Commentary Magazine: Opinion: Jonathan S. Tobin: Dems Realizing Hillary's Record Matters
As far back as early 2006, it was not only clear that Democrats would win back Congress that year, at least the House of Representativeswith, perhaps, a 50-50 split in the Senate, but that then Senator Hillary Clinton would not only win the Democratic nomination for president in 2008 but probably win the general election as well unless the Republican Party was smart enough to nominate Rudy Guliani, Senator John McCain, or someone else on the Right but who could win Independents and also beat Senator Clinton in the swing states.
Well Democrats did win back Congress in 2006, both the House and Senate, and Senator Clinton served in the majority party in the 110th Congress of 2007-08. But last time I checked, she's not the President of the United States, wasn't on the ballot at all in 2012 and served as Secretary of State in the first Obama Administration. Why is that? Well, she lost to then freshmen Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president. Before his great keynote address for Senator John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, most Americans had never heard of him.
As late as late 2007, then Senator Obama didn't seem to have much of a shot at winning the Democratic nomination for president. It was his great speech at the Thomas Jefferson dinner in Iowa in December of 07 that made him a major player and perhaps carried the Iowa Caucus for him that year. He was able to inspire people to get behind a cause for the society as a whole. This was his theme for president in 2007-08.
I'm not sure if the Clinton presidential campaign was expecting a cakewalk to the Democratic nomination for president but they weren't expecting a major challenger either. Quite frankly, most of the Democratic Party, including me, as well as most of the national media weren't expecting a strong challenge to Hillary for the Democratic nomination. At the time, the possibility of being the first female President of the United States, the Democrat who was the most electable, and what people saw as a strong resume seemed to be enough for Hillary Clinton to be President.
I have a prediction for 2015-16. If the Hillary campaign believes the same strategy for winning the nomination and the presidency will work in 2016 even though it failed in 2008, they'll lose and, perhaps, lose big. Not the presidency itself, because, as Newt Gingrich has acknowledged, there isn't a Republican standing who can beat her right now, almost regardless of the campaign she runs, if she avoids major mistakes and nothing emerges from her record that could seriously damage her. Her lack of a presidential vision and theme provides the opening that Brian Schweitzer, Martin O'Malley or Andrew Cuomo could exploit to defeat her for the Democratic nomination. Any of those three would have that vision and theme to use against her.
I understand all the yearnings to have the first female President of the United States. If the best candidate for president is a woman or Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, I'll vote for her. But running for the presidency of the U.S. is applying for the most important job in the world. To win that job you not only have to beat out all of the other applicants but you also have to show the country why you are the best applicant and what you intend to do after you are hired. Hillary hasn't done that yet. She's still playing it safe as if it were 2007-08 all over again.