Running parallel to her work as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton’s possible presidential run in 2016 has dominated any story about her in the last few months. Conservative pundits are shivering at the idea of a second Clinton campaign, worried that she’ll trounce whomever they put forward, meanwhile Clinton fans are just salivating at the thought of having a second Clinton presidency.
But I think the happy talk of Clinton’s sure-fire prospects are much too premature.
2016 is still four years away – a lifetime in politics. We don’t know what will happen in four years, and what sort of job President Barack Obama will do in his second term – a disastrous second term (as unlikely as it seems) would seriously imperil chances of a Clinton victory (or any Democrat’s victory).
Also, we don’t know what Clinton will do for the next four years, but we do know that it probably won’t be politics anymore. So that added to the four years of diplomatic work that she did would mean that Clinton spent a whopping 8 years out of politics. And while her foreign policy creds are immeasurably heightened, it came at the expense of her domestic policy prowess, which until she became secretary of state, was her strong suit.
And while her work as secretary of state was widely admires – and justly so – she really has proven to be an uber-competent, energetic and enthusiastic about her job, it’s not the kind of work that I imagine voters getting to hepped up over. Foreign policy is an already tough sell for presidential elections, and Clinton’s human rights interest, specifically the rights of women and children will seem soft and too feminine, and I think it’ll be difficult for many voters to get behind such a profile. Clinton’s thesis is that if a country is stable, and if its women and children are treated fairly and have access to quality education, clean food and water, and a voice in the government and the economy, then that said country will be less likely a safe haven for terrorists, thereby ensuring the national security of the United States. This isn’t a new idea, nor is it solely Clinton’s, but it’s not an intuitive one. How excited would voters be over Clinton’s push for micro-loans or clean cooking ovens? She would have to reaffirm her toughness, which would probably translate to the kind of bellicose rhetoric she adopted in her failed 2008 presidential bid.
Also, I’m starting to feel a real sense of deja vu over all this Hillary Clinton as president talk. Before 2008, she was a sure-fire thing too, dominating all the polls, and entering the race with an inflated sense of entitlement. And in its initial stages, her campaign had an irritating tone of inevitability, which most likely turned off more voters.
And I say all this as a Clinton admirer. I think she’s a great leader, and I think she’d make a great president. But just like everything else in her professional life, this wouldn’t be something that would come easy, and she’d have to work hard to get it.