Three Arguments

Remnick on Hillary and 2016

Hillary and 2016: So if she runs, how quickly will she become controversial?

David Remnick joins the club. He opens a report, out today, from this past weekend, which he spent at a pow-wow of big foreign policy machers in Washington, thus:

Hillary Clinton is running for President. And the Israeli political class is a full-blown train wreck. These are two conclusions, for whatever they are worth, based on a three-day conference I attended this weekend at the annual Saban Forum, in Washington, D.C...

...Friday night, however, was on the record—and surprisingly revealing. Hillary Clinton was the main speaker. In a packed ballroom of the Willard Hotel, she was greeted with a standing ovation and then a short, adoring film, a video Festschrift testifying to her years as First Lady, senator, and, above all, secretary of state. The film, an expensive-looking production, went to the trouble of collecting interviews with Israeli politicians—Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni—and American colleagues, like John Kerry. Tony Blair, striking the moony futuristic note that was general in the hall, said, “I just have an instinct that the best is yet to come.”

Moony...nice adjective. Anyway, I'm with him, mostly. As I've written, I think her interest is keen but still provisional, depending on the circumstances. I think she'll run if she's healthy and if she's confident she can win. Having to commit to a presidential race as early as one does these days makes the second half of my equation a little dicey--what if she declares, starts running, even gets the nomination, and then a financial collapse hits, thus favoring the Republican?. But I mean to extent she can control or account for such factors, I think she'll be careful about doing so.

One wonders how quickly after she leaps back into the arena she'll become a "divisive" figure again. Argument A: immediately, because she'll immediately be taking political positions again and will immediately become fair game. Argument B: Not quite immediately but something close to that, especially the first time she takes a controversial position. Argument C: To a surprising extent, those "most divisive woman in politics" days will be behind her, because she and we (or most of we) will just have outgrown that for a host of reasons, while the people who haven't outgrown it will natter on in their usual way, but it won't resonate any more than their nonsense about Obama resonates because most of America sees that they're a bunch of bilious kooks.

I think Argument C actually has a chance to gain altitude here. By 2016, 24 years will have passed since the time Hillary said all those allegedly shocking things in 1992 about getting two for one and so on. She's proven herself. If the economy is strong and the national mood is good, it's hard to see what force could make her lose. I'd like to see it all happen just to watch Fox that night.