhibit A in the left’s argument that neoliberalism isn’t more “electable” than hardcore progressivism, contrary to popular belief. If there’s to be a compromise in 2020, they’ll want a Bernie-style candidate on the top of the ticket. Centrists, meanwhile, will insist that the failure of 2016 had nothing to do with centrism itself and everything to do with Hillary Clinton’s personal baggage. Neoliberalism is still the most electable option — so long as there are no Clintons attached. In which case, if there’s to be a compromise candidate in 2020, they’ll be receptive to pretty much any centrist who isn’t Hillary Clinton herself. Either way, Hillary’s out in the cold.

Her only argument to be nominated again is that she won the popular vote. But critics will remind her that Obama won it twice before that, each time with a clear majority and a comfortable cushion of electoral votes. Democrats are about to begin an 18-month-long debate about what the key differences were between Obama and Clinton that led one to easy victory and the other to a painful defeat. Was O just that much better a retail candidate than Clinton, with far less baggage? Was he able to better mobilize young and minority voters given his historic candidacy as the first black nominee? Was he perceived, rightly or wrongly, as more authentically populist-progressive than Clinton? Was it a matter of swing voters opting for an alpha male like Trump over a woman alternative, as Michael Avenatti might tell you?

However you answer those questions, they all point away from Hillary. Maybe the Dems need someone charismatic, like Beto! Maybe they need a black nominee, like Kamala Harris or Cory Booker (or Andrew Gillum?). Maybe they need a hard leftist who’ll appeal to the Rust Belt working class like Bernie. Maybe they need a man who can get down in the mud and exchange punches with Trump like Biden. If Hillary Clinton is the answer, what’s the question?

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