Monday, November 10, 2014

"Time Keeps On Slippin'"

I will keep this brief.  The 4:05 pm to Saskatoon is boarding soon and my sprint from Parking Garage A to the ticket counter resulted in four exclamations to “Watch out,” two muttered apologies and one spilled latte. Thankfully, the coffee wasn’t mine.

Anyone who believes they can run for President, seeking the nomination of a major party, and wait on announcing until the summer of 2015 is either a complete dolt…or Hillary Clinton, because she could get away with it.   She wouldn’t tarry to that extent, but she has advantages that none of her likely Democratic rivals can match: astronomically high name recognition & solid Fav/Unfav numbers among likely D primary voters/caucus attendees, a broad network of supporters (ranging from top-flight operatives to keyed-in local elected officials and activists), massive fundraising potential, a spouse who (when on his game) is probably the most persuasive advocate for Democratic candidates and causes since JFK, and a personal biography that seems ideally suited for the Challenges of Today.  Do you think Bernie Sanders is going to stop that juggernaut?  Extremely unlikely.

She could afford to wait, if she wanted to. That said, she won’t. I would wager dollars to doughnuts, that Clinton will most likely announce her intentions in early some point between January 1 and March 31...most likely in the first half of that window.

For the record: I am not, viscerally, a huge fan of HRC.  Intellectually, I admire her accomplishments and respect her brainpower and toughness.  Genuine heavy mettle.  I think she would be a good president, perhaps even very good.

Perhaps I just find the Clinton family saga a little tiresome.  Maybe my thinking on the matter will evolve, and it is all about making the best choice from the available options.  That said, my last votes for a Clinton occurred back in ’92 (once in March, again in November).  Pissed off on how he handled the Lani Guinier nomination, I decided I would not vote for his re-election in 1996.  I ended up casting my ballot for Steve Forbes in the GOP primary, and for Senator Bob Dole in the General. 

But that was the other Clinton.  Fast forward to late 2007, I favored then-Senator Obama’s stance on the War and his overall positioning, slightly to the left of then-Senator Clinton… a good mainstream progressive from the Heartland. 

But now, deep into the second term of the Obama Presidency, with Official DC turning its critical, menaced and slightly rum-soaked eyes to 2016 and whispering of Iowa, of New Hampshire…and facing the near inevitability of yet another Clinton campaign.  One must ask, is this her time? 

In the post WWII era, few candidates who aren’t sitting Presidents, incumbent Vice Presidents or Bushes have had such a clear road to the nomination of a major party. Adlai Stevenson’s second run in ’56 comes close, and even he had to contend with Estes Kefauver, who was no slacker.

So who will step up on the D side?  I have a list of 38 names.  Many of the other 37 won’t run.  Some might explore it, then opt against such an arduous campaign.  A handful will get into the race, I would estimate no more than four or five serious candidates in addition to former Secretary of State Clinton. In short, a small field by modern standards. 

There will be a challenger from the Far Left (right this way Senator Sanders), a slot for a conservative Democrat who wants to over-correct based on one interpretation of the 2014 election results (greetings Senator Manchin), a couple of candidates who want to be in the mix because a) they believe they have a compelling story to tell and b) Hillary might stumble…let’s just put in former Senator Webb and current Governor Martin O’Malley in this category….for now.  The former is an interesting possibility, given his populist inclinations and swing state geographic base.   Potentially very interesting.  O’Malley was dinged, probably not irreparably, based on last week’s election outcomes in Maryland…but he remains a decided long-shot.

Oh yes, and let us not forget Vice President Joe Biden.  First, I don’t believe he will run again.   He had two decent opportunities. I recall his 1988 campaign vividly and his 2008 effort recently.  Second, he is a fine public servant but he is not the future of the Democratic Party.  

The progressive wing will long for Senator Elizabeth Warren, some of the unreconstructed will want the ageless Jerry Brown to saddle up once more, Rahm may practice speeches in his bathroom mirror, and Senator Booker will keep his calendar open for 2024.

Me? I will probably spend the Holidays pondering the possibility of a Cuomo, the reemergence of Feingold or Dean, the potential of Gillibrand, or if John Cusack is ready to take a break from this acting nonsense and get into politics in a serious way.   

That said, I will most likely be wearing a Clinton button on 12/31/2015…just like many of you will too. 

But who knows? 

In any event, it is all coming sooner than you think.  The calendar demands it.  Beware those who jump in late, history has not been kind to them.

With that in mind…up next…a look at the Republicans.  And yes, they will probably go Establishment again in 2016, in case you were wondering.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

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