No Spin Zone
Bernie's Latest Column: Do We Really Want Another Coronation in 2016?
By: Bernie GoldbergAugust 20, 2013

Maybe you’ve seen the bumper stickers, or at least heard about them – the ones that say “I’m Ready for Hillary.”  Surely you know about the CNN documentary about Mrs. Clinton that’s in the works — and the NBC mini-series that’s “in development.”  Or how about The New York Times decision that’s already put a reporter on the Hillary beat — full time?  Or that Twitter account she just opened.  So why waste everybody’s time with that silly question we all know the answer to?

Of course she’ll run in 2016.  And when she does, she’ll win the nomination even if some other Democrat is foolish enough to waste his time running against her.  The more important question, the only one that really matters, is:  Will she win the presidency in 2016?

Predicting the outcome of a presidential election more than three years off is like predicting the weather – 300 years from today.  Anything can happen in politics and it usually does.  But let’s play Carnac anyway.

Here’s what we know for sure:  the so-called mainstream media will be her most loyal base just as they are currently President Obama’s.  The media were in charge of making the arrangements for the coronation in 2008 and 2012 and they’ll be just as anxious to put on another one in 2016.

But a slobbering media won’t be enough.  Journalists didn’t single-handedly sink John McCain or Mitt Romney – they weren’t great candidates in their own right – and it won’t be enough to ensure a Hillary victory.  There are other factors working in her favor.

I recently came across a few in a piece in the Daily Beast by Myra Adams, a self-described “lifelong Republican” which ran under the headline “16 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Will Win in 2016.”  I won’t torture my conservative friends with all 16 reasons, but here are a few:

The media, as I’ve said, will be ready to crown a “queen.”

Also noted earlier, she will have no primary opposition, or a symbolic opponent at best.

She has plenty of money.

The black voting bloc along with Hispanics and Asians are hers to lose.

Bill Clinton will be a tremendous asset.

Hillary has the Electoral College working in her favor.  Here’s what Ms. Adams writes about that:

“In 2012 the final Electoral College results were 332 for Obama and 206 for Romney. If Romney had won the battleground states of Florida (29 votes), Ohio (18 votes), and Virginia (13 votes), Obama would still have been reelected but by a closer margin of 272 to 266.

“Now, just because Obama won well over 300 electoral votes does not mean Hillary will repeat that achievement. However, the path to 270 is much easier for any Democrat candidate given current and future demographic growth and established voting patterns.”

And then there’s The Great Social Movement argument put forth by Ms. Adams:

“A great social movement to elect the first Madame President is gathering wind and will reach sustained hurricane strength on November 5, 2014—the day after the midterm elections and the ‘official start’ of the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Akin to the movement that elected the first African-American president in 2008, the ‘Madame President movement’ will be propelled by the mainstream media, Hollywood, and social media. Together they will build momentum and coalitions across all platforms, while reveling in their awesome social and cultural significance. You will hear the ‘triumph of the ’60s feminist movement.’ You will hear that you will be ‘voting to make history.’ And you will hear that your vote will be used as a ‘hammer to break through the glass ceiling of the Oval Office.’

“Warning,” Myra Adams tells us, “Prepare for the onslaught, because it is coming your way.”

But can the race really be over before it’s even begun?  Conservatives say anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton is invincible has a very short memory.  With all her name recognition she still couldn’t beat a virtually unknown senator who hadn’t even served one full term in Washington — so how is she going to beat a real GOP candidate with ideas, especially after 8 years of chronically high unemployment and the onset of ObamaCare?

There’s more.  Americans don’t usually elect a candidate from the same party three times in a row.  It happens, but only rarely.  George H.W. Bush did succeed Ronald Reagan, who served two terms. And FDR won four times in a row — and was succeeded by Harry Truman.  But historically, the odds are against another Democrat winning the White House after two terms by fellow Democrat Barack Obama.

But Republicans need to understand that history isn’t destiny.  It’s only a rear view mirror.

What about another Republican argument, the one that says when you get right down to it, Hillary has no real record to run on.  Name one major (or even minor) accomplishment she’s had while Secretary of State, they ask? And that line about “what difference does it make” how four Americans were killed in Benghazi will come back to haunt her, they predict.

I don’t think so.  We live in the United States of Low Information Voters.  They don’t care about Hillary’s record.  They like her and that’s enough for them.  And there are plenty of “them.”  Hillary constantly scores high in favorability polls.  And don’t forget that Barack Obama had no record to run on either.  He won because there were enough fans out there who just plain liked him.

I have no predictions on the outcome of the 2016 race, not this far out anyway. But I will predict this: If Republican true-believers demand ideological purity – if the nominee has to be a rigid, take-no-prisoners conservative on every issue from immigration reform to abortion, and gay rights, and embryonic stem cell research – Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States of America.

“Real conservatives” didn’t like Mitt Romney and about 3 million of them stayed home on Election Day, assuring a second term for Barack Obama.  If a hard-right candidate gets the nomination in 2016, a different 3 million Republicans may very well sit home.

This is not an argument in favor of a moderate Republican.  I believe what the great Bill Buckley believed.  He wanted the most conservative candidate who could actually win the general election to get the nomination.  So do I.

But if the GOP insists on having a Civil War instead of a Big Tent, if the hardliners refuse to understand that in politics you don’t always get precisely what you want, then they will get something they not only don’t want, but don’t even want to think about:  President Hillary Clinton.

 

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