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Thursday, June 11, 2015
Politics ...

Regarding the upcoming 2016 Presidential election, the situation of the Democrats is unique and paradoxical, a real head-scratcher. The Democratic Party presently holds the White House (and little else across the country), but President Obama’s second term is coming to an end. In previous situations like this, the Vice President usually became the next candidate — recall Hubert Humphrey and Al Gore, and perhaps we can also count Walter Mondale (Jimmy Carter’s VP), who ran against Reagan in 1984 after Reagan beat Carter four years earlier. The only modern exception to this rule was in 1952, when the Dems picked Senator Adali Stevenson in lieu of Harry Truman’s VP, Alban Barkley, who supposedly was too old to run at age 75. (By comparison, Obama VP Joe Biden will be 73 next year, and Hillary Clinton will be 68; Ronald Reagan was 69 when he was elected).

It looks like this rule will also be broken in 2016, as Hillary Clinton is the Democratic heir apparent. Joe Biden has been disqualified more because of his political clumsiness than because of his age. But more importantly, he’s just not Hillary. Hillary seems like destiny … the first female Presidential candidate, a successful US Senator and Secretary of State, and yes, also a former First Lady herself. And yet, I wonder if Hillary’s moment has already passed. Sure, despite all the “baggage” that she has, Mrs. Clinton still seems like a shoe-in for the nomination. There’s no Barack Obama rising on the horizon, as in 2007 (when Hillary also seemed like a shoe-in). But as to winning the general election . . . and even if that were to happen, would she make a good president . . . I’m starting to have my doubts.

In 2007 and 2008, I didn’t have such doubts. I was convinced that Hillary was exactly what the country needed at that point, and to be honest, I still think that’s true. Had Hillary’s 2008 primary campaign been managed a bit more skillfully, and had Obama and his managers been just a tad less masterful and a bit more focused on the long-term, Hillary would now be in the White House instead of Barack Obama; and I think that the country would also be in a better place. Right now we’d be talking about an older and more seasoned Barack Obama as the heir apparent for the 2016 nomination (I believe that Hillary would have selected a “toothless” VP like Biden, perhaps Biden himself, so as to make way for an Obama 16 run; by now, Obama would have been a key player in the Senate, on some powerful committees).

But no, things happened as they did; and amidst the chaos, we got an 8 year term with a Barack Obama, who used up most of his ammo on taking one hill (i.e., healthcare reform and expansion). After that battle was over, he could not show a lot of strength or inspiration (or accomplishment) in most other areas, especially foreign policy and national economics. Obama talked a good line up front in terms of seeking cross-party compromise, and he appeared to receive a mandate from the public to “make it so”. But he was not able to effectuate that mandate (and admittedly, he was not offered much cooperation from the GOP, which seemed hostile to him right from the start — but then again, the tactics he used to get the Obamacare bill passed in 2009 were NOT a paradigm of inter-party dialog, and the argument can be made that Obama land-mined his political waters with the GOP early on).

So now we have an older but not necessarily wiser Hillary Clinton in the wings. In 2008, Hillary seemed to have gotten clear of most of the Clinton family “baggage”, e.g. Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster, the Rose Law firm stuff. She had served well as a US Senator from New York state since 2001, and it was reasonably assumed at that point that she had learned her lessons about personal integrity and about going the extra mile to assure public trust. I certainly thought so. And yet, since then . . . the Clinton baggage keeps on coming down the ramp. Sure, thus far there is nothing regarding the Clinton Foundation, Sid Blumenthal or the personal e-mail server that is so egregious and scandalous as to disqualify Hillary.

And yet, to me, that fact is even more worrisome . . . it looks like Hillary never turned away from the Clinton family MO (“method of operation”), but instead has learned to do it even better. I.e., to engage in sleazy and self-aggrandizing things, taking them just to the edge of public deniability and political survivability; she knows just how far to push things without leaving an actual “smoking gun”. She has perfected the technique of blaming ruthless GOP partisanship for all her problems, casting herself as the true martyr. It’s not any one thing that Hillary has done that now bothers me; it’s the overall pattern that seems to have emerged. I must admit that for now, I’m an independent / undecided voter. I am not promising my vote to the Democrats in November, 2016. I’m going to give Hillary and whoever runs against her an open ear, all the way through. If the Republican nominee is other than Rubio or Bush, then a vote for Hillary would probably be the lesser evil. But if not, then I’m really going to need to listen very carefully to what both sides put on the table.

But just because I may not be such an enthusiastic Hillary supporter anymore doesn’t mean that the overall “woman of destiny” momentum can be stopped. Hillary most likely will be the 2016 Democratic candidate largely because there just aren’t any good choices amidst the Democrats. So, on to the next two questions: will Hillary be elected, and will she be a President that does the nation much more good than harm, an effective and inspiring leader? Stay tuned for my next exciting blog post about whether Hillary or any of the potential GOP candidates for 2016 can do the nation any good, given how dysfunctional our nation’s political situation is these days.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 5:02 pm      

  1. Jim, I absolutely think that it’s way too early to be talking about the 2016 elections; after all, there’s over a year and a half to go yet. As far as I’m concerned, about the time the “early voting” comes out might be the time to start talking about it all. By that time the nominees will definitely be decided, and all will no longer be pure speculation about who might or might not run for president when Obama’s term is up.

    It seems to me that women, when it comes to politics, seem to have only two functions; I say this because in the last copy of The Atlantic a couple of thing articles caught my eye: An article about “Playing the Granny Card” and an article about “The Mystery of Columba Bush”, Jeb Bush’s wife.

    First, I was struck that in the “Granny” article, all the women mentioned (Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde) are termed “older”. (I do not know the age of any of the women mentioned.) I’m not sure exactly what that means . . . over 40? (maybe too young yet); over 50? over 60? well, definitely *not* over 70; so somewhere, I guess, between 50 and 70, women seem to be considered suddenly capable of running a country and/or holding high(er) political positions.

    Do these women actually suddenly acquire the ability to hold high political office after 50? Or is it that they make people feel “comfortable and safe” and thus “worthy to hold a high(er) political office? Furthermore, not only are these women consistently called “older” in this article, they are called “Granny” so as to give people the nice, warm, comfortable, at home and safe feeling of the “older” (Grandmother) woman. Thus, Hillary could very well be a threat as a nominee running for president.

    On a digression: Then there are the women over 70? over 80? who become “invisible”. I find myself wondering about men over 70 or 80; does anybody call them “Grampa”? Do they make people feel “safer” in this world? Do they become “invisible or do they acquire *more* knowledge and ability to run a country? I notice there actually are still male reporters on TV who are over 80. Does anyone even *comment* on their age? Just asking. And I digress and am “over” my digression.

    Then there is the article about “The Mystery of Columba Bush”, Jeb Bush’s wife; and if he were to run for president and win the office, she would be the First Lady. As far as I can see, Columba Bush plays a completely behind the scenes role as a wife and mother. I am not criticizing her in any way regarding her position regarding politics. Perhaps she just doesn’t like it at all; if she’s chosen a particular role for herself in life and is happy with it, I’m glad for it and say more power to her. But what does catch my attention in this article is that here too is a role the nation of voters would be comfortable with when it comes to a woman anywhere near politics – that of the “at home” woman, standing behind her man, supporting him. Once again: Please do *not* take this last statement as a criticism of Columba Bush; but I think it *is* a criticism of how the nation classifies women: Either a woman is capable in politics during the “Granny stage” or she’s OK in politics as the “silent woman” behind the man.

    The nation does not seem able to see women as politically capable unless they fall into one of these two categories – or at least that’s my take on these two articles in “The Atlantic” that deal with possible nominees for president in the 2016 election. Sadly, I think they likely represent the “place” women are allotted in our society when it comes to politics.

    I personally think that the world (not only our nation) would be better off if 50 percent of the political offices were held by women. Women often see things differently from men, and I think a good dose of such “different viewpoints” would be very helpful for the international community.

    As to Hillary Clinton having “never turned away from the Clinton family MO . . . but instead [she has] learned to do it even better”: Why might it be OK for a man to learn how to “do” politics better but not for a woman? To that I say: Go! Hillary!

    One last point, this time about Obama: I personally think that he’s been a great president. We need more like him. Those willing to listen to others, willing to think “out of the box”, and willing to buck those who have held power in Congress for long periods (even if he knows he probably is going to lose); we could do with more presidents like Obama. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — June 12, 2015 @ 2:54 pm

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