Attacking Hillary's character won't work

Up to now, Clinton’s potential rivals have been taking the traditional route of arguing that she does not truly reflect the Democratic base on issues like income inequality and corporate regulation. Now, they have been handed a much more potent argument: that the financial behavior of the Clintons demonstrates that they identify with the one per cent—or one-tenth of one per cent—and that their conduct will be as big a liability to Hillary Clinton as Mitt Romney’s business career and tax returns were to him in 2012.

But, as with nitroglycerin, a potent substance can also be highly dangerous. Bill Clinton is the most admired man in America; and among Democrats, his approval rating is stratospheric. Up to now, there has been no significant unhappiness within her party at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton nomination—not to mention the significant cohort of voters eager to see a woman elected President. (Indeed, a recent New York Times poll suggests that Clinton has retained, even increased, her popularity among Democrats) There’s also the pragmatic argument that a frontal assault on the likely democratic nominee will do neither the party nor the advocates of such an assault any good.

Moreover, nothing is more likely to rally Democrats around Clinton than the assaults from across the political divide. Throughout their public lives, Bill and Hillary Clinton have benefitted enormously from the fury of their ideological enemies. Making a case that will persuade Democrats to move away from Clinton on character grounds will be the political equivalent of defusing a ticking bomb.