Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Clinton Challenge

Hillary Clinton hasn’t decided to run for president, but she is the prohibitive Democratic frontrunner
and is being treated as a candidate by the party establishment, the media and the Republican Party.

Winning a presidential nomination without serious competition tends to reduce the damage primaries produce. But Clinton still faces major challenges:
  • Eight years of a Democratic administration has worn down the brand. National Democrats still know how to campaign, but they don’t look good at governing.
  • Clinton represents the political establishment. The Washington-New York version is even less liked than the Brussels version, which just lost seats in the EU election.
  • The Democratic Party, as it heads to the 2016 election, is moving hard to the left. Clinton is planted firmly in the party’s center left and not anxious to advocate a host of new expensive programs and controversial regulatory and redistribution initiatives.
  • President Obama has lost the advantage on foreign policy that he held throughout the 2012 election. He’s now being criticized by much of the foreign policy establishment and the mainstream media. Separating herself from his performance won’t be easy since she was the Secretary of State during his first term. Clinton is also challenged to appear loyal, yet independent, on the frequent new issues Obama is facing.
  • Try as she might, every act is now seen as campaigning. Three years allows for a lot of mistakes, the media looking for new stories and voter fatigue from Clinton’s inevitability.
In fact, it’s rare two-term presidents can hand off to their successor, often their vice president. Ronald Reagan did it to G. H.W. Bush, but Bush II didn’t, nor did Bill Clinton or Dwight Eisenhower.

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