2016: The Year for the First Woman President?


Even though the dust has barely settled from the last presidential campaign, many are leapfrogging over the mid-term elections in 2014 and instead landing their focus on the presidential election of 2016.  Over the past few weeks, there has been a noticeable surge in the push for Hillary Clinton to throw her hat in the presidential ring for 2016.  Speculation began when Clinton chose to step down as secretary of state in February and stand apart from the Obama administration’s second term, but the enthusiasm has once again popped up in significant ways.  Not only have Hillary and daughter Chelsea been hitting the airwaves, Obama himself seems to be preparing America for the first female president of the United States.  Additionally, several House Democrats who endorsed Obama over Clinton in the 2008 primary said that all signs point to widespread Democratic support for a second presidential bid for the former secretary of state.  In fact, a big Super PAC, Ready For Hillary, is aggressively pushing for donations – and believe it or not, the bumper stickers and t-shirts are already widely available.

But are we ready for another Clinton in the White House?  Senator Claire McCaskill (D–MO) thinks so. “It’s important that we start early, build a grassroots army from the ground up, and effectively use the tools of the internet – all things that Obama did so successfully – so that if Hillary does decide to run, we’ll be ready to help her win.”  An early Obama backer in 2008, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), seems to now be aboard the Hillary train as well, saying, “If she doesn’t run, then it would be a loss for the nation.”   Polls conducted among likely voters also show that Clinton is dominating the possible Democratic field.

But even though The New York Times recently asserted that Clinton has “near unanimous support from her party,” holding up that claim to the light reveals some major holes.  Patti Solis Doyle and Howard Wolfson, Democratic strategists who were key figures in Clinton’s 2008 campaign, question whether Clinton has the energy to pick up the threads from her last presidential bid and carry the Democrats through to a third consecutive term.  This would be a feat not achieved by the party since the heady days of the pre-22nd-Amendment Roosevelt/Truman presidencies.  Clinton would be 69 by the next election cycle, and many strategists on the conservative side have been shining light on that, contrasting her with the Republican hopefuls (Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, etc.) who are all of a younger age.  Also, questions surround her involvement in the gruesome Benghazi scandal, with many wondering if she was one of the Washington insiders who had blood on their hands that fateful night.

Regardless of this enormous amount of baggage Clinton would surely bring, political watchers all see the writing on the wall, with much seeming to point toward Clinton.  PolicyMic recently outlined “Hillary’s 6-Step Plan to Sit at Obama’s Desk in 2016” – true dynastic Democratic succession, in the manner of the Kennedys:

1. Hillary Clinton agrees to publicly support Barack Obama for President for two full terms to roll-back Bush-era legislation and institute long-cherished Democratic policies (healthcare for one) in return for being Obama’s appointed successor.

2. To avoid associating Hillary with expected backlash from Republicans on key domestic issues (healthcare, immigration, gay rights) Joe Biden is appointed as a two-term “solid hands” Vice President who won’t challenge Clinton as the primary successor.

3. Biden is seen as a steady and experienced statesman who would be too old in 2016 to consider running but speculation that he may run will keep some rival Democrats from declaring early (or at all) in the expectation that the 2016 Democratic primaries will be a Biden/Clinton battle.

4. Clinton takes the position of secretary of state for one term to stay in the public eye in a positive role abroad, with Obama committing to limit involvement in unnecessary warfare, promote democracy, and restore relations with Russia, Middle East, and Israel (to name a few).

5. Obama agrees, in return, to limit Clinton’s exposure to politically-damaging issues facing the administration and have responsibility fall upon the White House where possible (especially within his second term to shift blame away).

6. Clinton agrees to step down after one term to prepare for her presidential bid whilst John Kerry, the other key potential Democratic candidate, is kept busy by being nominated as secretary of state for Obama’s second term.

Ultimately the decision to form a presidential exploratory committee will rest with Hillary Clinton, but the wheels seem to be in motion.  Many will surely be interested in whether the infamous “glass ceiling” will be shattered or whether the wait will continue.

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