David Axelrod to Hillary: You’re not inevitable

No less a Democratic figure than long-time Obama advisor and campaign guru David Axelrod is warning Hillary Clinton that he is starting to see dark shades of the 2008 race casting a pall over the purportedly inevitable 2016 presidential nominee.

Speaking at a Wall Street Journal breakfast, Axelrod warned Clinton that she needs to stop playing it safe and emerge from her “cocoon of inevitability.”

“I think the danger for Secretary Clinton is that, as was the case in 2007, her candidacy is out in front of the rationale for it,” he warned. “She should not rely too much on that we do have an electoral vote advantage and demographic advantages.”

Politico noted that Axelrod is not alone in questioning precisely why Clinton is running for president, beyond the fact that she apparently believes the office is her due.

The concern about a lack of a clear rationale for a candidacy beyond the historic nature of being the first woman president has been expressed privately by some Democrats for months.

Others have worried since the midterms about whether the coalition that brought Obama national victories twice will have the same enthusiasm for another candidate

In a related dispatch from the Virginia-based political publication, it seems Clinton’s left flank is in full revolt in the wake of her party’s historic midterm drubbing. From Harpers, to The Nation, to The New Republic, progressive media outlets are mounting a full-court press to draft a credible candidate that could mount a challenge to Clinton from her left.

Politico noted, however, that the impulse among partisan Democrats to find a candidate worthy of challenging Clinton is not isolated to the progressive left.

The questioning of assumptions about Clinton’s march to the White House — and not just on the left — is partly a story of journalists looking for sharp angles on a Democratic primary race that threatens to be deadly dull. The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, for instance, recently took a sober, straightforward look at the “trap” Clinton could fall into assuming inevitability, writing that the midterm election results could lead to “a Republican Party that overinterprets its mandate in Congress and pushes its presidential candidates far to the right, freeing Democrats to gamble on someone younger or more progressive than Clinton.”

But the doubt among progressives is real, even though Clinton may be better positioned with the base of the Democratic Party now than in 2008. Back then, her media critics had more alternatives to work with — a slew of sitting senators were openly running for the Democratic nomination, including Barack Obama and John Edwards, a progressive favorite until his marital troubles came to light.

If the Democratic primaries began tomorrow, they would not be particularly competitive. There is, however, a lot of time between today and the start of the 2015 campaign season in the summer.