Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Prospect For Hillary Clinton Other Than Running For President

Sen. Hillary Clinton obviously brings a lot to any presidential candidacy. She is talented, determined and she has vast experience. She is not a cut-and-runner on the war. But like Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, she is a divisive figure, and in a year in which the Democrats would seem to stand an excellent chance of regaining the White House, she probably does not afford the party as good a chance as it might otherwise have.

Now, according to an Op Ed Page piece appearing in today's Los Angeles Times, by Ezra Klein, a writing fellow at the American Prospect, there may be another career avenue opening up for Mrs. Clinton.

Klein reports rumors that Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate Minority Leader, has offered to step aside in Mrs. Clinton's favor in 2009. This would allow her to use her talents in a substantial post, and clear the way, as Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York's decision not to seek the Presidency in 1992, did for an eventual winning candidacy. (Cuomo's bowing out led, of course, to Bill Clinton's emergence as a winning Democratic candidate).

This would hardly be the first time in American history that an early front runner did not end up being a major party presidential nominee. William Seward, after he failed to win the 1860 Republican nomination (he was defeated by an upstart at the GOP Convention, Abraham Lincoln), accepted an important consolation prize, that of Secretary of State in the Lincoln administration. Sen. Robert Taft, who also faced an uphill run, did not win the 1952 Republican nomination, allowing Dwight D. Eisenhower to win as the Republican candidate. And there have been other cases.

Klein's article this morning sums up Mrs. Clinton's difficulties well. Although she is the best known of the prospective Democratic candidates (even more famous than the party's failed nominee in 2004, Sen. John Kerry, or its narrowly failed 2000 nominee, Al Gore), she still has a negative poll rating, and she trails two perspective Republican nominees, Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

I believe a woman could be elected president, and, when she ran for the Senate from New York state in 2000 Mrs. Clinton proved a formidable campaigner. She is an impressive fundraiser. But it is undoubtedly true that her path to the presidency would be an uphill one.

After eight years of President George W. Bush, the country deserves a wide open race for the Presidency, a thorough debate on the issues, and it would be a shame if that race were overshadowed by a divisive candidacy.

So, if there is a chance Mrs. Clinton could assume an important but subsidiary position, I hope she goes for it.

Who would emerge as the Democratic candidate? I would hope it would be a moderate, someone who would not advocate that the country retreat into isolationism. The front loaded nature of the Democratic race, too many party primaries crowded toward the beginning, may impede a wide open, considered race. But, in any case, let's begin and see how it comes out. Mrs. Clinton would be doing a public service if she stepped aside.

Note: This was written before I knew that Time magazine had a cover story on Mrs. Clinton this week. At the time of writing this, I had not read it.


Blogger Justine said...

"So, if there is a chance Mrs. Clinton could assume an important but subsidiary position, I hope she goes for it."

Ah women are always consigned to "subsidiary" positions. It's time to change that. You're losing the talents of more than half the population. Hillary is every bit as electable as any of the male contenders. In fact she is more electable than most in terms of her skill, intelligence, name-recognition, fundrasing ability and ability to outlast and counter Republican attacks.

The only reason a "subsidiary" position is suggested is because of something lacking in those who say they can envisage a woman President but just not now, or not this one or someother tiresome prevarication. She is smart enough, she's capable enough and she is electable enough.

A country that has elected incompetents like Bush ought to be prepared to think outside the box of white male at this stage, lest the rest of the world suffer another four or even eight years with a "likeable" guy you could have a beer with (were he not a recovered alcoholic...and methinks, not particularly likable guy.)

Honestly, having seen the people who can get elected (or otherwise) as Commander in Chief, it can't be that hard can it with the right marketing. Marketing and money is all that is required at the end of the day. The people seem willing to vote for just about anything packaged the right way (white male, good drinking buddy clearing brush and shooting at small birds or fishing).

It's about time substance mattered.

10/08/2006 1:01 PM  

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