Liberal Democrats feel the wind is at their backs, making it all the more irksome for them that Hillary Clinton could be their presidential nominee in 2016.

For many on the left, Clinton is the woman who supported the Iraq War, ran to the right of President Obama and is associated with the Wall Street-friendly centrism espoused by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Progressives feel they are in a political golden age in which questions about income inequality are growing louder, anti-gay marriage laws are falling and the growing Hispanic electorate regards the GOP with skepticism. Given all that, they don’t want to be stuck with a standard-bearer they see as too centrist…

“Every candidate who thinks about running will be faced with a whole set of questions, on holding Wall Street accountable, on combatting student debt, on expanding social security,” said Ilya Sheyman, the executive director of MoveOn.Org Political Action. “Whether it’s Secretary Clinton or Sen. Warren or others, all of them are going to have to address the issues that progressives really care about.”


In recent weeks, Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun a calculated transition from respected diplomat to fierce advocate for the 99 percent, using a “haves versus have-nots” message to build support among progressives who are desperate for a strong voice to battle Wall Street, protect entitlement programs such as Social Security and promote income equality.

But for Mrs. Clinton, a rich, successful woman and part of one of America’s most powerful political families, there are questions about how effectively she can carry that banner if she runs for president in 2016…

“If Hillary Clinton campaigns on reforming Wall Street, jailing Wall Street bankers who broke the law, expanding Social Security benefits and investing in government jobs — and fights those fights in a way that shows her heart is in it — voters will reward her,” [Adam Green, co-founder of the increasingly powerful Progressive Change Campaign Committee] said. “If it sounds like lip service, a more genuine-sounding populist, Democrat or Republican, may capture the imagination of voters.”


Hillary Clinton is by her own admission months away from deciding on whether or not she will run for president. But even before any other would-be candidate can do so much as set up an exploratory committee or cook up an excuse to visit to Dubuque County Democrats Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, Democratic officials are stumbling over themselves to announce that they support Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.

And it just so happens that many of those Democrats were the very same ones who in 2007 were among the first to breach conventional wisdom and line up behind up the little-known Illinois senator…

Political observers have various theories about what is at play here. Although no one contacted for this article would admit to being pressured to get on board early after last cycle’s betrayal, in HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, the authors, Washington-based correspondents Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, revealed that the Clintons kept an “enemies list” of who had not been loyal during the campaign. Clinton loyalists downplayed the significance of the document, but it has been hard to not notice that over the last six years Bill Clinton especially has vigorously campaigned on behalf of those who supported Hillary.

“They certainly know that the Clintons take note and keep score,” said Larry Sabato, a political historian at the University of Virginia. “This is not a couple that easily forgives and forgets. So this is kiss-and-make-up time for most of these people.”


Everyone knows about the “Ready for Hillary” Democrats — the rapidly proliferating parade of elected officials and activists getting behind Hillary Clinton’s increasingly likely 2016 presidential campaign.

But there’s also a smaller but increasingly vocal group making its presence felt lately — call it the “Wary of Hillary” Democrats. They’re not outwardly opposing a Clinton candidacy. But they are anxious about the spectacle of a Clinton juggernaut, after seeing what happened when she ran a campaign of inevitability last time…

“She is an enormously capable candidate and leader, but I do worry about the inevitability, because I think it’s off-putting to the average voter,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a longtime Obama ally, told CNN earlier this month. “And I think that was an element of her campaign the last time. As an enthusiastic Democrat, I just hope that the people around her pay attention to that this time around.”


Burned by disappointment, many liberals want to vote with their heads, not their hearts, this time around.

And the Hillary-Industrial Complex is ready to exploit that sentiment. The HIC is the vast network of loyalists, retreads, activists, pols, hacks, fans (in and out of the press), Friends of Bill, and, of course, Friends of Hillary who want to see a Clinton restoration. They are waiting for her to run like 19th-century land speculators anticipating news that the railroad will go past their lots…

In her first campaign-style speech on the economy last week at the New America Foundation, Clinton mentioned Obama exactly once. (He’s worked hard, she said.) She referenced her husband a half-dozen times and talked at great length about how we need to return to the policies of the 1990s. (The Clintons remain convinced that the 1990s boom was a function of Bill’s expert tweaking of the dials and knobs on the master control board of the economy.) It wasn’t even subtle. No mention of the stimulus, cash-for-clunkers, Obamacare, or Dodd-Frank. As economics writer James Pethokoukis noted, “It was like Hillary was placed in suspended animation in 2008 and just recently revived to give a stump speech about the evils of the Bush tax cuts.”

Not only was there precious little talk of Obama, there was precious little talk of her four years on Obama’s once-vaunted “team of rivals.” She listed none of her major accomplishments as secretary of state, probably because she had none. (She did open with a reference to some bureaucratic reshuffling on her watch.) No serious student of foreign policy thinks our strategic standing in the world improved on Clinton’s watch as America’s chief diplomat. That alone doesn’t mean she was a terrible secretary of state — lots of people in that job tread water. But it doesn’t inspire either. Meanwhile, the most famous thing she did in that job was nothing — on the night of the Benghazi attack. She also traveled a lot, which is nice.


A broad array of Democrats — including Hillary Clinton’s allies — are meeting this week to hammer out a united front on national security issues, including a clear response to Republicans over the Benghazi controversy.

They see an opportunity to wrest control of a narrative that some allies fear could be damaging to Clinton if she moves ahead with a 2016 presidential campaign…

Some of the expected attendees of the briefing have been communicating over the past few weeks in calls and through an email listserv, with the goal of keeping the broad-based group informed about the news accounts of the committee’s anticipated activities.

A wide range of people are on the listserv, including people who work for groups like Media Matters, former Hillary Clinton foreign policy adviser Andrew Shapiro, former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor and several current and former Hillary Clinton aides.


Republican praise of the Clinton era over the last several years could reverberate in the 2016 presidential race, giving the Democratic front-runner a core talking point…

On many occasions, Republicans have touted Bill Clinton’s administration as a way to bash Obama. They maintain the 42nd president negotiated in good faith, and Obama doesn’t…

“If Hillary Clinton does indeed run in 2016, one of the most powerful weapons she will have in her campaign arsenal is ‘Republicans, in their own words.’ It’s a treasure trove of sound-bites and footage that could leave Republicans kicking themselves when it is all said and done.”…

O’Connell said, “Need to distance yourself from the albatross known as Obama? Roll the tape. Want to tout your bipartisan credentials to woo independents? Roll the tape. Have to show that you’re a pragmatic problem solver? Roll the tape.”


Rove, however, was on to something. He exposed a Clinton weakness that has nothing to do with her brain and everything to do with her skin. It is too thin. She despises the media and trusts us not at all. This is a theme of the Auletta piece and a similar one by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman of Politico. One veteran of Clinton’s campaigns put it this way to them: “Look, she hates you. Period. That’s never going to change.”

I suppose she’s entitled. The press has investigated her, pummeled her, poked into her personal life, questioned her sexual orientation, accused her of adultery, said she had thrown a White House lamp at her husband (I wonder why?) and is responsible in some fuzzy way for the four deaths at Benghazi. Presumably, her link to the VA scandal has yet to be uncovered…

What gave Rove’s speculation legs was Clinton’s penchant to roll into a defensive ball and act as if she’s hiding something. Had she a reputation for openness and candor, no one could possibly think she has suffered a grievous head injury. It was this allergic reaction to the press that hurt her so much when she lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama. If she runs in 2016, it will hurt her if she does not get over it.


Put it all together, and you start to get a picture of what a Clinton challenger might look like: probably male, moderate and anti-establishment.

Who matches that profile?

Webb, for one. He has been both a Democrat and Republican. Maybe Brian Schweitzer, the former Montana governor who mixes liberal and conservative positions and is not a fan of the Washington, D.C., establishment. A candidate like Joe Biden, who has been in Washington for over 40 years – probably not…

What should be noted is that early major Clinton endorsements also seem to be coming from the left, according to University of Stanford professor Simon Jackman‘s ideal point estimates. Of the 21 senators who have endorsed Clinton, 13 are to the left of the median Democratic senator, and only eight are to the right. The book “The Party Decides” tells us that this group holds a large sway over who gets the nomination, because they tend to represent the various interest groups within the party. Therefore, this hints at a potential challenger having more room for support on the right than the left.


In the 2008 battle with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton won Latinos and the white working class overwhelmingly. She lost black voters overwhelmingly and liberal whites by a good margin. She split the unions and the Robert Rubin Democrats. Importantly, her coalition was probably large enough to win, had she run a better campaign. Obama’s victory among pledged delegates was a scant 127 out of a total of 3,424. His entire margin of victory rested upon his superior organization of low-turnout caucus states like Idaho and Maine, where Clinton’s potential coalition was probably stronger. So, assuming that Team Clinton learns the rules of its own party this time around, a would-be challenger will actually have to build a bigger coalition than Obama’s…

In the end, Clinton’s greatest advantage might be the continued political weakness of Obama. History is not on the side of the Democrats as they try to win the White House for a third consecutive term. A party has only done so once in the postwar era—in 1988, when Ronald Reagan’s job approval was in the mid-50s by Election Day. Currently, Obama’s is mired in the mid-40s. Yet Clinton has a personal reputation that might transcend Obama’s unpopularity, and she polls extremely well at the moment. So long as that continues, risk-averse Democrats of all demographic stripes might be inclined to put aside their internecine battle to prevent a Republican victory, something they all equally oppose.


There is tremendous momentum swirling around Mrs. Clinton that will begin to gather steam as soon as she announces her candidacy. A Hillary win would seem like a glorious victory for feminism, one of the 20th century’s greatest social movements. Remember how much difficulty 2008 GOP nominee John McCain had running against a freshman senator with a thin résumé who managed to position himself as the triumphant final act of the Civil Rights movement…

Furthermore, do not underestimate how many millions of Independent and even Republican baby-boomer women who helped sow the seeds of the feminist movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s will be cheering her on.

How does the male Republican presidential candidate maneuver around this movement? By persuading voters that an issue or personality flaw in the movement’s leader is more important than the triumph of the movement.

In the case of Hillary Clinton, that issue and personality flaw is “trust.”

This is where the gloves come off and all the past Clinton scandals of both Bill and Hillary come back to life. The campaign must come down to a simple question: “Can we trust the Clintons in the White House again?”