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Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Hillary Will Be the Nominee

I generally agree with John Hawkins, but I have to take issue with him on this post.

Hillary is widely assumed to be the Democrats "chosen one" for 2008, a candidate who will easily take the nomination and will be a tough opponent Republicans will be lucky to beat. But, as the days have worn on, I have become convinced that she is a significantly weaker candidate than most think. In fact, not only would I go so far as to say that she probably won't beat a moderate to strong GOP candidate in 2008, but I'm becoming less and less sure she will even be the nominee for the Democrats.

Hillary will be a solid candidate. A lot will depend on where the economy is, and whether the Iraq situation has settled down. But anybody thinking that she will be a weak candidate has not been paying attention to her for the last six years. When she was first elected, we all marveled at what a tin ear she had for politics, with gaffes like the Suha Arafat kiss.

But she's a quick learner. I defy anybody to come up with a real bone-headed move she's made in the last couple of years. She's taking great care not to come off as too liberal, and while that would normally be problematic for the Democrat primaries, she's the only candidate who can afford to run to the middle before wrapping up the nomination.

I'd add to this that even though Hillary does well among Democrats, which bodes well for her chances in the primaries, the Michael Moore/Kos crowd is very lukewarm to Hillary. Although that's a loopy group of libs, they're also highly motivated, highly influential, and are likely to make up a disproportionate percentage of volunteers and financial contributors.

Yes, but who among those respected luminaries has shown any ability to get their candidate elected? IIRC, Kos and Moore were a supporter of Wesley Clark. I can't think of a major blogger among the left who started out as a Kerry fan; most of them were in favor of Howard Dean.

When you consider that Hillary isn't doing well with independents, isn't likely to carry any Southern states, isn't particularly charismatic, isn't doing well with independents, and according to this poll, is losing men by 22 points, you've got to wonder if we might see a Howard Dean like flame-out when Democratic voters have to actually decide if they want Hill as their candidate. Granted, Hillary and Dean are stylistically two very different types of politicians, but when Democratic voters concluded Dean was too much of a big mouth to win, they abandoned him. In Hillary's case, if they conclude she just has too much baggage to win, the same thing could happen.

The Howard Dean like flame-out will come from somebody the Moore/Kos crowd adopts; Russ Feingold seems to be angling for that honor. Dean's problem was that his base of support in the party was never really that big to begin with. Although the far Left is strongly represented in the blogs and the Democrats' activist base, it still represents only a fragment of the Democratic primary voters.

Put another way, most Democrats are not idiots. They did not turn away from Howard Dean, they just weren't paying close attention when he was on top of the world. When they did stop and focus for a moment, his bubble burst, because Dean was not a candidate that could stand close examination. Hillary's been in the spotlight for 13 years now. She's not going to make the stupid mistakes that Howard Dean made, like embracing LIHOP on the Diane Rehm Show.

As for Hillary's baggage, I hate to be the one to break this news to my fellow Republicans, but we know all the skeletons in her closet. Anybody who thinks they can score points against her by digging something up from the past is kidding themselves. Every square inch of her life has been covered. Whitewater? Nobody's going to want to hear about it. Commodity futures? We know.

Hillary can be beaten. But it's not going to be easy, and it's not going to happen in the Democratic primaries.
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