The Formidable Hillary Clinton

Vice President Cheney was right when he said Sen. Hillary Clinton will be a formidable candidate for President.

She has Secret Service protection 24/7 (which every other Democrat running for President craves) and that gives her instant status in the candidate meetings and pot-luck suppers in the early primary states.

She is a rock star to unmarried women under 30 (and possibly highly educated women over 50) who will vote for her with their eyes shut tight, because she is a woman. The under-30 unmarried female is a huge and usually untapped demographic, and one that will turn out for Hillary—despite their chronic non-voting history.

She has the most brilliant U.S. political operative and one of the best campaigners at her side, former President Clinton. High-profile globe trotting or appearances by former President Clinton will be pre-campaigning, and parallel campaigning, an unprecedented and extremely valuable asset in U.S. presidential politics. (Here is a politically relevant question: Will former President Clinton live at the White House if Sen. Clinton becomes President?)

She has access and the loyalty of veteran Democratic political operatives (not voters, but operatives) who have waged and won presidential campaigns before—and can be counted on not to make amateur mistakes.

She will have early money and name recognition, the real life blood of any presidential run, and a huge advantage over any other possible candidate—especially Al Gore and John Kerry, who have lost once already.

She can count on Bill to deliver the black vote, the one place the Democrats have seen erosion for the last three election cycles.

She can say she has lived in the White House for eight years, was essentially the White House chief of staff, is in her second term as a U.S. senator and is among the most qualified of all Americans to be President.

She will raise the question of healthcare by simply reminding voters that she tried to do something about the high price of healthcare, but was stopped by the Republicans. (No one will remember what she tried to do, but that she did try.)

She has been busily moderating her stands on most policy matters, and has made a specific point of finding some legislation to work with virtually every Republican senator on—to both their political benefit. This has contributed mightily to her budding image of playing well with others. Her joint appearances with former Speaker Newt Gingrich on healthcare issues are a perfect case in point.

She is no longer a campaign-challenged candidate. She has had two state-wide races to practice, and her wide margin of victory in New York will be Exhibit A in her list of reasons she can win.

Now many will object strenuously to this analysis, saying a woman can never be President, and certainly not the divisive Hillary. (They are likely the same analysts who were advising that the Republicans were going to keep the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate in the midterm elections.) One key reason that most object to a woman being President is that they do not believe a woman can be tough enough. Hillary does not have this problem.

Lately, there has been talk of Hillary’s being too moderate to win the Democratic nomination. (This view is hilariously stupid.) Thinking Democrats will realize that the fact that Hillary is a baby-hawk on Iraq is one more reason she can win the general election and goes to heart of another key doubt most have about a woman President: the willingness to order the use of force. Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (D.-Conn.) win in the general election will serve as an additional talking point as to why the rabid-anti-war Democrats should not be trusted on questions of electability.

Is the news universally so bad for Republicans that even the good news of John Kerry’s downgrade in “presidential” status after the brilliant National Guard unit’s hand-painted sign surfaced in Iraq, really bad news in disguise? Yes. It merely helped clear the field for Hillary, a much more serious threat than the over-thinking-policy-nerd-foot-in-mouth-Kerry.

Further, there appears to be no serious challenger to Hillary, the media’s fawning over Sen. Barack Obama notwithstanding.

And now that the chronic we-can’t-win doubts harbored by Democrats have been swept aside by their thumping of Republicans, they will begin to exhibit the self-confidence to dare-to-think-about-Hillary. (She is who they really want, in their heart of hearts.)

Given the 2006 election results, five red states are at least in play in ’08, if not seriously in doubt about whether they stay red: Iowa, Ohio, Colorado, Missouri and New Mexico. If the Dems keep all the blue states they won in 2004, they need any three of the five states above to take the White House, or just Ohio, or just Missouri and Colorado.

Add a moderate running mate like Sen. Evan Bayh (D.-Ind.) and Indiana could be up for grabs, too (see Indiana’s midterm election results.)

Furthermore, the long-term political weather report for Republicans is not good. Taking a page from the Republican playbook during the last two years of President Clinton’s second term, the Democrats will launch relentless congressional hearings and investigations with the goal of making President Bush so radioactive that the public will not want another Republican in the White House, regardless of who wins the GOP nomination. (It will also force GOP hopefuls with a tough choice, defend Bush or watch as unanswered attacks build up like kindling on a funeral pyre for their or any other GOP candidate’s hopes to win in ’08.)

To wit, the most favorable point in Hillary’s successful march to the White House may be the overall political climate facing Republicans in 2008. Add a pinch of down turn in the economy, a liberal dose of chaos in Iraq with the U.S. receding and Iran rising (with their continued drive for their own nuclear weapons) more global warming like weather patterns, and it is possible that the strategic political correlation of forces in 2008 will favor the Democrats so much so that whoever the Democrats nominate will be our next President.

But 2008 is a long time away, and much can change. Let’s hope things do change and that the reasoning herein turns out to be wrong or missing a key point; otherwise Hillary Clinton will be our next President.