Published on TheHill.com on December 16, 2014
It’s back to the future. The very same elements that toppled Hillary Clinton’s “inevitable” nomination in 2008 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 Clinton is that she’s a woman, thanks a desire to see a female president. Her experience follows in the list of positive attributes. So Clinton is especially vulnerable to a female opponent.
Particularly to a woman candidate named Elizabeth Warren.
The contrast between Warren, whose career achievements are indisputably her own, and Clinton, whose advancement has been derivative of her husband’s, is stark. The former first lady’s finely tuned machine looks antiseptic and stale compared against the contagious enthusiasm of the legions of grassroots activists energized by the Massachusetts senator — just as they were by Barack Obama. As former ambassador to France Gouverneur Morris said, the French “prefer lightning to light.” So do Democrats.
Warren’s signature issue — fighting the corruption of Wall Street elites and big banks — contrasts perfectly with the Clintons’s post-government careers, raking in millions from Wall Street.
Bill Clinton’s approval of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which set in motion the shenanigans that led to the 2008 financial crash, and his role in blocking regulation of derivatives will both loom as major issues in a Hillary Clinton vs. Elizabeth Warren contest.
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 continuing resolution 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 by the time we hit 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 in the race, Clinton is stuck with experience as her major credential. She failed on healthcare as first lady. 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, of course, is Benghazi. Her successes? Name them.
As war in Iraq 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 funding battle she just waged.
Further bad news for Clinton 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, the way Obama did in 2008. Clinton will rely on her Rolodex filled with banks and corporate cronies, putting her exactly in the cross hairs of Warren’s attacks on Wall Street.
As George Santayana said, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Clinton obviously doesn’t remember, and there she goes again — repeating the same errors of 2008.
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