The headlines, especially on the right, make things seem dire for Hillary. The FBI is checking her e-mail server to see if she had any classified information on her private server! They parlay that into the usual accusations that Hillary (or the Clintons) are untrustworthy, dirty, or worse. Those surprised by the venom launched at Obama don’t recall how similar attacks were launched against the Clintons in the 90s. They don’t stick because nothing is there, save Bill’s infamous affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Still, Democrats are getting nervous. Not only do they worry about the e-mail affair, but they recall how her well oiled campaign machine, seemingly unstoppable in 2007, was thrown off the tracks by Barack Obama’s insurgent rise to the top. Maybe she just isn’t a good candidate. Except for two relatively easy Senate bids in New York, she doesn’t have an electoral track record. She wouldn’t even have had those wins if her husband hadn’t been President. Democrats worry that if Republicans get a quality candidate (Kasich, Rubio, Fiorina, or Walker), she’ll not be able to pull it off.
Add to that the unexpected surge of Bernie Sanders. A Senator who once called himself a socialist (he doesn’t do that anymore) is sparking support among the same progressives that made Obama’s rise possible. Yet unlike Obama he’s an old, white man who doesn’t seem to have broad appeal. How can he be so strong? In this context Joe Biden is considering entering the fray, albeit with a weird promise to only serve one term. I like Biden, but he’s even more unlikely to win the Presidency than Sanders.
But don’t write Hillary off, she’s still the most likely to get the nomination and the Presidency.
First, she has money, support, an infrastructure, and an energized base. Many of her supporters were furious that Obama upended her in 2008 and still want her to be the first female President. If anything this early challenge, compared to this point in 2007 when she seemed unstoppable, is going to get her campaign in a serious fight mode.
Second, the e-mail affair only has traction among the right wing, and it’ll run it’s course long before the 2016 calendar year begins. Just as the Baltimore riots won’t hurt O’Malley, this will be old news in a short while. If something like this is going to come out, better it be in the summer the year before the election. When you look closely, she’s actually a clean candidate. The attempts to create scandals around her have failed, and while she can be criticized for carelessness, others in government have done the same – it’s a problem more with how to deal with modern communication technology than any sort of “scandal.”
Third, she is more qualified now than she was in 2008, and the timing is better. Thanks to President Obama, she has had four years of grueling foreign policy work as Secretary of State, making her more ready than ever for that 3:00 AM call. In 2008 the country was sick of the status quo, and Obama won in part due to anger about the Iraq war and the economic collapse. She was a status quo candidate – harkening back to the 90s. People wanted fresh. In 2016 things have stabilized and her message of competence and experience will sell much better.
For the Hillary haters – the good news is that you can enjoy the emotion of attacking Hillary, maybe for nearly another decade. She still remains the best bet to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January 2017. If she does, she’ll definitely have shown persistence and resilience.