What Will Clinton Campaign On?

by Patrick Appel

Andrew Prokop picks up on Hillary’s new inequality rhetoric:

[In a recent speech,] Clinton is positioning herself as a kind of global crusader against income inequality, urging corrupt and wealthy elites to do something about this challenge. And by bringing up the Arab Spring, she alludes to the “explosive results” that could occur if the US doesn’t do something to address it. “Many Americans feel frustrated, even angry,” she said. Though Clinton never explicitly argues that social upheaval akin to the Arab Spring could happen here, bringing it up in this context clearly underscores the need for urgent action. So rather than arguing that her Secretary tenure makes her qualified to lead on foreign affairs, she’s saying it beefs up her qualifications on domestic policy.

Beinart thinks Hillary is already targeting Jeb:

Clinton is not a great inspirational speaker. She’s at her best arguing a case. And the most effective part of her speech Friday was her case for why Clinton-administration policies—an expanded earned-income tax credit, a higher minimum wage, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program—helped poor and middle-class Americans get ahead, while the Bush administration policies that followed—tax breaks for the rich, unfunded wars—made their struggles harder.

If Republicans are smart, they’ll do everything in their power to avoid this debate. First, because they want to portray Hillary as running for Barack Obama’s third term, not her husband’s, since the Obama legacy is trickier to defend. Second, because the 2016 GOP nominee needs to embody change, which is hard to do when you’re depicted as George W. Bush. Third, because Bill Clinton is about 20 points more popular than Bush, and that’s highly unlikely to change over the next two years.

The one Republican presidential candidate who can’t avoid this debate is Jeb, a man who is known to the vast majority of Americans only as George W. Bush’s brother. Running him in 2016 is like nominating a close relative of Jefferson Davis as the Democratic Party’s nominee in 1872 or nominating a prominent member of Herbert Hoover’s cabinet to represent the GOP in 1948: It dredges up a past the party desperately needs to transcend.