The Clinton-Obama Alliance

Scheiber’s onto something about Hillary’s new book:

[E]ven as Clinton’s book lays out a variety of dissents she will no doubt invoke when taking flak from Jeb Bush, for the moment she’s still far more interested in bucking up Obama than in distancing herself. Look no further than her emphatic comments on the release of Afghanistan POW Bowe Bergdahl. (“It doesn’t matter” how he was captured, she told ABC’s Diane Sawyer, “we bring our people home.”) The stand seemed to signal her posture of choice during the forthcoming book tour, and it was certainly welcome in the White House.

As for the president, as annoying as it must be to have the most popular Democrat in the country distance herself from his foreign-policy B-sides, the broader arrangement still beats any plausible alternative. Consider: If not for the way Hillary’s proto-campaign has frozen the Democratic presidential field, there would already be half-a-dozen Democratic governors and senators trooping through Iowa, complaining to anyone who will listen that Obama still hasn’t closed Guantanamo, arrested any Wall Street bankers, or brought the NSA to heel. “Put aside that she may or may not share all his positions,” says the Obama campaign adviser. “The fact that no one is doing that is a great thing for him.”

Since this is Hillary week, here are a couple of suggestions I’d make for getting queasy Obamaites like me off the fence. The first, especially in the next year or so, is an indication that while Clinton will obviously be different than Obama, in a few key respects, she will be vital to his legacy. In other words, a Clinton campaign in 2016 would not be zero-sum, as Obama’s was in 2008. It would be both an expression of support for Clinton but also for Obama.

I see her potential victory as confirming two big Obama-era shifts: universal healthcare and a less reactionary Supreme Court. In those two areas, Clinton would entrench Obama’s achievements, the way George H.W. Bush did Reagan’s. Of course, Obama is highly unlikely to end his two terms with Reagan’s ratings, so this will not be easy. On the other hand, it makes Clinton’s task as president less of an onerous one. She will not have to grapple, as Bush did, with matching his superstar predecessor, and also being vulnerable with the base. She has a superstar mantle herself – the first woman president – and an extraordinarily wide base of support in the grass roots. She’s right, in other words, not to run against Obama. If she’s canny, she’ll use him as well as he used her in 2008.

The other word of advice to Clinton would be to emphasize the Thatcher-like aspects of being a woman leader.

That means embracing her age and maturity, not running from it. It means plenty of photo-ops with the military – there’s nothing like a woman leading a bunch of soldiers to tap deep wells of emotion in the human psyche. The general theme would be “tough old broad”. And I mean that entirely as a compliment. America is not yet fully comfortable with female leadership, especially in a commander-in-chief. The way to square that is not to minimize her feminine charms but to add a drop-shadow of steeliness and toughness. She has both already. She just needs a few, carefully chosen moments of snarl.

I guess I’m saying that I’d be best charmed by a version of Obama’s and Thatcher’s heir. First, Obama’s heir with the base. Second, Thatcher’s heir with the country at large. Yeah, I know. I’m a parish of one. But I bet you I wouldn’t be the only one susceptible to one or both of these themes in the middle of the country. And Clinton could do worse than launch her campaign in those Southern Appalachian states where she made her last stand in the primaries of 2008 and began to find a clearer and more authentic voice. We need a rough, tough Hillary. And not too polished a pol.

Lady In Waiting

Hillary Clinton Awarded The 2013 Lantos Human Rights Prize

Here’s a question to send shudders up anyone’s spine:

Will new Whitewater papers reveal that the real estate deal was really a conspiracy to sell heroin?

That’s a throwaway line in a classically judicious piece from the greatest-ever Clinton-watcher, Joe Klein, as he challenges Hillary Clinton’s “inevitability” before her new (probably unreadable) book launches next week:

She can be prohibitively “political” and far more cautious than she needs to be. The trouble is, presidential campaigns can’t be managed like book tours. They tend to be overwhelmed by events and trivialities. There is a constant gotcha contest with the press. In a recent Politico article about Clinton and the press, one of her advisers is quoted: “Look, she hates you. Period. That is not going to change.” To make things worse, her top communications adviser, Phillippe Reines, argued that Clinton didn’t really hate the press. She brought bagels to the back of the bus. But bringing bagels to the back of the bus is an embarrassingly transparent ploy. Bringing candor to the back of the bus might be a little more successful. I’ve seen her candor more than once, but always off the record. That will have to change. If Hillary Clinton hopes to succeed, she’s going to have to drop the veil–spontaneously, quite possibly in a crucial moment, like a debate–and trust the public to accept who she really is. Absent that, there is no such thing as inevitability.

Keep the veil, Madame president. Just give us some indication that you are not calculation through and through. And, yes, dear reader, I’m doing my best to remain upbeat about the coming campaign, but Joe’s description of his own feelings mirror my own (and not for the first time):

I approach the coming spectacle with a combination of obsession, exhaustion, dread and exhilaration.

I’d also add deja vu. Alas, despite recent Brian Schweitzer boosterism, Kilgore fails to see which Democrat can beat Clinton:

The last crosstabbed assessment of HRC’s popularity was conducted by Public Policy Polling back in March. Her favorability rating among self-identified Democrats stood at 83% (Obama’s is currently at 79%, according to Gallup). Among those calling themselves “very liberal,” HRC’s at 91%, and at 77% with “somewhat liberal” voters (Obama’s at 70% among “liberals” of every variety, though he’s up to 81% among “liberal Democrats.”). Among African-Americans, HRC’s favorables are at 80%, and among Hispanics, 60% (Obama is now at 87% and 51% in these demographics, respectively).

Do you see a leftward path to the Democratic presidential nominations against HRC in any of these numbers, particularly if it involves trashing Obama as well as HRC? I sure don’t. Yes, Obama was able to significantly cut into HRC’s high standing among African-Americans in 2008 for obvious reasons; if Brian Schweitzer has any documented appeal to minorities other than perhaps Native Americans, I must have missed it.

(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Clinton’s Ties To Wall Street

Corn examines them:

Hillary Clinton’s shift from declaimer of Big Finance shenanigans to collaborator with Goldman—the firm has donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation—prompts an obvious question: Can the former secretary of state cultivate populist cred while hobnobbing with Goldman and pocketing money from it and other Wall Street firms? Last year, she gave two paid speeches to Goldman Sachs audiences. (Her customary fee is $200,000 a speech.) …

If Hillary does decide to seek a return to the White House, can she straddle the line? Assail the excesses of Wall Street piracy and tout the necessity of economic fair play yet still accept the embrace, generosity, and meeting rooms of Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street players? During her speech, she offered a good summation of populism, remarking “working with my husband and daughter at our foundation, our motto is ‘We’re all in this together,’ which we totally believe.” Yet her association with Goldman might cause some to wonder how firmly she holds this belief—and how serious she is about reining in those robber barons.

Judis, for one, doesn’t foresee a populist uprising anytime soon:

Why did movements against economic inequality flourish in the past, but not now? Some people on the left blame the President. If only Obama had taken a stronger stand against what Theodore Roosevelt called “the malefactors of great wealth,” the logic goes, he could have roused the country to action and prevented the rise of the Tea Party. That argument seemed persuasive to me four years ago, but no longer. If you compare the circumstances in which the older challenges to inequality took place with those now, you discover that something important has been missing and would have been missing regardless of whether Obama had sounded the tocsin. For all the talk today about stagnant wages and the long-term unemployed, today’s foot soldiers of a movement remain significantly more invested in the status quo than those who embraced populist agitators Sockless Jerry Simpson or Huey Long.

Hey, Wait A Minute, Mrs Palin

In the week I was off, former half-term governor Sarah Palin decided to go ballistic over Democratic push-back against Karl Rove’s line about Hillary’s possible “brain damage” after her fall. Palin demanded tough media scrutiny for Clinton – including medical records. Money quote:

America, you deserve fair and consistent coverage of relevant issues before deciding a Presidential/Vice Presidential ticket, so have faith the agenda-less media will refuse to push whispers and wildly inaccurate information about a partisan politician’s body part. Goodness, no one credible would print lies, continually harass a candidate’s doctor, disrupt local hospital staff, or even offer to pay locals to give “quotes” about her health records to be included in a “research book” by a public university professor (your tax dollars at work?) which the candidate’s attorney will need to respond to.

Let me agree wholeheartedly with Palin. When voting for someone to lead the US (or be the next-in-waiting), the public deserves a full accounting of a salient medical history. That’s why I repeatedly demanded Joe Biden’s medical records be released in 2008 – here, here, here, here and here. And that is all this blog asked of Palin when she was running for vice-president. Biden released his; Palin kept refusing to release hers. Her doctor effectively disappeared and refused to talk with the New York Times. Here’s the paper in October 2008:

Nothing is known publicly about Ms. Palin’s medical history, aside from the much-discussed circumstances surrounding the birth of her fifth child last April. Ms. Palin has said that her water broke while she was at a conference in Dallas and that she flew to Anchorage, where she gave birth to her son Trig hours after landing.

Last week Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Ms. Palin, said the governor declined to be interviewed or provide any health records.

When did Palin actually release something about her health? She released a two-page letter from her doctor one hour before polling day.

No records at all. Was she subjected to a press grilling? I know of no reporter who asked her to verify her Trig stories; there were no questions ever about her weird stories about giving a speech while having contractions or getting on an airplane eight months pregnant and already in labor. The McCain campaign never asked her for verification or explanation of any of these stories. Those of us who did ask were then ridiculed and slimed by the press and the campaign.

These facts need to be remembered when Palin tries to rewrite history. And one above all: all Hillary Clinton needs to do, if she is to follow Palin’s example, is to wait until an hour before the polls open, and release a brief doctor’s note saying nothing is wrong. Somehow, I don’t think the press will let her get away with that. Which raises the question of why the press let Palin get away with the same thing. And still do.

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.

Ladylike Electability

A Dartmouth study suggests that women politicians with more feminine features are more likely to win elections than their more butch peers:

In fact, “a female politician’s success was related to how feminine or masculine her face was perceived less than one half-second after its initial exposure, suggesting that the way a face’s gender is rapidly processed may translate into real-world political outcomes,” Jon Freeman, author and assistant professor at Dartmouth, said in the study’s release.

The results got even more interesting when they were broken down by region.

“In conservative areas in particular, the difference in votes between women with more masculine faces and more feminine faces becomes larger and larger as conservatism increases,” says Eric Hehman, lead author and postdoctoral researcher at Dartmouth. In other words, conservatives want their female politicians to look like ladies.

Andrew Prokop points out the study’s limitations:

The study only uses pictures of 80 female politicians, between 1998 and 2010. So the number of politicians who ran in conservative states that we’re looking at is really rather small.

Furthermore, it’s possible that female candidates who are more likely to win will pay more attention to managing their image, and will therefore release more flattering official photos (though this was apparently not the case in liberal states). The study’s authors also write that, though they did try to control for this, the experiment’s participants could have had some vague familiarity with the the images of successful female politicians — which would lead to them more easily recognizing their faces as female.

But Elizabeth Nolan Brown notes that the study squares with previous research:

There have been a bevy of studies looking at how looks play a role in the politicians’s success (see hereherehereherehere, and here). Freeman’s study—published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science—echoes a UCLA study published in 2012. In that study, researchers (including two who also collaborators on this recent study) looked at the facial features of women in the U.S. House of Representatives. Those with more stereotypically feminine features were more likely to be Republican, and the correlation increased the more conservative the lawmaker’s voting record. Lady legislators with less traditionally feminine facial features were more likely to be Democrats, fitting with the Dartmouth study finding that feminine faces offer a greater electoral advantage in conservative states.

Tom Jacobs asks what the study implies for male pols:

So why weren’t subtly ambiguous male candidates similarly penalized? While the researchers aren’t sure, they note that, given then the fact that American political leaders have historically been men, “leader-like characteristics may be automatically conferred upon male politicians.” It’s particularly striking that this effect was found “above and beyond the numerous other influences on electoral outcomes,” in the researchers’ words. One might think that voters would grow accustomed to a candidate’s face over the course of a campaign, but this research suggests otherwise.

“Although whether a politician is male or female is certainly established quite quickly, how relatively masculine or feminine his or her face appears persists,” Freeman explained. “Each time an individual encounters that politician’s face, our results suggest a state of subtle uncertainty is triggered.”

Cillizza makes the obvious connection:

It’s hard to avoid viewing this study in light of the potential (likely) candidacy of Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. As we have previously written, Clinton played down her gender — and the historic nature of her candidacy — during the 2008 candidacy, a move that we believe hurt her. She’s not likely to repeat that mistake in 2016 — if her earlier rhetoric is any indication — but the Dartmouth study suggests that what she says may matter less to voters than how she looks, all of which reaffirms that life really is just like high school.

But Jay Newton-Small cautions against reading too much into the study:

Before you start to imagine that every woman elected to higher office is a supermodel, keep in mind that the study doesn’t take into account a lot of factors such as intelligence, party affiliation, incumbency, messaging, pedigree, money, etc. “Although it may be the case that, absent other information, voters consider facial features when selecting candidates, the reality is that the experimental conditions are quite artificial,” says Jennifer Lawless, a professor at American University who studies gender in American politics. “In the contemporary electoral environment in which we see a high degree of party polarization, many scholars have found that even when candidate sex and physical appearance do matter to voters, their influence pales in comparison to incumbency, partisanship, and ideology as principal drivers of election outcomes.”

Brendan Eich And Hillary Clinton

Some of the very same people who have jumped up and down with delight as Brandon Eich lost his job will doubtless be backing Hillary Clinton for president in 2016 if she runs. The “Ready for Hillary” ranks are crowded with gay men – and good for them. But it’s worth US President Bill Clinton (l) in picture taken 16considering some consistency here. If it is unconscionable to support a company whose CEO once donated to the cause against marriage equality, why is it not unconscionable to support a candidate who opposed marriage equality as recently as 2008, and who was an integral part of an administration that embraced the Defense Of Marriage Act, signed into law by Bill Clinton? How do you weigh the relative impact of a president strongly backing DOMA – even running ads touting his support for it in the South – and an executive who spent $1000 for an anti-marriage equality Proposition?

Hillary Clinton only declared her support for marriage equality in 2013. Before that, she opposed it. In 2000, she said that marriage “has a historic, religious and moral context that goes back to the beginning of time. And I think a marriage has always been between a man and a woman.” Was she then a bigot? On what conceivable grounds can the Democratic party support a candidate who until only a year ago was, according to the latest orthodoxy, the equivalent of a segregationist, and whose administration enacted more anti-gay laws and measures than any in American history?

There is a difference, of course, between Brendan Eich and Hillary Clinton. Eich has truly spoken of the pain he once caused and owned up to it:

I know some will be skeptical about this, and that words alone will not change anything. I can only ask for your support to have the time to ‘show, not tell’; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain.”

Has either Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton ever expressed sorrow that they hurt so many lives, gave cover to some of the vilest homophobes, and credentialized themselves with some on the right by rank homophobia in the 1996 campaign? Not to my knowledge. They have regretted what they did but never taken full moral responsibility for the hurt and pain they caused.

My view is that the Clintons are not and never have been bigots.

They’re human beings in changing times who had good intentions and sometimes failed to live up to them. The same with Brandon Eich, a man with infinitely less power than the Clintons but who nonetheless did the wrong thing. The same with vast numbers of Americans who haven’t yet been persuaded by the winning arguments of those of us who have campaigned for marriage equality for decades.

Human beings are complicated and flawed – gays as well as straights; and a liberal civil society does not attempt to impose on all of them a single moral code, or consign large numbers of them to the “bigot” category because they may be laggards in a civil rights cause. That way lies madness. And the end of a liberal and tolerant society. If you can forgive the Clintons, you should be able to forgive Eich. And have a little magnanimity and restraint before you snatch moral defeat from the jaws of political victory.

(Photo: US President Bill Clinton in picture taken 16 October 1996 in San Diego gets a hug from his wife Hillary after the presidential debate with Republican candidate Bob Dole Shiley Theater. By Mike Nelson/AFP/Getty Images.)

Will Hillary Remake The Mistakes Of ’08?

by Patrick Appel

David Corn wonders:

Does she now have the ability to pull together and lead a cohesive team that can function smoothly as it oversees an operation that will conceivably spend hundreds of millions of dollars? And how will she handle what one Democratic strategist calls the “Bill problem and opportunity”? … One of the first necessary steps of a successful presidential candidate is to assemble an infrastructure that can serve the candidate and develop an effective strategy. Hillary Clinton muffed that seven years ago, and resentments still linger, with Penn symbolizing that particular failure. So some members of Hillaryland are holding their breath, looking to see what happens with Mark Penn. Although he appears to be comfortably ensconced at Microsoft, they fear he may either return to Hillary’s side or, perhaps worst, play an informal but close-in role, casting a dark shadow over the enterprise.

“I would do anything for Hillary,” one Democratic operative says. “I love her. I think she’d be a great president. Anything. Except work with Mark Penn.”

How Much Is Hillary Clinton Like Claire Underwood?

There seem to be two major responses to the Washington Free Beacon’s enterprising investigation into the Diane Blair documents at the Clinton library University of Arkansas Special Collections library. The first is: up and at ’em! She’s a candidate for president (well she hasn’t ruled it out); her record in public life is obviously germane; what’s the problem? The second is: can we not revisit the entire 1990s? It was bad enough at the time. And please, give the Clintons a break after all these years. Byron York makes the first case; Frank Bruni makes the second.

York wins by a mile, it seems to me. When you’re electing a president, obviously his or her character under pressure is an important thing to understand. Many candidates – like Obama, for example – have such a slim record in public life (and such an apparently impeccable private life) that the details can be a little sparse. Nonetheless, we know about his pot-smoking, his intimate family background (not least because he wrote his own book about them), his marriage, his friendships, his religious affiliations, and on and on. Now think of what we learned (and didn’t!) about a former half-term governor’s improbable rise. When you come to someone like Hillary Clinton, who’s been in the halls of power for two interminable decades, the record is much deeper and wider. It is not somehow prying into someone’s zone of legitimate privacy to note the following, as York does, in order to counter the hagiography that has emerged in the last decade or so:

New voters also need to learn about Mrs. Clinton’s checkered history as a lawyer and the game of hide-and-seek she played with federal prosecutors who subpoenaed her old billing records as part of the Whitewater investigation. After two years of defying subpoenas and not producing the records, she suddenly claimed that they had been in a closet in the White House residence all along.

Add to that Clinton’s amazing $100,000 windfall in cattle futures and the shenanigans in the White House travel office, and you’re dealing with completely legit questions about ethics in public life. The benefit of time passing is that these maneuvers can be seen more dispassionately, and dismissed as ancient news, if appropriate. I can’t imagine, for example, that cattle futures will figure prominently in the 2016 campaign. And Clinton’s stonewalling the largely-debunked Whitewater “scandal” may well burnish her rep for steeliness, rather than make her seem conniving.

But what about the Lewinsky mess, which was obviously not her doing, which derailed her husband’s second term, and in which she was much more sinned against than sinning? I don’t believe it should be a prominent feature of the campaign – and trying to shoehorn it into the debate, as Rand Paul has been doing, is bound to boomerang. Forcing a spouse to relive her husband’s infidelity and dishonesty and even perjury crosses a line in civility Americans are rightly sensitive to. But the trouble is – this wasn’t an entirely private matter – you can’t erase impeachment from history –  and the Clintons, in any case, have a strong story to tell about Republican over-reach. There is, moreover, a completely legitimate question to be drawn from the episode: What does it tell us about Hillary Clinton’s political character?

It tells us that she is one cool customer. Claire Underwood has a doppelganger. Here’s the money quote for me from the WFB piece:

In her conversations with Blair, the first lady gave her husband credit for trying to end the affair with Lewinsky, and said he did not take advantage of his White House intern. “It was a lapse, but she says to his credit he tried to break it off, tried to pull away, tried to manage someone who was clearly a ‘narcissistic loony toon’; but it was beyond control,” wrote Blair. “HRC insists, no matter what people say, it was gross inappropriate behavior but it was consensual (was not a power relationship) and was not sex within any real meaning (standup, liedown, oral, etc.) of the term.”

So for Clinton, there is no power dynamic at work in a female intern having an affair with the president of the United States. I’d love to see her make that case in other sexual harassment cases. And for Hillary, Bill Clinton was not lying when he said that he did not have sex with Lewinsky. On the question of Bill’s honesty, Hillary thinks he was always telling the truth. As for feminism, Hillary Clinton had more sympathy for Bob Packwood than for the countless women he grotesquely harassed and groped:

In a Dec. 3, 1993, diary entry, Blair recounted a conversation with the first lady about “Packwood”—a reference to then-Sen. Bob Packwood, an influential Republican on health care embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal. “HC tired of all those whiney women, and she needs him on health care,” wrote Blair.

If a Republican male candidate were on record calling the victims of Bob Packwood’s depravity “whiney women”, I have a feeling the Democrats would be using that quote quite expansively in any campaign. Then there’s the campaign to smear any women who might have had sexual relations with Bill:

In a confidential Feb. 16, 1992, memo entitled “Possible Investigation Needs,” Clinton campaign staff proposed ways to suppress and discredit stories about the then-Arkansas governor’s affairs. Campaign operatives Loretta Lynch and Nancy McFadden wrote the memo, addressed to campaign manager David Wilhelm. The first item on the itinerary discussed “GF,” a reference to Gennifer Flowers, the actress and adult model who had recently disclosed her 12-year affair with Bill Clinton. “Exposing GF: completely as a fraud, liar and possible criminal to stop this story and related stories, prevent future non-related stories and expose press inaction and manipulation,” said the memo.

Now of course Hillary knew full well of her husband’s long affair with Gennifer Flowers. But that didn’t stop her from trying to smear her as a “fraud, liar and possible criminal.” And that, it seems to me, speaks to a level of political calculation that is well worth considering in a future president. And it can work both ways. I suspect many partisan Democrats – after Obama’s civil, patient attempt to negotiate with a deranged GOP – will long for a president who will wage war on the right, take no prisoners, and generally Claire-Underwood the opposition. Maybe many independents will like that as well. But you cannot make that case while simultaneously portraying Clinton as a feminist icon. If someone describes the victims of sexual harassment as “whiney women,” if she buys Bill Clinton as a victim who told the truth in the Lewinsky scandal, and if she is capable of knowingly destroying the reputation of a woman who could disrupt her pursuit of power, then she is not, I’m afraid, a feminist icon. She is something a lot more formidable and cynical than that.

Clinton’s Achilles Heels, Ctd

Masket doubts that Hillary’s thin record will prevent her from winning the White House:

As Barack Obama demonstrated, a lack of legislative accomplishments will prevent you neither from becoming president nor from accruing impressive legislative accomplishments once you’re there. And voters don’t really care much about rationale, probably aware that every presidential candidate’s true rationale is, “I’d like to be president and I think I’d do a pretty good job.” These are mainly issues that political journalists stew over, and not without cause! Writing about the same person in the same way for a quarter century is extremely tedious, particularly when that person is sitting on a large lead and her strategy is to say as few risky things as possible.

But voters, we know from a long line of research (PDF), don’t really focus on these things when deciding on their next president.

Their main concerns are the status of the economy, the presence or absence of war, and the perceived moderation of the candidates. If the economy is growing reasonably well in 2016, if we are not engaged in a massive bloody war, and if Clinton is not perceived as excessively ideological (relative to her Republican opponent), she’ll have a very good shot of winning the general election. A recession that year would likely doom her or any other Democratic presidential candidate.

Nevertheless, PM Carpenter is dreading the Clinton campaign:

The other day someone chastised me on this site for being ignorantly unenthused by another Clinton candidacy, since the alternative could only be–egads–a Republican president. On that point, I’m in full accord with the chastiser. Anyone is preferable to a Huckabee or a Paul or God forbid another Bush. To my mind, that goes without saying. But I guess, duly criticized, I should be saying that a lot, as we proceed to the presidential sweepstakes: Hillary is better than the ghastly alternatives.

That’s quite the rallying cry.