Is Hillary’s run for the Democratic nomination and more importantly, her becoming the first woman President of the United States, inevitable? Putting aside the talk of "coronation", there are extensive mitigating factors that come into play. These factors are: 1) Hillary Clinton, her family, her campaign; 2) the Republican candidate, the Republican House and Senate, the local (State) Republicans; 3) the President Obama/Valerie Jarrett connection; and 4) the voting populace.
1) Pretty much everyone is in agreement that Hillary is no Bill, in likability or in political smarts. She's a survivor, but a survivor in the style of Richard Nixon. She learned through her private sector and government experience, most recently her tenure as Secretary of State, not to leave either a paper or email trail. With her recent email server and family foundation travails, not to mention "we left the White House broke" and the disastrous book tour, her poll numbers have dipped, as the questions mount as to whether she can she be trusted, as well as the specter of reliving more of the same 90's-style scandals if the Clintons win the White House yet again.
To counter this, Hillary is in chapter umpteen of reinventing herself, as her campaign rolls out, not in the venue of a stadium spectacular, but rather the smaller meet and greets. Let's counter the cold, conniving shrew image with a warmer, "well she's almost one of us," image. She's tweeting to show the millennial generation voters that she's hip, although that runs counter to her not knowing that two email accounts can be accessed on one mobile phone. But can Hillary pull off the image makeover? Looking at her body language during her presser at the UN, when she rarely looked at the camera or the audience, she'll need a complicit media (a given) and a dumbed-down voting public.
Next, we have Mrs. Clinton's family. It's not a coincidence that Chelsea's on the cover of Elle magazine. Her job will be to deliver the younger, working moms and dads with families vote, along with the just out of college, can't get a job, still living with the parents groups. Chelsea, however, also has her share of obstacles to overcome. Her six-figure stint at NBC as a contributing reporter was met with derision, along with her comments that "I don't care much about money", while living in a multi-million dollar New York home. We'll see how believable she’ll be with her demographic when the campaign gets rolling.
Then we have Bill, the big Kahuna, whose vacations with Jeffrey Epstein, pedophile extraordinaire, left Hillary apoplectic. The family’s foundation continues to rake in the cash, with contributions recently revealed from countries with less than salubrious reputations regarding their female populations. However, Bill's donor and political network remains unrivaled. He'll be campaign bagman and chairman emeritus. Don't count Bubba out on the campaign trail either.
Finally, the campaign itself. Under the guidance of campaign manager, Robby Mook, who recently distributed the campaign's "values" statement, we're meeting a new team Hillary which combines the Podesta/Blumenthal types with the Benenson/Margolis types. Now that Hillary's in, Hillary is out to win. As the inner-sanctum group revs up the solid "super volunteers" who gave us "13 words you can't use to describe Hillary", get ready for the mother of all gender campaigns. Hillary will talk about issues. However, they'll be the issues that the campaign staff has carefully vetted lest candidate Hillary be tripped up. No one need fear a flying lamp if they can help it.
2) The Republicans. At this writing, we have Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul, (R-KY), and the Monday announcement by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the ring. Exploratory committees have been formed by former governors, Jeb Bush (Florida), Mike Huckabee (Arkansas), Rick Perry (Texas) and sitting governor Scott Walker (Wisconsin). We also have former neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump (no descriptives necessary) and potentially waiting in the wings, Gov. Bobby Jindal (Louisiana), maybe Gov. Chris Christie (New Jersey), and John Kasich (Ohio).
The biggest challenge for any of these Republican candidates going forward is not to destroy each other prior to the Republican convention. In 2012, the Republicans did the Democrats' work for them.
The House and Senate Republicans are also playing a role in this election indirectly. With the sweeping 2014 midterm victories, it is still amazing to most how the Democrats and president seem to maintain hold of the power in the Senate and House. The recent turn of events over the Corker-Menendez bill regarding Iran and the disastrous funding debacle in the House of the DHS Bill reveal anemic strategy and leadership among the Republican leadership. Further down the food chain in the states with Republican governors and legislatures, the onus to deliver their respective states in both the popular and Electoral College vote will be on them, but as former House Speaker "Tip" O'Neill once said, "All politics is local." Nothing is assured.
3) President Obama and Senior Advisor/BFF Valerie Jarrett. Obama has a yin-yang problem. From his early "likable enough" to describe then opponent Hillary Clinton, his playing the "race card" against Bill which cemented his nomination in '08, to his Machiavellian strategy of keeping his enemies closer by bringing her into his cabinet, there is no doubt that our favorite community organizer in chief doesn't like and doesn't trust either of the Clintons.
Yet, some say he needs Hillary to win to sustain his legacy. If true, how much will the noted thin-skinned president be able to stomach as Hillary begins to distance herself from his policies, or rewrite them in her own image to win the presidency. Enter Valerie Jarrett, who reportedly leaked the email scandal as revenge for the Clintons' role in 2014 distancing Obama from the Democrats, and their ultimately blaming him for the devastating mid-term losses. Word behind closed doors is that Ms. Jarrett has much, much more to keep the Clintons in line.
4) The voting populace. Mrs. Clinton will be walking a tightrope throughout the campaign, while the Republicans will be dealing with more of the unknown than in 2012. The voting population is changing, which is something the Democrats seem to understand better than their Republican counterparts. We have a different educational system today than we had even 30 years ago, which is turning out a new population of dumbed-down, myopic voters. Kardashian vs. John Adams name recognition has people responding affirmative to the former name, and "isn't that the name of a beer" to the latter. If Barack Obama was a candidate back in the 1950's/60's, or even 70's/80's, he never would have made it to the nomination, let alone the presidency.
Campaign Hillary recognizes that they need the low-information crowd, the malcontents and victims who are easily swayed with the income inequality/class-warfare and gender memes, to chart their path to victory. Couple those groups with the Emily's List-types and some of the starry-eyed, Boomer/Gen-X/Millennial women who want a woman president simply because "it's time", puts the Republicans and their candidate at the same risk as Romney in 2012.
So, is President Hillary Clinton a fait accompli? To prevent that from happening, Republicans and their candidate will have to do three things:1) create scenarios to remind people that the last six years of the so-called economic recovery under the Obama Administration and potential Clinton is not the new normal and the economy will be better under their tutelage; 2) make the average Joe and Jane care about and understand national security -- how events thousands of miles away and the people controlling them matter to their daily lives; and 3) control the discussion. Do not let the campaign Hillary or the media define the candidate or the national discussion. Discuss social issues, but put them in perspective of the larger issues roiling this country, the economy and foreign policy. Stay on message, stay on point, and punch back.
If the Republican Party can successfully do this, and control the gender and social issues story, they have a shot at beating Hillary in 2016. If not, Sen. Tom Cotton will have his hands full in 2020.