We’re all very excited about the Boston Tea Party 2.0. And we should be. But not long after the results were announced I realized that there was someone else who was–if anything–even more enthusiastic about the Brown win than any of us. Who might that person be?
Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Back in July I wrote a piece called Revenge of the Hillary where I laid out my case that Clinton would not only fight Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2012, but she would win. (Jeff wrote <a href=”http://americasright.com/?p=1236″>about the same topic</a> in October.)
My case rested on 3 facts:
- Obama and the Clintons hate each other.
- Obama’s popularity is declining
- Hillary Clinton isn’t getting any younger or any less ambitious
When I wrote the piece I included this graph from Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll showing that Obama’s net “strongly approve” had sunk to -7. At that time it was news for Obama to have a negative rating at all. What was novel at the time is common place: he has never made it back into the positives since then, and his rating is -16 today.
The reason Obama’s polls are important is because they are a pretty good surrogate for a measure of his political capital. And the Brown victory – coming on the heels of GOP victories in New Jersey and Virginia – shows that Obama’s popularity and political capital are sinking faster than Ben Bernanke or Tim Geithner can say “too big to fail”.
Challenging a sitting president is a *huge* deal, and only extraordinary circumstances would anyone consider it. What just happened in Massachusetts? That’s extraordinary circumstances right there.
In 2012 the liberals will hate Obama because he got squat done when he had all the power. The moderates will hate Obama because he led their party over a cliff. And also because he got squat done. They will all be looking for a new leader, and they will all understand that the only chance for the Dems in 2012 is a repudiation of Obama.
There will be some Obama loyalists hanging on just like Hillary has loyalists to this day. They weren’t enough for her in 2008, and they won’t be enough for him in 2012. The fact that she’s a woman will also help to insulate her from the inevitable race-card.
The final thing to keep in mind is the debt clock and the insurgent Tea Party movement. MA proved that the small-government crowd can make inroads with the independents and moderate democrats. So in addition to being completely fed up with Obama the party is going to be looking for someone with some pragmatic credibility who will be able to appeal to those voters and hold off the Tea Party movement or even co-opt some of it.
Hillary–running shamelessly on Bill’s legacy–will be the answer to their prayers. Never mind that she had nothing to do with Bill’s moderation after 1994. Neither did Bill. They have that reputation and they will cash in.
You might think that she has poisoned herself by becoming part of his administration, but that’s not going to be an issue thanks in no small part to Obama’s efforts to keep her shut out from any important work. We’ve never had a Secretary of State as inconsequential as Hillary Clinton, and it’s obvious the reason is because Obama doesn’t trust her as far as he can spit.
In the end, this is a blessing for Hillary. She has had no substantive influence on policy and has never been trusted with anything important or high-visibility. Combine that with the legendary bitterness and rivalry and the result is that no one thinks for one minute that Clinton is actually a member of Team Obama.
If anything, her position is a huge opportunity. Her line will be something like this: “I thought he was too idealistic and inexperienced in 2008, but when he won I wanted to give him the greatest opportunity. I wanted him to succeed. Unfortunately my initial impressions were right. So, reluctantly, I have to stand against him for the sake of the nation and carry on the same campaign I was carrying on in 2008.”
It’s a great narrative for her. She’s insulated from any charges that she tried to undercut his administration (she was in it!) and she can claim privileged information on what was wrong. She’s in a great position.
I’m actually very worried that she will win in 2012.
I can’t predict how public the fight will be between Hillary and Obama in 2012. She’s not going to announce early because it benefits her nothing, and she’s going to try and make sure that by the time it goes public it’s a done deal. The worse the Democrats do in 2010 the more support she is going to have among party insiders to force him out. They aren’t loyal to other people or principles. They are loyal to their own interests, and they will turn on Obama if they think it can save them. If Hillary’s completely successful it will all be over but the crying before the media hears a thing about it, but more likely there will be rumblings as we get closer and Team Obama starts to really panic.
It goes without saying that none of us should be happy about this. As angry as Obama has made all of us we can’t afford to suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome. He doesn’t matter. The country matters. And in the long run Hillary could easily be more dangerous to this country than Obama.
In the short run she will make pragmatic decisions to get us back on track, but small victories could take the wind out of the Tea Party movement’s sails. The burgeoning small-government mentality that is sweeping the nation could be reduced to a minority viewpoint again. And we’d be on the same road we were on with Obama, just moving a little more slowly.
The temptation of power is eternal. We may yet survive this particular charismatic egomaniac, but there will be another one. If Hillary wins and the Tea Party movement falters the country will be even more statist and the population even less liberty-minded on that day then they were in November 2008.
In the end I don’t care if Obama or Clinton runs in 2012. They can both run for all I care, as long as neither one wins. What I care about is who runs against them. And – even more than that – who runs in all the legislative races in 2010 and 2012.
Now, as Obama falters, is not the time to take a breath or relax. It’s the time to drive the blade home and kill the dragon of statist government in our generation. Temporary survival is not enough. What I care about above all else is handing over to my children a republic that is in better condition than when I found it.