Right now, Hillary Clinton is as sure a lock as there’s ever been to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, but if you thought she squandered inevitability in 2008, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Up until recently, I’ve had to roll my eyes any time some media idiot compares Hillary Clinton’s monster lead in Democratic primary polling to the one she held in 2008, because the comparison is such crap on nearly every level. Her nearest competitors now, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Vice President Joe Biden, are barely polling in double digits, and very few strong Democratic candidates have indicated a willingness to run into that buzzsaw. The right wing, for its part, has done everything it can to make Hillary a more attractive candidate for Democrats.
But then, a few weeks ago, Hillary made a too-subtle-for-some appeal to white voters by casually dismissing the effect of race on opposition to President Obama, an early warning sign that maybe Clinton hadn’t learned all of the lessons of 2008. It was a small sign, to be sure, but given the amount of time and effort it has taken for Obama supporters to forgive and forget the rather naked appeals her campaign made to white voters in 2008, one worth paying attention to.
In a statement on Tuesday Ilya Sheyman, the executive director of MoveOn Political Action, said that Clinton or “any other person thinking about seeking the Democratic nomination in 2016, should think long and hard before embracing the same policies advocated by right-wing war hawks that got America into Iraq in the first place and helped set the stage for Iraq’s troubles.”
The fairness of Clinton’s criticism is a separate matter, but you’be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of a Fox News pitch meeting who would characterize one offhand remark as the President’s “organizing principle.” Hillary Clinton has a right to be wrong about foreign policy, but that part of her critique was gratuitous. You might even call it horseshit.
Still, the way things sit, Hillary Clinton can probably afford to lose a few Obama supporters (and MoveOn should try to remember that even though the President didn’t want to arm rebels, he did want to conduct airstrikes on Syria), because without a credible alternative who can beat a Republican candidate, she’s still a lock. The coalition of young, minority, and female voters that goosed turnout in 2012 and returned Obama to the White House aren’t going to completely turn on her over this, especially without a better place to put their votes.
But there is a limit to the amount of rope the Obama coalition will give Hillary Clinton, and if she keeps talking shit about Barack Obama, it will be very quickly reached. Even that might seem like a fair tradeoff, as long as Hillary can pick up enough general election “Clinton Democrats” to make it worth her while, but not if she can’t get out of the primaries.
Enter this piece of video, which was hyped-up nonsense in March, but should make Clintonworld ever-so-slightly clench right about now:
“Deval would make a great president or vice president.
“Deval’s done a great job and I think signals that he could be very successful at the federal as well.”
Gov. Patrick (Mass.), meanwhile, has since upgraded his “no” to a “maybe” on a 2016 run.
Then there’s this, from that same March interview: President was asked where he saw the future of the Democratic Party, with the Elizabeth Warren wing, or the Hillary Clinton. See if you can pick out what’s missing from his attempt at a non-answer:
“I want a Democratic Party that’s fighting for working families, and Elizabeth Warren does that, Jean Shaheen does that.“
Deval Patrick may not be willing to jump into the fray just yet, but imagine what happens to his chances, or anyone else’s, after A) Hillary Clinton spends another year remaking her “3 am” ad, and B) finally alienates the President enough to toss the keys to Organizing For America in someone else’s direction. That turnout and fundraising Death Star is enough to give even the greenest Padawan an edge, and Patrick is no apprentice.