Not since Franklin Pierce lost the Democratic party nomination in 1856 has an elected incumbent president lost the chance to run for re-election, but make no mistake: Hillary Clinton has her eye on making this little bit of historical trivia repeat itself. I realize this is an unusual claim, but the facts speak for themselves.
Fact #1 : The Clintons and Obamas hate each other.
They hated each other in the primaries, and they hated each other afterwards. Obama’s nomination of Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State was merely a ploy to silence his most dangerous critic. He knew that he would be vulnerable after his election because he has promised everything to everyone. He ran as the anti-war candidate, but also as the foreign policy realist. He opposes gay marriage and is the darling of the homosexual community. He promises fiscal responsibility and expensive economic stimulus.
This is why Biden – playing the role of prophet – predicted that:
It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.
He then went on:
And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you – not financially to help him – we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.
Team Obama was well aware of this danger, and that is why he appointed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. It seemed like a conciliatory gesture, the kind of thing you do to bury the hatchet. But the only thing only thing Obama planned on burying was Hillary.
As Dick Morris pointed out at The Hill: By bringing them [Hillary and Bill] into his inner circle, he has marginalized them both and sharply reduced their freedom of action. Morris goes on to describe that although Hillary retains the prestiguous office of Secretary of State most of her responsibitilies have been divvied up and given to Obama loyalists:
Former Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine) is in charge of Arab-Israeli relations. Dennis Ross has Iran. Former U.N. Ambassador Dick Holbrooke has Pakistan and Afghanistan. And Hillary has to share her foreign policy role on the National Security Council (NSC) with Vice President Biden, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, CIA chief Leon Panetta, and NSC staffer Samantha Powers (who once called Hillary a “monster”).
He then concludes:
Once Obama’s equal — and before that his superior — she now looks tiny compared to the president. She doesn’t look like a president in waiting; she’s more like a senior staff member hoping to rise in the bureaucracy. No longer at the head of a movement or the symbol of rising women all over the world, she has faded into the State Department woodwork.
All of this must be infuriating for Bill and especially Hillary. So infuriating that it led Hillary to engage in outright revolt against her boss. She allowed leaks such as this one to the Washington Times:
Behind the scenes, the officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were discussing internal deliberations, said Mrs. Clinton had been advocating the stronger U.S. response, but the president resisted. When he finally took her advice, the aides said, he did so without informing her first.
Is there any doubt whether these “officials” were doing Hillary’s bidding? Clearly she maintains her own cadre of dedicated supporters. What’s even more telling, however, is that the leak was a continuation of her anti-Obama campaign rhetoric: Obama is naive and weak on foreign policy.
It’s like the primary war never even ended.
President Obama, for his part, has not taken this rebellious attitude lightly. In a major repudiation of Hillary’s status, Obama decided she should not accompany him on his most recent trip to Russia. As Hot Air reports, this move from Obama brought a sharp response from Hillary’s #1 proxy: Bill.
Former President Bill Clinton agreed to headline a fundraiser for Carolyn Maloney’s primary challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand — after Obama endorsed her in the special election.
The Hot Air headline is right: the Clinton-Obama feud is growing.
Face #2: Obama’s popularity is in jeopardy
The House passed Obama’s cap-and-tax bill. Barely. The future in the Senate is unlikely. The health care reform bill continues to miss deadlines, and may or may not even come up for a vote before the summer recess. Analysts agree that the Obama stimulus is largely a failure, and opposition from Americans and the GOP to a third stimulus is stiffening.
Most importantly of all: Obama’s poll numbers are slipping. As I argued previously, the polls substantially overstate his popularity and the facade is in danger of cracking.
Fact #3: Hillary Clinton isn’t getting any younger, or any less ambitious
Hillary’s 2008 primary campaign was supposed to be the campaign of inevitability. Her sense of entitlement was palpable. Losing in 2008 has not crushed that ambition, and Hillary wants to be president now just as much as she did in 2008.
This MyWay news article outlines the strategy that Hillary’s ambition is taking:
Eclipsed by a globe-trotting president, a foreign policy-savvy vice president and a bevy of special envoys, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is struggling to re-emerge this week as the Obama administration’s diplomatic heavyweight.
Clinton is trying to retake center stage as the administration’s top foreign policy voice after four frustrating, low-profile weeks during which a fractured elbow forced her to cancel two overseas trips. Her diminishing presence abroad and at home, followed by her startling public criticism of the White House this week for delaying a key appointment, has prompted a flurry of speculation about whether her influence is waning inside President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.
Make no mistake: these moves have nothing to do with “her influence… inside President Barack Obama’s Cabinet”. This is the opening salvo in Clinton’s 2012 primary attack on Obama.
Hillary has not fully committed to the strategy of attempting to depose Obama in 2012. Whether or not she launches her challenge will depend on the extent to which his domestic policies fail. The template is already laid out, however.
Hillary will attack Obama from the right. She is laying the groundwork for the attack now, and she will campaign as the reincarnation of Bill: peace, prosperity, and centrism. It’s what Obama promised, but had no intention of delivering. Hillary has far more credibility than Obama ever did as a pragmatic centrist, and once the fairy tale of Obama’s presidency fades she will bet her future on that credibility.
Obama is not yet vulnerable enough for this attack, but if his polls continue to plummet for the next 4 years, he will be. More importantly: the economy will not have recovered by 2012, and Hillary will be able to campaign on the promise of a new approach to curing America’s economic malaise. In this way she will be able to minimize the direct assault on Obama – and the subsequet Democratic infighting – and emphasize her position as the third way candidate.
I’m calling it now: 2012 will be a Romney vs. Clinton battle.