The Edmond Sun

Opinion

September 25, 2013

If she wants to win in 2016, Hillary Clinton needs to disappear

Hillary Clinton, in her first interview after leaving the State Department, offered a wise metaphor about the current state of presidential election madness. "This election is more than three years away, and I just don't think it's good for the country," she told New York magazine, referring to the fevered speculation about her possible candidacy. "It's like when you meet somebody at a party and they look over your shoulder to see who else is there, and you want to talk to them about something that's really important; in fact, maybe you came to the party to talk to that particular person, and they just want to know what's next," she says. "I feel like that's our political process right now. I just don't think it is good."

Clinton knows what it's like to be on both ends of that exchange. She was a political spouse; the shortsighted looked over her shoulder for many years, seeing her as merely an adjunct to her accomplished husband. Now, she is the person who draws every eye in the room -- away from even her husband. (When someone says "Clinton", it may not be long before a majority of people think of the former secretary of state and not the former president).

Most presidential candidates strain for attention. They rush to Iowa, write books, or take extreme positions on controversial issues. Clinton has to do the opposite, trying to flee from the circus ready to chase her down the grocery store aisle. But she's in a bind. If she makes too much news this far ahead of the 2016 presidential election, there's a chance people will tire of her candidacy. (Update, Sept. 24: Joan Walsh of Salon says she's feeling Clinton fatigue already.) If she steps back, though, the unstoppable flow of Clinton stories will come anyway (especially the highly unflattering ones that feature people loosely associated with Clinton world, like the New Republic profile of Doug Band, who once oversaw the Clinton Global Initiative). Not all of these people leave a good impression.

Clinton is perhaps the first presidential candidate of the modern age who needs a Rip Van Winkle strategy — a disappearing act that removes her from the witless swirl of speculation and gossip that preserves her presidential options. But what is this strategy? Does she go on a kibbutz for a year? What about a prayer retreat? She is a woman of skill. Surely, she can find some way to escape from the clatter or at least turn it into a force for good. (Perhaps she should launch a website on mindless Clinton speculation and donate the ad revenue from the site to one of the worthy causes she's been promoting most of her adult life).

It's frankly hard to imagine a place she could retreat (without the aid of rocket propulsion) that would quiet the appetite of editors, gossips, and TV producers. Retreating would give voters a pause and Clinton a chance to live a normal life, but there's also a governing benefit: We get sick of our presidents pretty quickly in the age of the hyper news cycle. Who pays attention to an Obama speech these days? With candidates starting to position themselves for the presidency earlier and earlier, it's almost certain that we'll be sick of the next president by the time he or she is in office. If Hillary Clinton is that president, it will be particularly acute in her case.

Though Clinton worries about the country looking over the president's shoulder at the next candidate, she isn't exactly keeping her arms at her sides. The New York piece is full of little waves to the admirers, including an admission of the obvious: She's thinking about running for president. The former secretary of state explains how normal her life is now. She's just flopping about the house, laughing at the dogs. As America's jet-set chief diplomat, she only had time to speak to her husband by phone; now she's watching stupid movies with him.

The piece has the feel of a reset, both natural and strategic: Of course she's the competent woman in that C-17 photograph, but she's also normal, real, and grounded. (At the start of the 2008 presidential race, the Clinton team tried to convey a similar feeling with a video to voters where she sat on what looked like a living room couch. If they're going that route again, maybe this time she could appear in the garden with some mulch or a Pinterest account of DIY house projects.)

If you're into tea leaf reading, when you look into the bottom of the New York story, it spells out: Hillary 2016. Clinton positions herself as a secretary of state who was in the thick of it but independent enough to disagree with the president. "I've had a unique, close, and personal front-row seat. And I think these last four years have certainly deepened and broadened my understanding of the challenges and opportunities that we face in the world today." Most impressive is the way the others quoted in the story fall into perfect formation, shooting down each of her perceived vulnerabilities, one by one. They testify to her management skill at the State Department — the chaos of the 2008 campaign is gone. They testify that Bill Clinton is a figure in the distance — no meddling from the Big Dog. It's a masterful rendition of the form. It's the kind of story we once expected to read a year before a presidential race, not three years before. Now she just has to figure out how to manage those two long years in between.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Bangladesh’s sweatshops — a boycott is not the answer

    One year ago this week, the eight-story Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh’s capital city of Dhaka, killing 1,129 people. The building’s top floors had been added illegally, and their weight caused the lower stories to buckle. Many of the victims were young women who had been sewing low-priced clothes for Western brands, earning a minimum wage of about $9 a week. It was the worst disaster in garment industry history.

    April 24, 2014

  • Loosening constraints on campaign donations and spending doesn’t destroy democracy

    Campaign finance reformers are worried about the future. They contend that two Supreme Court rulings — the McCutcheon decision in March and the 2010 Citizens United decision — will magnify inequality in U.S. politics.
    In both cases, the court majority relaxed constraints on how money can be spent on or donated to political campaigns. By allowing more private money to flow to campaigns, the critics maintain, the court has allowed the rich an unfair advantage in shaping political outcomes and made “one dollar, one vote” (in one formulation) the measure of our corrupted democracy.
    This argument misses the mark for at least four reasons.

    April 23, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 23, 2014

  • Free trade on steroids: The threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week. If Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues for agriculture and automobiles, the wisdom goes, this huge deal — in effect, a North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids — can at last be concluded.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Chicago Tribune: If Walgreen Co. moves its HQ to Europe, blame Washington’s tax failure

    The Walgreen Co. drugstore chain got its start nearly a century ago in downstate Dixon, Ill., before moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago and eventually to north suburban Deerfield, Ill.
    Next stop? Could be Bern, Switzerland.
    A group of shareholders reportedly is pressuring the giant retail chain for a move to the land of cuckoo clocks. The reason: lower taxes. Much lower taxes.
    If Walgreen changes its legal domicile to Switzerland, where it recently acquired a stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots, the company could save big bucks on its corporate income-tax bill. The effective U.S. income-tax rate for Walgreen, according to analysts at Swiss Bank UBS: 37 percent. For Alliance Boots: about 20 percent.

    April 21, 2014

  • Sulphur a future major tourist destination?

    Greta Garbo says, “I want to be alone,” in the 1932 film “Grand Hotel.” That MGM film starred Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and a young actress from Lawton named Joan Crawford. It told the stories of several different people who were staying at an exclusive hotel of that name in Berlin Germany.
    It was critically well received and it inspired more recent films such as “Gosford Park” and television shows such as “Downton Abbey” in that it detailed the relationship between powerful and wealthy people and those who served them. The film opened amidst much fanfare and it received the Oscar for best picture in the year of its release.

    April 21, 2014

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results