Welcome to 2008. It's back to the future. The very same elements that toppled Hillary Clinton’s "inevitable" nomination six years ago are once again falling into place. There’s another law school professor with only two years in the Senate who is suddenly front and center. And this time, it's a woman.
That makes all the difference.
Polling shows that the leading reason for voting for Hillary is that she’s a woman; that’s followed by a desire to see a female president. Hillary’s experience runs a poor third in the list of positive attributes. So Hillary is especially vulnerable to a female candidate.
Particularly to a female candidate named Elizabeth Warren. The contrast between Warren, whose career achievements are indisputably her own and Hillary, whose advancement has been a derivative of her husband is stark. Hillary’s finely tuned machine looks antiseptic and stale compared with the contagious enthusiasm of the legions of grassroots activists energized by Warren — just as they were by Barack Obama. As ambassador to France, Gouverneur Morris said that the French "prefer lightning to light." So do Democrats.
And Warren’s signature issue — fighting the corruption of Wall Street elites and big banks — contrasts perfectly with Hillary’s and Bill Clinton’s post-government careers highlighted by raking in millions from Wall Street.
Bill’s approval of the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act, which set in motion the shenanigans that led to the 2008 crash, and his role in blocking regulation of derivatives will both loom as major issues in a Hillary vs. Warren contest. And that won’t help Hillary.
So will Warren run? Her disclaimers are in the present tense: "I am not a candidate for president." But there’s been a seismic change: Warren’s passionate battle to kill anti-consumer provisions inserted in the CR by bank lobbyists has enhanced her stardom and credibility.
Politics abhors a vacuum and the demand for an anti-corporate cronyism candidate and a woman not named Hillary is gigantic. This tidal force is sure to become a tsunami to carry it through election day. In a sense, it will work like the last real presidential draft: Robert Kennedy in 1968. Once again, the demand will force the candidate’s hand.
If Warren takes away gender as an issue, Hillary is stuck with experience as her major credential. Someone recently said that Hillary’s is a resume without accomplishments. Her record as first lady is one of failure on healthcare. Her only successes were standing by her man and being handed a Senate seat. Her most important legislative achievement was the naming of the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in Lower Manhattan. As secretary of state, hers is a record of failure in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia, Ukraine, China, Venezuela, and Honduras. Her biggest failure is, of course, Benghazi. Her successes? Name them.
As the Iraq War escalates, she will face stronger anti-war sentiment. She cannot disapprove of Obama’s policies that she helped formulate. But Warren can disagree all she wants — as she proved in the CR battle she just waged.
Further bad news for Hillary is that her biggest advantage — her ability to raise money — will add to her woes. She’ll have to explain and, ultimately eat her donor list. Warren’s candidacy can likely be funded primarily over the Internet as Obama did in 2008. But Hillary will rely on her Rolodex filled with banks and corporate cronies to raise funds, putting her exactly in the crosshairs of Warren’s attacks on Wall Street. Warren will live off Hillary’s donor list.
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