Any serious presidential candidate needs to be able to make a simple case as to why their party should nominate them and what they would offer the electorate as a president. Mitt Romney had demonstrated mastery of the economic system; Rand Paul can broaden the appeal of the Republican party by bringing in younger voters and libertarians; Scott Walker had demonstrated that he can win contested elections; Jeb Bush has demonstrated that he can mount a broad, well financed campaign; Marco Rubio will attempt to demonstrate that he can broaden the reach of the party with Hispanics and a new generation.
What about Hillary? Why should she get the Democratic nomination? That part is easy - there is nobody else. But why should the electorate support her? That is a bit harder.
Some of the traditional reasons don't hold much promise of surviving a year's scrutiny and challenge:
- Experience. The gig as Secretary of State was intended to put her above the Argentine model of First Ladies inheriting their husband's political machines. Then came Benghazi; then came the Russian "reset button"; then came the disintegration of the Middle East. A mantle became a shroud.
- Personality. Not since Ted Kennedy killed Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick have the liberal media had such a difficult challenge in resurrecting a badly flawed character. Her complaints about a "vast right-wing conspiracy" and the "what difference does it make" response about Benghazi show an unattractive prickly side when challenged. It will take more than a charm consultant.
- Broad Policies. Depending on what the Republican challenger brings, Hillary may be able to make some hay on the major two pieces of unfinished domestic business from the Obama administration - healthcare and immigration - but most voters want significant changes to Obamacare and oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants. Elizabeth Warren has demonstrated that Hillary and her New York donors are on the wrong side of financial system reform. Maybe there is something on education - unless Jeb Bush is the Republican opponent. Global warming anyone?
So, maybe "fairness" is the silver bullet. The economic version didn't start too well when she claimed that she was broke when she and Bill left office - despite their mansions, her $200,000 speaking fees, and the jet-set lifestyle compliments of the family business, er the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Nevertheless, those of us in San Francisco can attest that the politics of envy play well with the dominant liberal political establishment and newly-minted billionaires decrying the declining fortunes of the middle class despite their good intentions, best efforts, and total control of the government.
That leaves the obvious choice for Hillary's simple case - now that we have elected an African American president, it is time that we elected a woman. There are few problems with this line:
- It is not obvious to the untrained eye of the casual observer that Barack Obama and Eric Holder have done a lot to improve race relations in America, or that the economic status and social standing of African Americans in general has been improved. Relying on the good will of the American public may be good politics, but there probably will be fewer voters in 2016 than in 2008 willing to make the leadership of the Free World a testament to their enlightenment.
- One could ask the question why the top eight paid workers at the Clinton Foundation are men, and why women on Senator Clinton's staff were paid 72% of what men were paid for comparable jobs. Perhaps the White House can share their explanation as to why the average man on President Obama's staff makes $10,000 more than the average woman. Perhaps it just demonstrates that the system which the Republicans created leaves so much more work to be done.
- The media's recent efforts to underpin the "war on women" theme has suffered setbacks with the exposure of Rolling Stone's fraudulent story about gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity and a San Francisco jury's decision that venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins - the paramount example of Silicon Valley meritocracy - was not guilty of gender discrimination in firing a junior partner. Maybe political correctness has gone one bridge too far.
- And the final problem - Carly Fiorina. One cannot be sure why the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and failed US Senate candidate thinks that she should be president, but there should be no doubt that her role in the Republican pantheon of candidates is to be the first responder to the "war on women" theme. For that, the next president and the nation will owe her a debt of gratitude.
This week's "bonus", rather than a video, is an excellent, concise analysis by Stratfor of the complicated and momentous civil war in Yemen.
bill bowen - 4/10/15