Can Democratic activists, for whom politics is catnip, cheerfully contemplate the uncontested nomination of someone who will be 69 on Election Day 2016, who will have been conspicuous in the nation’s life for a quarter of a century, and who cultivates nostalgia for the last decade of the previous century? Can forward-leaning, clench-fisted MSNBC viewers really work themselves into a lather of excitement about the supposed feminist triumph of smashing the ultimate “glass ceiling” for a woman whose marriage took her to the upper reaches of politics? Do Democrats, ankle-deep in the rubble of Obamacare’s paternalism, really want to nominate the author of Hillarycare? Before a Democratic-controlled Congress spurned it, she explained her health-care plan this way (a delicious quotation excavated by the Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins):
“We just think people will be too focused on saving money and they won’t get the care for their children and themselves that they need. . . . The money has to go to the federal government because the federal government will spend that money better.”
Come 2016, Clinton may be the one thing no successful candidate can be, and something Warren (or some other avatar of what Howard Dean in 2003 called “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party”) would not be: boring. The social scientist Robert Nisbet called boredom “one of the most insistent and universal” forces that has shaped human behavior. It still is. So, all those who today regard Clinton’s nomination as it was regarded in 2008 — as a foregone conclusion — should ask themselves: When was the last time presidential politics was as predictable as they think it has become?