Hillary bets short on Obama?

Marc Ambinder reported last night that a firm close to Hillary Clinton has purchased a new domain name: hrc2012.com.  The Markham Group participated in high-level planning for Hillary in 2008, especially her “visual messaging”.  Its partners actively worked on the campaign:

Greg Hale of the Markham Group served as a key advance aide to Sen. Clinton, organizing political events for the campaign. The Markham website calls him the “lead consultant for advance and visual messaging.” Partners Paul Neaville and Robert McClarty (the son of former White House chief of staff Thomas “Mack” McClarty) also worked on Clinton’s advance team. According to whois.com, the site was registered by Todd Wilder, a longtime Democratic operative from Florida.

Markham purchased the domain on June 8, which Andrew Malcom sees as an indicator of Hillary’s future plans:

June 8th? Why does that ring a bell? Why, that’s the very next day after her “I-give-up-and-heartily-support Obama” speech where her family was dressed for a funeral.

Maybe she’s planning another political funeral for Barack Obama.  After all, as Malcom and Ambinder point out, Hillary already owns domains for her political efforts, hillaryclinton.com and hillpac.com.  (She also has one for her 2008 debt relief efforts.) Hillary’s Senate term runs out in 2012, but she hardly needs this new domain for a run at re-election.

So is Hillary preparing a 2012 presidential run?  If she is, she would almost certainly need Barack Obama to lose in 2008.  Once elected, he will be the party’s nominee for a second term unless he so utterly failed as to get the heave-ho — and even Jimmy Carter managed to avoid that despite the disaster of his presidency.  Neither Hillary nor Bill have enthusiastically campaigned for Obama yet, either, although right now they’re understandably more concerned with retiring her debt.

On the other hand, a few caveats should be considered.  First, Markham bought the domain, and she may not have requested or authorized the purchase; it sounds like a task that someone may not have bothered to mention to the Clintons. Second, Markham may have bought the domain to keep others from poaching it — like, say, a Republican challenger for her Senate seat (maybe Rudy Giuliani, if he doesn’t run for governor?).  Both are plausible explanations.

If Hillary plans to send this big signal — wait for 2012! — it will kill any hope of party unity in the fall.  Hillary’s supporters will either sit on their hands or vote for McCain in an effort to get Obama out of the way for a run in the next election.  And if that happens, expect the Democrats to fracture on gender and ethnic lines like never before as Obama’s supporters might return the favor in 2012.

Update: Jazz Shaw, being the reasonable man that he is, asks why Hillary wouldn’t need hrc2012.com for a re-election bid to the Senate, since he believes that HillaryClinton.com was primarily a presidential campaign website. It’s a good question — but a look at the Whois record for her current domain shows that Hillary used it for her Senate campaign as well.  The domain was first registered in October 2001 — too late for her initial Senate bid — and is paid through October 2016.  The eponymous domain name gives it the most obvious link for first-time visitors, and since she used it for her 2006 Senate re-election campaigm, it would make more sense to stick with the familiar branding among New Yorkers.

And, by the way, she didn’t buy hrc2006.com for her re-election bid.  It’s still available, if anyone wants it.