Hillary Clinton Will Not Implode!
My initial encounter with Hillary Clinton (then Rodham) happened over 45 years ago, when I was unwittingly subjected to what turned out to be the first speech of her long and contentious political career. I had returned to our mutual alma mater for my fifteenth college reunion and found myself seated in the audience of alumnae at her graduation.
Hill was pretty mousy back then. It was, after all, the cusp of the '70s, and she was likely hovering on the fringes of the hippie culture. Her hair looked untamed, and she peered out at us through large, owl-like glasses. Behind her on the stage sat the Wellesley Class of '69, by whom she had been chosen as the occasion's designated spokesperson.
The speaker invited to give the commencement address was then-United States senator from Massachusetts and Republican Edward Brooke, who passed away only a few months ago after surviving well into his nineties.
Once Brooke had delivered his address on that long-ago June day in New England, Hillary took to the podium in rebuttal, blasting him for what she perceived as his failed vision of life. The good senator, a decorated World War II hero and the first African-American to be popularly elected to the United States Senate, sat patiently through the exorcism. But many alums were aghast at the co-ed's outspoken rudeness. (Ironically, almost a half century later, Hillary received her comeuppance from another black politician.)
Even before she had her diploma in hand, Hillary was making her own rules and deceiving those who got in her way. Nobody was more surprised at the time by her inappropriate remarks than the college's sitting president, to whom Hillary had previously submitted for approval an entirely different speech from the one she delivered at graduation. The college administration was not amused, but Hillary had officially graduated by that point. She was beyond their academic discipline, and well on her way to fulfilling her destiny.
That long-ago incident taught me one thing: Hillary will not implode on her way to the nomination for president. She has not come this far to be denied a final crack at her unflagging lifelong ambition. Ultimately, she may lose the 2016 election, but she will not lose the chance to be the Democratic nominee.
So for those who think that some new scandal or misstep will knock Ms. Clinton out of the running, forget about it! Some Democrats may be secretly wringing their hands in worry as Hillary becomes a caricature of herself. But they can't – and won't – do a thing. The situation is such that if the plug were once again pulled on Hillary, the entire Democratic Party could well slip down the drain behind her. So when the political fireworks begin in earnest, her colleagues will have to either plead ignorance or spring to her defense.
For starters, there are no viable candidates waiting in the wings. Elizabeth Warren is a progressive without wide general appeal. Jim Webb is an enigmatic figure who's been out of politics awhile and does nothing for the Democrat base. John Kerry and Joe Biden are over-the-hill wannabes who would like to usurp Hillary as standard-bearer but have neither the backbone nor the backing.
Even if there were some credible alternative to Clinton, shoving her aside is out of the question for the DNC. One practical reason is that she and Bill have become too powerful. To cross them is a risky proposition, even considering the well-documented blood feud between the Clintons and the Obamas. Indeed, the Democrats dare not throw Hillary under the bus a second time. As Charles Krauthammer jokingly pointed out, it's already getting too crowded down there.
But the substantive explanations for not unceremoniously dumping Secretary Clinton are far more nuanced. After her humiliating defeat in the 2008 primaries at the hands of a relative newcomer, Hillary scored points by not (publicly, at least ) behaving like a sore loser. She had her own reasons for soldiering on, but that's beside the point. Throughout the entire first Obama administration, she was portrayed in the press as a tireless, popular secretary of state. And to those who bothered to observe, she seemed obviously to be working a lot harder than her nemesis boss.
Mrs. Clinton paid her party dues in order to continue her membership in the club from which presidential hopefuls are selected. She raised her public profile. She elevated her image. And then she raked in the money and hired a staff of die-hard supporters to run another campaign. This time, she knows her friends from her enemies. If she bothers to look back, it is only by way of a variation on Lot's wife: to harden her resolve.
If Hillary were not a woman, perhaps she would be more replaceable on the way to a Democrat coronation. But she has wisely taken full advantage of perhaps the one thing that makes her impervious to a party revolt. She has made "gender equality" the essence of her electability. Her mantra has become the question: "When is America going to elect a woman president?" Just as Obama succeeded in overcoming the racial barrier, Hillary is on a mission to thwart any perceived sexual obstacles to becoming the most powerful politician on Earth. And in response to all forms of criticism, she will not hesitate to resort to the gender card, just as Obama has played the race card.
Supporters of Elizabeth Warren may be betting wampum that she jumps through hoops and into the race. But it won't happen this time around. Cruising in his government plane high above our endangered planet, John Kerry's mind may stray to greater heights of political glory. But he won't enjoy a second shot at the White House in 2016. Not unless Hillary gets incapacitated or dies. The Clintons have, in fact, discussed together what she might do if such a fate more likely befalls her husband, who is looking these days like a frail shadow of his former Bubba self.
The Clintons do not live together, of course, but they are inextricably tied together politically, which for them is even stronger than a personal bond. They are mutually consumed by ambition, a modern-day version of Lord and Lady Macbeth. ("Infirm of purpose, give me the daggers!") Just as they did back in 1992, Hill and Bill profess to offer the American electorate a "two-for-one deal." His morality is still questionable, but his manipulative shrewdness and general popularity are greater than hers. She has come to depend on his professional – if not personal – judgment. And the law against third-term presidencies aside, she is his ticket back to the power of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Would Hillary continue the fight if Bill gave up the ghost? I don't doubt it for a moment. She's come a long way, baby, in shouldering the mantle of entitlement. And, presumably, 2016 will be her last hurrah.