Hillary's question: Not if, but how

Wall Street is so desperate for a champion in power right now that the executives who support her would probably stand by and applaud while Clinton burned them in effigy, just so long as it got her to the White House. No Democrat in Washington is going to mind terribly if Clinton puts on a John Edwards mask and starts railing against the rich, if that’s what she thinks she needs to do.

Except that isn’t necessarily what she needs to do. For one thing, Democrats have a different set of complaints about Washington than they had six years ago, and it isn’t only about populism. Back then, they hoped that a younger, less embattled voice, emanating from a charismatic new protagonist, could shake the system free from paralyzing partisanship. Increasingly, though, they seem to have concluded that while Obama has their best interests at heart, he simply doesn’t know how to leverage power and has never really mastered Washington. (As I wrote last week, Obama’s aides did little to change that perception when they basically admitted, in the run up to his State of the Union address, that he had mostly given up on legislating altogether.)

In other words, the party (and, to a large extent, the country) may now be coming back around to Clinton’s rationale in 2008, which sounded pretty tinny at the time – that only a seasoned veteran of Washington’s dysfunction could hope reform it.

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