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WSJ op-ed: Why not Hillary in 2024?

AP Photo/Kevin Lamarque, Pool, File

I hope she runs, just because I think it’d be funny to watch her lose a second presidential primary to a member of the Obama family.

If she lives another 25 years, we might eventually see her lose one to Sasha or Malia too.

Others have pointed out on social media today that this op-ed is essentially trolling. One co-author, Andrew Stein, pointedly endorsed Trump over Clinton in 2016. The other, Doug Schoen, announced late in that campaign that he couldn’t support Hillary. Two years later, Stein co-wrote another column predicting that Clinton would jump into the 2020 race. In 2011, Schoen co-wrote a piece calling on the incumbent president, Barack Obama, to stand aside for Hillary in 2012.

When you want a half-assed hot take about a longshot Clinton candidacy, these are your go-to guys.

Either Stein and Schoen are just filling column space on a slow news day with some insincere Hillary speculation or they’re rooting for a second Trump term and doing what little they can to bring it about. Although, in fairness to them, re-nominating the one person on Earth whom we know for a fact is capable of losing to Donald Trump does sound like something Democrats would do.

If Democrats lose control of Congress in 2022, Mrs. Clinton can use the party’s loss as a basis to run for president again, enabling her to claim the title of “change candidate.”

In a recent MSNBC interview, Mrs. Clinton called on Democrats to engage in “careful thinking about what wins elections, and not just in deep-blue districts where a Democrat and a liberal Democrat, or so-called progressive Democrat, is going to win.” She also noted that party’s House majority “comes from people who win in much more difficult districts.”…

Given the likelihood that Democrats will lose control of Congress in 2022, we can anticipate that Mrs. Clinton will begin shortly after the midterms to position herself as an experienced candidate capable of leading Democrats on a new and more successful path.

Mrs. Clinton can spend the time between now and midterms doing what the Clinton administration did after the Democrats’ blowout defeat in the 1994 midterms: crafting a moderate agenda on both domestic and foreign policy. This agenda could show that Mrs. Clinton is the only credible alternative to Mr. Biden, Ms. Harris, and the entire Democratic Party establishment.

Biden’s old, Harris is a loser, the party has no bench. The time could be right for the Democrats’ answer to Richard Nixon to make her 1968-style comeback!

Just one question. Would Americans seeking “change” logically turn to the embodiment of the underwhelming neoliberal political establishment, a dynastic figure whom they’ve lived with for 30 years who couldn’t beat a game-show host even after she’d been gifted the “Access Hollywood” scandal a month before Election Day?

It seems to me that if Democrats are up against Trump a third time in 2024, they’d want to leverage his unpopularity by running the most generic, unobjectionable candidate possible. A smart party would nominate someone like Jon Tester and let swing voters’ and centrist Republicans’ natural contempt for Trump steer them into the Democratic column. Running someone like Hillary Clinton about whom the other party has very strong feelings is a recipe for disaster.

What would a more “moderate” Hillary candidacy look like, anyway? Mitt Romney turned more “moderate” in his second, more successful run for the GOP nomination in 2012, positioning himself as a business-savvy technocrat instead of a culture warrior. (We’d find out four years later how important the culture-war part of the Republican pitch would be.) If Hillary tacked to the center in 2024 — fund the police, open the schools, enforce the border, and so on — some lefty fire-breather would smell an opportunity and jump in to try to take her out. After being thwarted in 2016 and 2020, this would finally be a real opportunity for a progressive to be nominated. The left has no use for Clinton and hasn’t forgotten how weak she was against Bernie Sanders in the midwest, just as I’m sure Clinton hasn’t forgotten either.

So how confident are we that Hillary wins a primary between her and Stacey Abrams, a candidate who might be able to consolidate progressive and African-American support?

For that matter, how do Clintonistas plan to elbow aside the sitting vice president, who’ll likely want to run herself? I can imagine Hillary beating Kamala Harris but I can’t imagine her doing so without experiencing some meaningful political pain, bigfooting the first black woman VP to claim her second presidential nomination when Harris is supposed to be the next in line. How will black Democrats react to that spectacle?

The Nixon ’68 analogy doesn’t hold up either. Nixon’s election was a law-and-order reaction to the tumult of the 60s. Hillary’s election would be a reaction to … what, exactly? She had no real message in 2016 besides “it’s her turn.” Her message in 2024 would be “it’s still her turn,” fundamentally. Let’s move on.