Bored pundits are parsing Hillary Clinton's popularity again, in anticipation of 2016. Kevin Drum:
Hillary has another problem too: By 2016 she will have been in the public eye for 24 years. That's unprecedented. In the modern era, Richard Nixon holds the record for longest time in the public eye -- about 20 years -- before being elected president.... The sweet spot is a little less than a decade. Longer than that and people just get tired of you. They want a fresh face. That's largely what happened to Hillary in 2008, and it could happen again in 2016.How many presidents have we had "in the modern era"? How small a sample size is that? It reminds me of the absurd statistics that have made their way into pro sports in recent decades -- Jones has never homered against a lefthander on a 3-1 count in the late innings of a day game when the wind was blowing from the east. How often has that situation come up?
America is full of people who've been in politics for decades -- 28 of our 100 senators have been in the Senate at least 15 years, and a large percentage of all senators used to be in the House, or were governors. In the House, 120 members have been in office 15 years or more. In California, Jerry Brown got himself elected governor in 2010, 36 years after he first won that office. In Boston, Tom Menino just left the mayor's office after nearly 21 years, and he could have been mayor for life is his health hadn't faltered.
This stuff can get ridiculous. Matt Bai thinks Hlllary is going to have a hard time running because she was secretary of state:
Clinton is now a celebrated stateswoman, and it's not clear how you preserve that stature while still running a less conventional kind of campaign in the early primary states. (The last former secretary of state to run for president was Alexander Haig in 1988, and it's safe to say he isn't the model Clinton wakes up emulating.)Excuse me: Hillary Clinton is a rock star to a lot of people. Alexander Haig is a guy whose most prominent moment in the spotlight was declaring himself "in control" after the shooting of Ronald Reagan, and coming off, fairly or unfairly, like a tight-sphinctered lunatic who'd just stumbled out of the War Room in Dr. Strangelove.
But why would Hillary get a lot of support? Drum =quotes Andrew Sullivan asking that question:
What are her defining issues? Will she run on Obamacare -- ensuring its success? Will she run on climate change? Or protection of entitlements? How would her foreign policy differ from Obama's? Until we get a sense of where she is headed as far as policy is concerned, she runs the risk of appearing as some kind of large juggernaut that simply has to be elected, well, just because.Among other things, I'd say she's running on the desire to actually have a Democratic government. I'm not sure most of Barack Obama's voters would put it that way -- the politically engaged ones might -- but I think even his less politicized supporters voted for him in 2008 and 2012 in the hope that there'd be improvements in ordinary people's lives that never actually happened. Different members of the coalition hoped we'd move forward on immigration, on the environment, on women's rights, on guns, and so on; they hoped we'd do better on reining in the fat cats and on dialing back our national security overreach.
I'm not saying that Hillary Clinton is the ideal standard-bearer on all these issues -- in a few cases, like national security, she's far from it. What I'm saying is that because Obama has been bottled up on some issues, and has been a disappointment on others, supporters of the party that now holds the White House are as desperate to win in 2016 as supporters of the party that lost the last two elections, so we're less interested in purity than in putting our strongest contender up there.
Most Democratic voters aren't politics junkies, so they're not analyzing Hillary in pundit terms. They're just hoping to find someone who might have the ability to get us out of this rut. Hillary seems to have the mot political skill. So she's the one Democratic voters are pinning their hopes on.