Peter Beinart / The Atlantic OnlineClintonphobia: Why No Democrat Wants to Run Against Hillary — Strong frontrunners have drawn challengers before. But given the Clintons’ reputation for retaliating for betrayals, it’s just not worth it in 2016. — The mystery of the 2016 Democratic presidential race isn’t why Hillary Clinton seems likely to run….
I had been thinking abut this over the last couple of weeks, and, evidently, I am not alone. I am worried. This column does NOT head in the slightly paranoid direction of the “Clintonphobia” column, so, please, no value judgments on your opinion of Hillary. That’s what 2015 is for, after all.
No: factoring her OUT of the equation, let’s look at some recent history, shall we?
Maine Senator Ed Muskie circa 1972
You see, I remember Ed Muskie in 1972, or, actually, late 1971.
Muskie was, at that time, the overwhelming favorite to capture the nomination and take on Tricky Dick Nixon in a rematch of 1968. But Muskie was out almost before New Hampshire. What happened? Wikipedia:
The collapse of Muskie’s momentum early in the 1972 campaign is also attributed to his response to campaign attacks. Prior to the New Hampshire primary, the so-called “Canuck letter” was published in the Manchester Union-Leader. The letter claimed that Muskie had made disparaging remarks about French-Canadians – a remark likely to injure Muskie’s support among the French-American population in northern New England.
Subsequently, the paper published an attack on the character of Muskie’s wife Jane, reporting that she drank and used off-colorlanguage during the campaign. Muskie made an emotional defense of his wife in a speech outside the newspaper’s offices during a snowstorm. Though Muskie later stated that what had appeared to the press as tears were actually melted snowflakes, the press reported that Muskie broke down and cried, shattering the candidate’s image as calm and reasoned.
Evidence later came to light during the Watergate scandal investigation that, during the 1972 presidential campaign, the Nixon campaign committee maintained a “dirty tricks” unit focused on discrediting Nixon’s strongest challengers. Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) investigators revealed that the Canuck Letter was a forged document as part of the dirty-tricks campaign against Democrats orchestrated by the Nixon campaign.
Recall that Roger Ailes (Faux Nooz’s™
manager and chief executive editor) was
Nixon’s media consultant for the 68 campaign.
Well, kiddies, compare Nixon’s little after-school operation for date-expired juvenile delinquents with the Faux Nooz/Talk Radio/Publishing trifecta of American Haters™ and you might understand WHY I’m worried.
You see, while the
Republican Confederate clown car is being loaded, the Democrats aren’t really readying any OTHER candidates to run.
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are floated as alternatives, but Warren isn’t likely to run (only a freshman Senator with zero prior non-academic experience).
And Bernie Sanders, no matter how much you might agree with him is a) not a Democrat (he is an independent and formerly a Socialist congressman from Vermont) and b) is, at best, another third party candidate, meaning that if he mounts a vigorous campaign, he probably splits the party and the generic
Republican Confederate wins.
No: there is a seeming consensus that the Democratic nominee MUST be a woman, and that’s a dangerous way to think. No: we need some other, SERIOUS candidates with a serious shot at winning to at least be considering a run.
I know this seems like a coronation, but, frankly, the Front Runner in the odd year prior to any presidential electiion — unless it’s the incumbent — is generally cursed to lose.
Ever play Parcheesi?
Whoever gets ahead early in the game will almost invariably have EVERYONE else gang up on them, and early leaders almost never win.
Right now, Hillary is leading in Parcheesi.
But consider history — again, seldom kind to front-runners — and think about Ed Muskie, who was ALSO supposed to win in a cake-walk. If Hillary were out around the time of the New Hampshire primary, which Muskie won, just as Hillary won in 2008 and, like Hillary, lost the nomination, what do we do without a strong field to take her place?
Punt to the GOPs?
No: this is too important to lose, and there is to0 much vicious and underhanded opposition.
I would not be averse to a Clinton nomination, but history tells me not to hope too much for it.
No: two plus years is an eternity in American politics, and anything can happen.
Mr. Misogyny Personified
And, if you consider the past history of presidential politics, there is a good chance that the eventual nominee will be someone with whom we are utterly unfamiliar.
After all, in 1992, Bill Clinton’s claim to fame was a dreadful, all-but-career-destroying “keynote” speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. In 1976 it was “Jimmy Who?”
But leaving Hillary Clinton as the ONLY practical choice for the Democratic Party strikes me as a recipe for disaster.
Just my 2¢ worth.
But possibly worth it.