In certain Democratic hearts, there lives a dream barely spoken aloud, a dream of a champion who will run against Barack Obama in the 2012 primaries and vanquish him to outer electoral darkness where there is only weeping, the lecture circuit, and maybe the Secretary General’s seat at the U.N. In that dream, the name of the champion — Hillary Clinton — is enough to thrill the heart of even the most jaded Democrat.
Well, kiss that dream goodbye because, according to her, she’s done with electoral politics forever. At least that’s what she told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.
WALLACE: Secretary, one final question. You made some news recently in Australia when you ruled out running again for office in 2012 and 2016. Why?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, I love what I’m doing. I can’t tell you what it’s like, Chris, to every day get to represent the United States, and it’s why I feel so strongly about every issue from, you know, START to Afghanistan.
WALLACE: But are you — are you categorically saying that you are done with political office…
CLINTON: I — I have said…
WALLACE: … elected office?
CLINTON: I have said it over and over again, and I’m happy to say it on your show as well. I am committed to doing what I can to advance the security, the interests and the values of the United States of America.
I believe that what I’m doing right now is in furtherance of that, and I’m very proud and grateful to be doing it.
WALLACE: So you’re done with elective office?
CLINTON: I am. I am very happy doing what I’m doing, and I am not in any way interested in or pursuing anything in elective office.
So that’s that. When President Obama’s time in Washington is done, she’ll leave, never to return…or will she?
The “I swear I’m not running” gambit is as old as politics itself and has all the career-stopping power of wet tissue. It does, however, give her the chance to sit above the fray next year for a while then jump in after the other candidates (and I do believe there will be a few) have bloodied each other considerably. At that point, she can claim that she really didn’t want to run but that the people need her leadership and experience. Democratic voters will cheer, donors’ wallets will open wide, and the nomination will practically fall into her hands.
On the other hand, maybe we should take her at her word. Maybe she really has lost the taste for political power she’s had since at least her college days. Maybe she’s ready to lay it all aside just as she’s reached arguably the second most powerful position in the world, with that final step as reachable as it’s ever been in her life. Maybe she’ll simply retire when her time in Foggy Bottom is done and enter the quiet, contemplative life of book-writing and the occasional speech.
Maybe, but I don’t think I’d want to put money on it. Do you?