Charles Pierce doesn’t want Hillary to get the nomination without a fight. He identifies “the worst thing about accepting as axiomatic the notion of the cleared field”:
It makes effective coalition-building beyond the mainstream impossible. Change within nothing but acceptable parameters is stillborn, and the really serious problems affecting the country get sanded over and obscured by tactics. People whose lives have been ground up over the past decade have their appeals drowned out by the hoofbeats of the horse race. …
To accept the idea that Hillary Clinton has cleared the field is not merely to put the Democratic party on the razor’s edge of one person’s decision. It also is to give a kind of final victory to tactics over substance, to money over argument, to an easy consensus over a hard-won mandate, and ultimately, to campaigning over governing. It is an awful, sterile place for a political party to be.
Meanwhile, Haberman and Thrush report on a meeting between Hillary and former Obama campaign guru David Plouffe. They discussed why she lost in 2008:
Plouffe told Clinton and two of her closest advisers—longtime aide Cheryl Mills and John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and now Obama’s White House counselor—what she needed to do to avoid another surprise upset. His advice, according to two people with knowledge of the session, looked a lot like Obama’s winning strategy in 2012: First, prioritize the use of real-time analytics, integrating data into every facet of her operation in a way Clinton’s clumsy, old-school campaign had failed to do in 2008. Second, clearly define a rationale for her candidacy that goes beyond the mere facts of her celebrity and presumed electability, rooting her campaign in a larger Democratic mission of economic equality. Third, settle on one, and only one, core messaging strategy and stick with it, to avoid the tactical, news cycle-driven approach that Plouffe had exploited so skillfully against her in the 2008 primaries.
In Plouffe’s view, articulated in the intervening years, Clinton had been too defensive, too reactive, too aware of her own weaknesses, too undisciplined in 2008. His team would goad her into making mistakes, knowing that run-of-the-mill campaign attacks (like Obama’s claim she merely had “tea,” not serious conversation, with world leaders as first lady) would get under her skin and spur a self-destructive overreaction (Clinton responded to the tea quip by falsely portraying a 1990s goodwill trip to Bosnia with the comedian Sinbad as a dangerous wartime mission). She was too easily flustered.
Plouffe’s last and most pressing point was about timing. … Plouffe, with the politesse of a man accustomed to padding around a president, implored her to start assembling a campaign as soon as possible and to dispense with the coy fiction that she’s not running in 2016. “Why not?” he asked. “They are already going after you.”