Are Democratic insiders starting to panic about Hillary?

“How can she possibly distance herself from the Obama administration she served for four years, but whose policies increasingly alienate independent voters she needs?”

That last comment goes to the heart of her problem with Democratic insiders. Publicly, they praise Hillary as a candidate of exceptional experience in government and one who is likely to harvest bushels of votes from people eager to elect the first female president. Privately, they fret about a recent Quinnipiac poll in which 54 percent of Americans say Clinton is not honest or trustworthy. Among independents, that number hits 61 percent. “Candidates distrusted by that many people can win the White House, but it leaves no margin for error or another big scandal,” one Democratic former officeholder admitted to me…

That’s why so many Democrats hope Hillary Clinton will be challenged by a more formidable rival than the former governors or senators who are currently lining up to oppose her: Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb. Senator Elizabeth Warren, an economic populist to the left of Hillary, has steadfastly declined to run for president. But each new scandal or Hillary campaign stumble could fuel the pressure for her to enter the race. Most Democratic strategists believe that only a woman could seize the nomination from Mrs. Clinton, given Hillary’s name ID and campaign war chest. In 2008, Barack Obama would have had no hope against Hillary, despite his formidable campaign skills, if he hadn’t also had a history-making card to play as the first African-American man with a realistic chance of becoming president.