President Clinton: The Sequel

By Haridos Apostolides, US Correspondent 

President Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton will run for President of the United States in 2016

OK. It’s not confirmed yet, but it does seem fairly certain; Hillary Clinton will run for presidency in 2016.

There won’t, of course, be an announcement for another twelve months or so as the focus for now will most likely be on the midterm elections in November as the Democrats and Republicans try to regain control of the House and Senate respectively.

Already, Priorities USA Action, the massive super PAC which was vital in both of President Barack Obama’s campaign’s have formally aligned their support to the former Secretary of State’s unconfirmed bid. Many political journals have established how no other Democratic candidate, including Vice President Joe Biden, would be able to put up enough of a challenge in the primaries, while few Republicans would be effective against her in the general election.

Not to mention that most polls have her way ahead of every other potential candidate. A February CBS/New York Times poll showed that 82 per cent of Democrats and 52 per cent of Independents wanted Mrs. Clinton to run, compared to 42 per cent and 26 per cent for Vice President Biden.

No other non-incumbent this far from an election has ever looked so formidable.

But why?

What has changed?

While she was a strong contender in the 2008 race, then-Senator Obama’s campaign devoted to “Hope” sparked such a viral sensation that it lifted him easily above the other hopefuls. No one since John F. Kennedy had caused such a collegiate rush to the polling stations. Hillary had the majority of women’s groups and working-class white men in her favour, but she didn’t have that je ne sais quoi that Obama possessed.

Mrs. Clinton did have confidence. She was, and still is, intellectual. She had ideas and motivation. She had cross-the-aisle support from those in Congress. She was fierce.

But she also had the Bill baggage.

Let’s take it back a step…

William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary Diane Rodham first met in a civil liberties class at Yale Law School in 1970. They went on to become the foremost political power couple of modern times.

Everyone who has been around the news over the past two decades has an opinion on this First Couple. Most of it has been dominated by former President Clinton’s race to the White House, his battles with a hostile Congress, his intelligence and charisma, and of course his smooth saxophone playing at numerous events and late night chat shows.

Oh, and there was that whole affair thing.

Like current First Lady Michelle Obama, Mrs. Clinton was never going to sit quietly behind the scenes like so many had before. She was ambitious and had causes she wanted to work on. Unlike Mrs. Obama, however,  First Lady Clinton’s were far loftier.

Many critics have maintained the cynical view that the Clinton marriage is one of a purposefully political nature; others who are close to the couple have refuted this declaring their genuine affection for one another.

The critics, nevertheless, have offered insight into the politics of this union. Historian William Chafe claimed that the First Lady benefitted most from the marriage by using her husband’s indiscretions to create her own persona. By “saving” her husband from humiliation she not only reformed her more centrist morality by putting her family first, but she also ensured that she was covered professionally. The “Co-President”, a title bestowed upon her by President Clinton, was given her own office alongside those of the President and Vice President, and was left to manage a national healthcare reform initiative, one of the most important domestic policies of the 1990s.

It was these moments that set the course for the future political career of New York’s Senator Clinton and her later run at the Oval Office.

Mrs. Clinton goes to Washington

Senator Clinton succeeded in her bid and moved from one White House to another. Her time in the upper chamber was both effective in what she achieved – building relations with members of both parties, serving on numerous Senate committees all the while maintaining a relatively low public profile – and in being able to demonstrate her capabilities outside of her husband’s shadow.

It wasn’t until the Senator announced her decision to run for president that questions regarding Bill’s role began to arise. To many, the former president was the Senator’s biggest asset. To others, he was a liability.

His popularity in the party helped Mrs. Clinton’s favour with the electorate, and his supporters, friends, donators and campaigners all became hers.

Yet his presence also caused scandal for the campaign. A lot of Clinton hatred left over from the nineties began to stir; the media, Republicans in Congress and countless numbers who thought his presidency was disgraceful brought to light every forgotten aspect of the Clinton White House, generating new stories in the press.

He stepped into fresh controversy in January 2008 when Bill was involved in several skirmishes with Senator Obama. During the South Carolina primary, the former President made remarks suggesting that Obama only won the state by playing the race card.

By involving himself, unexpectedly, in several disputes with the press and the opposition, President Clinton often appeared to be running against Obama himself, and not Senator Clinton, who seemed to hesitate from extracting her husband’s presence on the frontline.

2008, 2016… What’s changed in eight years?

Hillary Clinton has changed.

After her four-year tenure heading the State Department, Secretary Clinton gained genuine, first hand diplomatic experience in foreign policy. In fact, her years in the post earned her even greater worldwide recognition than she had begun with, this time as an individual and not as one half. Her resignation from the department was also perfectly timed; she was able to avoid the drastic situations in Syria, Israel-Palestine and Iran.

What could the United States, and the world, gain from a second Clinton running the White House? Only time, and votes, can really tell. But with President Obama’s favourability on a downward spiral due to recent revelations about NSA tactics, and the horrendous rollout of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) many Americans on both sides would welcome the change.

Hillary Clinton: The 45th

President Hillary Clinton would most likely continue the work begun by Obama on Iran, working with other nations on a peace treaty rather than hitting the nation with more Senate authorised sanctions. She is, however, likely to take a slightly tougher line given her ties to Israel and pro-Israeli networks across the US. But anyone who thought that a woman couldn’t lead the world’s largest military arsenal clearly don’t know much about Hillary Clinton.

Like Iran, it seems, the same story will be for Syria. Stating her unhappiness at Assad’s slow response to the agreements made, she announced, “We have to stay focused on getting the chemical weapons out of Syria.”

On domestic issues, President Clinton would likely continue on a moderate-progressive platform, similar to her promises in the 2008 campaign. To a group of students at the University of Miami, Clinton defined the 21st Century as one which recognises “inclusive leadership”, highlighting a recent veto by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on a controversial anti-gay bill: “No one can or should sit on the side lines… I hope that you will find ways to make sure that the barriers that divide us too often are… torn down.”

And on Obamacare? Until a formal announcement is made, it is unlikely Clinton will offer any substantive positions on the nation’s healthcare. But she did state her general support for the act, while underscoring a moderate stance: “Part of the challenge is to clear away all the smoke and try to figure out what is working and what isn’t.”

Hillary + Bill = ?

Positioning herself on the left and the right side of arguments? With every event Clinton attends, it seems she has learned her lessons from the last campaign. She has begun conversations with groups, rather than reading scripts. She has, in some respects, become “Bill-ified” with her cooler methods of campaigning. Gone are the direct phrases, replaced instead with personal anecdotes, a specialty of the former President’s. By learning from the errors of the past, a Clinton-united front on the trail for 2016 would be a force few opponents could break. Mrs. Clinton, already an intimidating power, has begun to find the supporting role she needs from Mr. Clinton.

Everything does seem to be adding up: Hillary Clinton is running for President. And not just running, she’s already looking to the final hurdle.

Long before it is expected to start, it is already hers to lose.

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