“Can anyone stop Hillary?” said David Von Drehle in Time. The former secretary of state has yet to declare her intentions but is already seen, by Democrats and Republicans alike, as the overwhelming favorite to be her party’s nominee in 2016. After all, Clinton’s name recognition is universal. She has millions of “fervently devoted followers from coast-to-coast,” and many feel it’s now a woman’s turn, after the disappointment of her narrow loss to Barack Obama in 2008. Best of all, she has a conspicuous lack of serious opponents. In a new poll of Democrats, Clinton leads Joe Biden, the second-most-popular candidate, by 73 percent to 12 percent. “Unless something incredibly dramatic happens,” said Justin Beach in HuffingtonPost.com, Clinton’s going to be the nominee. And given the bitter divisions the Tea Party has caused in the GOP, she’ll almost certainly take the White House. I always assumed the election of our first female president would be “a nail-biter,” but it’s “shaping up to be a coronation.”
Hillary was “inevitable” last time, as well, said Kristen Soltis Anderson in TheDailyBeast.com. Polls from this point in 2006, 1,000 days before the 2008 election, show Clinton with a commanding lead over a crowded field—including such plausible nominees as Al Gore, John Kerry, and John Edwards—while the exotic name of one “Barack Obama” doesn’t even make the list. This far ahead of Election Day, it’s “entirely possible that the next president is not even being mentioned.” Clinton’s actually a far weaker candidate than last time, said Seth Mandel in CommentaryMagazine.com. Since then, she had a chance to prove herself as secretary of state, “and she failed that test spectacularly.” Due to her managerial incompetence, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were left defenseless and killed by Islamic terrorists in Benghazi.
Outside the right-wing echo chamber, Benghazi is not an issue, said Andrew Sullivan in Dish.AndrewSullivan.com. So who’s going to beat her? “There is no Obama in the wings” this time, and the sheer size of Hillary’s lead in the polls—triple what it was in 2006—will deter any serious Democratic candidate from mounting a challenge. Nor is it clear that Republicans have any strong candidate. The once-formidable Chris Christie is imploding over “Bridgegate.” The rest of the field consists of bland “Pawlenty-style Midwesterners,” who can’t match Clinton’s star power, and unelectable Tea Party extremists such as Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. If the GOP turns to Jeb Bush, which political dynasty do you think voters will want to revisit: the economic chaos and war of the last Bush administration or the “peace and prosperity” of the Clinton years?
Paradoxically, said John Podhoretz in the New York Post, Clinton’s seeming inevitability may be her undoing. Unlike Republicans, who are famous for nominating “the next guy in line,” Democratic voters prefer fiery insurgents. Someone will surely emerge to challenge her. As Hillary learned to her chagrin in 2008, said Ben Smith in BuzzFeed.com, party activists and the media tend to take a “rooting interest in the underdog.” When that underdog does emerge, the press will turn a flattering spotlight on him or her, while submitting Hillary to increasingly skeptical scrutiny. If the voters perceive her to be a character from America’s political past (she’ll be 69 in 2016), with no “compelling rationale” to run, Clinton may get a nasty surprise. Hold that coronation.