WASHINGTON, May 13, 2014 — Hillary Clinton has been out of public office for just over a year. She holds no position of trust or authority, yet she dominates the news. Every time she opens her mouth, her media sycophants gush about her brilliance, while her critics look for signs of decay.
Despite the breathless coverage, the adoring fans, and the perpetual spotlight, Clinton has yet to answer one simple question.
Are you running for president?
Why the delay? She has had plenty of chances to announce; she is constantly making keynote speeches and appearing on television, so why hasn’t she made a commitment to run yet?
Without agreeing with anything Hillary Clinton has to say, it is clear that the former senator and former secretary of state is an intelligent and savvy political animal. President Obama may be one of the best politicians to ever make it to the American political stage — charming, a gifted speaker, a master of the political game who in many ways has redefined it — but Clinton operates at another level entirely.
Clinton, as smart as she is, is a less cerebral political player than Obama. She’s a ruthless political animal of matchless instinct, a great white shark in the political sea, but with a brain. She reads the political wind like a seasoned tracker, she charges and retreats with flawless timing, and she knows her audience. She is relentless, ambitious, and intelligent. She is no one to mess with.
Anyone who runs against her must take care; she uses opponents’ weaknesses and strengths against them, always looking for the kill. She knows how to manipulate the system and play the game. And it is all a game to her, her husband, and their inner circle. The point isn’t policy; the point is to win.
In the torrid, tumultuous swamp of American politics, Clinton is one of the ablest players — an apex predator perfectly evolved to operate in a corrupt, amoral political environment.
If she is waiting to announce, she has her reasons.
With the recent formation of the Special Committee on Benghazi, Clinton may be waiting out the initial wave of negative attention that will roll her way. She was secretary of state when four Americans, including the ambassador, were killed in Libya. She and Obama bear the ultimate responsibility for the mistakes that lead to their deaths. Even though she can weather almost any storm that the committee can throw at her, she will want to test the wind. It would be unwise to launch a campaign in the middle of a news cycle dominated by events related to tragic situation in which she is directly implicated.
The Democratic bench is thin. Governors O’Malley, Hickenlooper, and Cuomo lack Clinton’s financial support, political machine, and name recognition, despite progressive legislative initiatives in their respective states. Joe Biden is the Democrats’ crazy uncle in the attic; they say nice things about him, and pray that he won’t start braying when company is around. He should retire to Delaware to sit in front of his door and scream at neighborhood kids when he leaves office.
So, as the English king asked when looking to deal with a rebellious William Wallace, “Whom do we send?”
You send Hillary. She is the clear choice. She is dominant with female voters, even doing well with more conservative women. Her name recognition is unmatched, and she is hugely popular with liberals. There is sentiment that it is time for a woman in the White House, and many people care nothing about her qualifications, just her gender. Others want to see Bill Clinton back in the White House, hoping for a return to the Clintons’ golden age.
There’s no hurry to announce. If she announced today, conservatives would have months to attack her and attempt to discredit everything about her. Her personal life, already under a microscope, lurks in the background as a potential issue; if she announced, it would immediately move to the foreground as a real one. Benghazi, the rise of al-Qaeda, her failure to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist group, and every vote she made while a senator would be pushed onto the Sunday news shows, and potential Democratic rivals could finally start to move, knowing her position on the board.
Clinton has been outspoken on gun rights, taxes, right to life, big government, and immigration. These are issues which conservatives would gladly address during her campaign.
As the dominant potential Democratic candidate in 2016, Clinton’s campaign is already underway. Why act now, when the media speculation produces wide, fascinated coverage for free? She continues to go around the country as a private speaker, making a small fortune in appearance fees, being paid for the attention rather than paying for it. She can campaign and receive campaign support without actually creating and registering a campaign.
Clinton has every aspect of this planned out. She knows who her campaign manager is, where the money is coming from, and which PAC’s to hit up. The board is set up, her pieces are in place. Potential opponents are frozen, unable to get much attention, raise much money, or start their own campaigns until everyone knows what Hillary will do. She can awe-shucks her way around the country as a mom and private citizen, but the machine is fine-tuned and ready to go.
The GOP, like Democratic opponents, is frozen. They wait with their finger on the GO button ready to launch their attacks at a moments notice, but they need a candidate to attack, not a mom out giving commencement speeches. The GOP won’t attack Hillary if she only might run; they would look like bullies.
Hillary Clinton will run for president, and she will announce it when the time is right. She will create maximum uncertainty, then move quickly.
The question for the GOP is not “will Hillary Clinton run,” but “who in the Republican Party can beat her?”
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