Captured over at The Corner, George Will was on Fox this morning and asked (for, I assume, the 3 millionth time) about a possible Hillary Clinton run and her inevitable victory. As you’ll see in this video, Will was not impressed.
“It’s reminiscent of when Roger Mudd of CBS asked Ted Kennedy a not unexpected questionin 1980: ‘Why are you running for president?’” Will said. “By the time Ted Kennedy quit stammering he was handicapped.”
I just finished a radio interview this afternoon where the same subject came up. For my part, I think George is being a bit optimistic. As far as the Democratic nomination goes – which wasn’t what Will was talking about, I know – the only person who can stop Hillary is Hillary, and that’s if she decides not to run or some aspect of her personal life makes her think better of it. Yes, I realize that she was “inevitable” in 2008 also, but I don’t see a parallel between the two. In that campaign, Hillary was inevitable until the Democrats found somebody more inevitable and with an equally, if not more compelling narrative. The First Woman President storyline was able to be trumped by the First Black President storyline. There is nobody waiting in the wings right now who can deliver that kind of bang for the buck as far as the Democrats are concerned. And if she decides to bail out, they’ll manufacture another one to match, likely in the form of Elizabeth Warren. (Or so I hope. She’s completely beatable.)
In the general election, it’s another story, but that inevitability narrative is still probably stronger than Will is giving credit. Her numbers have sunk a bit since her time at State, but she can still muster favorability near or above 50 and that’s a fairly golden ticket. She’s also got more experience in running under her belt and a fully formed team waiting to leap into action. (Not to mention a mountain of funding ready to shower down on her from numerous PACs and other resources.)
Perhaps Will – given his Kennedy comparison – means she won’t be formidable on the stump and in debates. That’s possible, I suppose. Even she was unable to name a significant achievement of her own as Secretary of State and neither can her supporters. But will that matter to the voters? A lack of accomplishments didn’t stop them from voting for Barack Obama in droves. (Twice!) We might be expecting a lot out of the national electorate to be that discerning. Still, at least Will isn’t throwing in the towel, which would be a pretty bad omen at this early stage.