It was unthinkable until now that Hillary Clinton would not
be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016. It had been
unthinkable in 2007 that she would not win in 2008, but the
unthinkable did happen. This, of course, made the unthinkable
even more unthinkable in 2015. Surely, any observer could
reasonably conclude, she would not make the same mistakes
As I write this, Mrs. Clinton dominates the polling for her party’s
nomination by a very wide margin. She defeats any visible
Republican opponent in almost every poll (although her margins
have been slipping noticeably in recent days.) She has been until
just now the frontrunner’s idea of a frontrunner, and no one
since Dwight Eisenhower has seemed more inevitable for a party
nomination in a race for president with no incumbent running.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy is now in some trouble.
The furor over her use of a private e-mail while she was U.S.
secretary of state will almost certainly pass, but it certainly
should have passed sooner. While prima facie improper, it is not
in itself (with the information we now have) disqualifying.
It might be important to note that Mrs. Clinton’s problem is not
about making new political mistakes. Her biggest problems seem
to be about what she cannot now control or explain away, that is,
actions in her long record as a public figure. While it seemed to be
a clever strategy for her (and her husband, the former president) to
design in 2008-09, that is, to accept the position of secretary of
state in the Obama administration, her performance in that office,
and under that president, seems to have reopened and magnified
political weaknesses from her past, including her record of
judgment, her propensity for secrecy, her dependence on others
to cover up her mistakes, and the untransparent institution and
controversies of the giant Clinton Foundation which she now
heads with her husband.
It is possible, of course, that Hillary Clinton can still be the
Democratic nominee for president; and even possible that
Republicans will make such a mess of their current opportunity
so that she wins the presidency next November. There is no
incontrovertible evidence in the polls that she cannot still win.
But it is becoming clear that her Republican opponents will have
much from Mrs. Clinton’s past and present to bring up to the
voters, and should the unthinkable happen, i.e., a bitter
nomination contest in which case there would be much her
potential opponents from her own party could use against her,
With former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley now moving
toward a Democratic nomination contest; Massachusetts
Senator Elizabeth Warren already quite popular in the party’s
grass roots base; Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders also making
noises to her left; former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, a
populist, waiting in the wings; a very possibly formidable
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also in the wings; and Vice
President Joe Biden desperate for a good reason to stay in the
race; the chemistry of the 2016 race for the Democratic
nomination could become a genuine contest in a short period of
I point out to the reader how quickly Wisconsin Governor Scott
Walker has emerged as a first tier candidate in the GOP contest;
how quickly New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has (at least
temporarily) faded in the polls. (I might add, how quickly he could
re-emerge once the debates begin.) With almost a year until the
primaries and caucuses, the Republican contest is clearly
unsettled. In the face of Mrs. Clinton’s weak performance so far,
the general lack of true enthusiasm for her nomination, and now
the recurring controversies, it might be very soon that the
Democratic contest could be also considered unsettled.
Until now, it was unthinkable to say that Hilary Clinton’s
nomination was not “a done deal.” There might still be a deal
done on her behalf, she might yet still be president, but I think
there are some very smart Democratic leaders and strategists
now suddenly at least thinking about the unthinkable.
Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.