Just being Hillary Clinton isn’t enough

Will she say she’s been to where no secretary of state had ever been before — the Cook Islands, for instance? Will she echo the constant refrain from her State Department tenure — that she traveled more than any secretary of state in history, an astounding 956,733 miles, which is 38.42 times around the world and which, you have to concede, is a lot? Iowans may be impressed, but being First Frequent Flier is not enough to get them out on the forbiddingly cold night when the caucuses will be held. Clinton, as my Post colleague Dan Balz points out, needs a message.

At the moment, her only one is that she is a woman. Becoming the first female president is a worthy goal, but it kind of falls into the category of miles traveled and countries visited. It is an achievement, even a stunning one, but it is not a stirring trumpet call. Even now, her statistics-laden tenure has been somewhat eclipsed by her successor at State. John F. Kerry has already managed to bring Israelis and Palestinians together to resume peace talks. If these talks produce an agreement (not likely, but still . . .), then all this talk about miles traveled is going to sound awfully silly.

Clinton is undoubtedly the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2016, but then she is always the front-runner until something trips her up. The last time out — 2008 — it was her own dismal campaign and, of course, the emergence of one Barack Hussein Obama, a junior senator promising “hope.” To counter that, Clinton had no real message of her own. Instead, there was a fustiness about her, a familiarity that was both good and bad. She was — remains — Bill Clinton’s wife, and that, as we all know, is both good and bad.