I don't think Bill Clinton actually told a Greek tycoon no one has ever heard of that he knows that Hillary Clinton is running for president in 2016. That's because Clinton generally tells people we do know about that he really does want her to run and he knows nothing about her making a final or even preliminary decision to do so.
I've written in this space that Clinton can pause the entire Democratic presidential field until fairly late, perhaps even until the first few months of 2015. But something is nagging me a little.
In 2014, Democrats will be 17 seats away from retaking the House of Representatives. This would be a tough ask in any environment: The president's party generally loses about two dozen seats in midterm elections, and tends to lose more after strong general election wins. Exigent circumstances (impeachment fatigue in 1998 and war-mongering in 2002) can change the calculus, but there are solid, grounded historical reasons why the climb is uphill. Even Lance Armstrong all souped up couldn't make it to the top.
Democrats will therefore be anxious, and I bet a large number of would-be presidential candidates will be very eager to help them out. Money, feet on the ground, consultant help — off-year election help is not charity. One is supposed to return the favor in the form of an endorsement two years hence.
Clinton would be the biggest draw of any Democrat, save perhaps the president. In theory, she can still stay out of the race, not set up a PAC, or not lend any political assistance. But she'll be the story for Democrats. She'll be able to test her public image. She'll be able to test her campaign skills again. And she'll still be able to be coy enough about her intentions so that the party fundraisers (and the legion of young Obama-ites who've grown to love her and all those Clintonistas who still roam) will await her direction.
In fact, I don't see how she doesn't campaign in 2014.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- Will Kobani be ISIS's Waterloo?
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- The case for voting (even if America is a corrupt plutocracy rigged by the rich)
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
Subscribe to the Week