Friday, August 14, 2015

Where's Hillary?

I have to wonder if Hillary Clinton is seriously regretting having stepped down from the Senate to serve as Obama's Secretary of State.  I think it would have been a whole lot easier for her to run as President as a sitting Senator than it has been as a former Sec. of State, especially with the faux e-mail and Bengazi scandals hanging over her head.  I suppose at the time it seemed like a plum position to be the head of the state department, but she really didn't do much in the role.

Obama was mostly concerned with the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Robert Gates was the front man here, not Hillary.  What initiatives Obama pursued with Russia were largely his own doing, since Hillary was persona non grata in Moscow with her outspoken comments on Putin.  You have to wonder if she was even in the loop when it came to important policy decision making, like choosing to take out Osama bin Laden.  In the first half of his tenure, Obama appeared to rely more on Joe Biden for FP advice than he did Hillary Clinton.

After vacillating for what seemed an exceedingly long time, Hillary finally decided to run for President. A number of persons were considering runs, but waited to see what Hillary wanted to do.  She rolled out her campaign about as effectively as the Obama administration rolled out its health insurance exchanges, and now finds herself having to play catch up with a man her campaign staff obviously dismissed as a fluke.

Bernie Sanders now leads her by a substantial margin in New Hampshire polls, and you figure he has the campaign forces in place to do well in the Iowa caucuses.  He has been drawing big crowds wherever he goes, because unlike Hillary he has something to say, and has been saying it loudly.  His attack on the Billionaire Class, Big Banks, and corrupt campaign laws is resonating with the Democratic base.  On top of that, he continues to introduce legislation in the Senate that bolsters his arguments.  It doesn't matter if these bills get buried in committees.  To this point, Hillary has only offered a faint echo of Sanders on the campaign trail.

This is leading some Democrats to start considering alternatives, as they are not fully comfortable with a 74-year-old Howard Beale as their only real alternative to Hillary.  The other choices: Jim Webb, Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chaffee haven't made any impact on the Democratic electorate.  To make matters worse Black Lives Matter has been trolling Democratic campaigns, in some cases hijacking scheduled speeches, like Bernie's in Seattle.  Since then Bernie has made amends with BLM and even invited the same two activists to headline his campaign stop in Los Angeles. 

Meanwhile, Hillary has been more difficult to spot on the campaign trail than Waldo, seemingly content to ride out the summer and wait till Fall to mount her campaign in full force.  This has led some pundits to question her motivation and many Democrats to question her commitment.  We now see attempts to draft Joe Biden, John Kerry and even Al Gore.  That's right, Mr. Green.

Sean Illing makes a case for the former Clinton vice-president in this Salon article, but how much stature does Al really have anymore?  I think most Democrats would see him the same way Republicans do Jeb Bush, as a relic of the past.  Democrats want new leadership, not another figure from the Clinton era, which is why so many voted for Obama in 2008 and not Hillary Clinton.

With Hillary taking so long to decide, younger candidates who would have been wise to declare this past Spring or even last Fall in order to make their names known to a wider electorate have too little time now to mount a serious challenge in New Hampshire and Iowa, less than 6 months away.  About the only youngish candidate with name recognition is Elizabeth Warren and she has chosen not to run.  Like it or not, Democrats look like they are stuck with Hillary and Bernie, unless maybe Oprah decided to run for President.

It's not like they are bad choices.  Looking at the clown car of Republican candidates, I would take Hillary or Bernie over any GOP candidate, but it would be nice to have more of a choice.  Martin O'Malley was long regarded as a potential liberal force but so far has failed to materialize on the campaign trail.  He too found himself trolled by Black Lives Matter, and didn't come out the better for it.  At 74, Bernie surprisingly seems the most spry and responsive of all the Democratic candidates, as seen in his LA rally.  It's Hillary who looks old.  She has to start hitting the trail, show some energy, not let these faux scandals drag her down.

It's been a strange summer, that's for sure.   Maybe Jim Webb will offer something more than just his purple hearts and tattoos?  Maybe Martin O'Malley will find his voice?  Who the hell is Lincoln Chaffee anyway?  Compared to the Republican campaign, the Democratic campaign is all Bernie at this point, and Hillary better have something big planned for the Fall or otherwise it could be a very long campaign for her.

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