Hillary Clinton's popularity has soared to an all-time high as she prepares to step down as secretary of state and, she says, get some much needed R&R. But a majority of Americans don't want her to stay off the political stage for long, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. In fact, 57 percent of all Americans — including 23 percent of Republicans — say they want her to run for the presidency in 2016. And 82 percent of Democrats say they'd get behind a Clinton campaign — most of them strongly. Of course, some political observers say Hillary fans needn't worry: She's going to run. In fact, her backers have already produced what might be her "first 2016 campaign ad," says Josh Greenman at the New York Daily News. Watch:
It's an "adoring tribute video" that was played at the prestigious Saban Forum for Middle East Policy last week. If you're still wondering whether the former first lady is determined to return to the White House, says David Remnick at The New Yorker, this brief video should put your doubts to rest.
The film was like an international endorsement four years in advance of the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. The tone was so reverential that it resembled the sort of film that the Central Committee of the Communist Party might have produced for Leonid Brezhnev’s retirement party if Leonid Brezhnev would only have retired and the Soviets had been in possession of advanced video technology. After it was over there was a separate video from the president. Looking straight into the camera, Obama kvelled at length: "You've been at my side at some of the most important moments of my administration."
When the videos were over (and as the evening moved on), there was much chatter about what Clinton would do after she steps down from the cabinet next month — a haircut; take a few weeks sleeping off jet lag at Canyon Ranch; read the polls and the political landscape; do good works; do good works for the good people of, say, Iowa — and so on. Everyone had a theory of which they were a hundred percent certain. There wasn’t much doubt about the ultimate direction. 2007-8 was but a memory and 2016 was within sight. She's running.
Don't be so sure, says Keli Goff at The Root. There's little question that if the Iowa caucuses were held tomorrow, Clinton would blow away the competition. "So why wouldn't she run?" As she and her husband have said, Hillary has jumped from one grueling job to another over 20 years in the public eye — from first lady to U.S. senator to presidential candidate to secretary of state — and now "she actually wants to do things like sleep."
She will be 69 in four years, and 73 in eight. Though President Reagan was 69 when he took office, it is still an age that may raise eyebrows among some — including some voters who may not be willing to admit that they view an older woman in more judgmental terms than they do an older man.
But perhaps most important of all, the chances that any party will hold on to the White House for a full 16 years are low. This means that if Clinton runs for president in 2016, she'll be running with the knowledge that thanks to eight years of Barack Obama, the likelihood of her being re-elected to a second term as president, should she win, is reduced.
Well, there's little question Hillary Clinton would be among the best qualified presidential candidates in modern history, says Marc Ambinder at The Week. "She has been humbled, first by her husband's affair and later by the 2008 primary campaign, and has pulled herself up each time, becoming a better politician and person." She has survived the rigors of campaigns, knows how Washington works, has an impeccable foreign policy resume, and has "proven she has the fortitude to BE president." Most Democrats see her, not Vice President Joe Biden, as "Obama's heir apparent." Does she want the job, though? The truth is, she hasn't made up her mind yet.
If I had to bet, I'd bet that she decides to run, if only because she will feel that destiny and circumstance have put her in the right place at the right time. She may feel that she owes it to young women and those who supported her to finish the marathon of American politics. But she might well decide that her legacy is secure, her popularity is intact, her financial prospects are bright, and her future lies with advocacy from the outside and grand-mothering.
Anyone who says they KNOW what she'll do is lying, either to you, or to themselves.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2014
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Pope Francis' American problem
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
Subscribe to the Week