It’s a question that may be just over the horizon.
There’s been a lot of talk about Pres. Barack Obama’s concern with his “legacy”. Some of his more robust recent controversial stretches of executive power have been seen as a reaction to six years of less than effective liaison, first with his Democratic controlled Congress, then with a Republican House, and now with both chambers in the hands of his political opponents. It hasn’t left a great bundle of monuments, especially with Obamacare under constant attack.
There’s a general consensus, too, that Obama won the presidency, particularly in the second term, with a unique political machine, maximizing the new digital revolution. There is agreement, too, that much of this was outside the purviews of the once mighty Big City Democratic machines, and that while eroded, that bundle of knowhow could constitute a force in the 2016 elections if resuscitated
All this to say that Obama can be seen as could play an important role in the coming campaign as it gains momentum, even though he keeps saying he has had his last election and no one yet takes seriously hints about the UN Secretary-Generalship coming up shortly.
At the other end of the ballpark, the candidacy of Hillary Clinton is rapidly loosing steam. She originally went for a strategy of coronation, as a former First Lady, Senator, and longtime political insider But she has little if any of the charisma of her husband who comes across even to his enemies as a somewhat quintessential Peck’s bad boy. Nor, especially after the Obama presidency, does she have his appeal to the black voter, traditionally always lax at the polls, or the purported Hispanic vote with two prominent Cuban Americans thrashing it out on the other side of the great divide.
This week’s explosive denials of accusations of her manipulation of government e-mails, however unspontaneous, are an evidence that the coronation strategy has worn thin. It may have to give way to old-fashioned electioneering with all the possibilities of missteps which her wooden public personality exaggerate. With so many young Republican contenders, it is too easy to label Hillary as yesterday’s candidate. Of course, there is Vice President Joe Bidden, the crazy uncle from the attic, but with two failed campaigns under his extended belt, that doesn’t seem too strong a possibility.
But it was from the White House that the first leaks, apparently, came about Hillary’s own personal server carrying her e-mails from a closet in a toilet. [To flush them down, just in case.] And then that FBI investigation? Yeah, we know the FBI is nonpolitical, that this investigation is limited to whether the celebrated e-mails can be released publicly. But the FBI reports to the Attorney-General of the United States and the Attorney-General [with no mention in the Constitution nevertheless] reports to the President of the U.S. …
That brings us to the issue of how far Obama, who has after all had his past differences with both Clintons — Hillary on the campaign trail — will want to go in pushing Hillary’s candidacy given its current lackluster. Or, would he, in the kind of “evolution” many if not most of his policies have taken, shift his weight to another candidate, and if so, who?
There is some puzzlement for why so many Democratic possibilities have not already thrown their hat into the ring. One speculates on Gov. Andrew Cuomo or even that ageing “Moonbeam”, Jerry Brown, the still popular governor who even at 77 could probably carry California’s 55 electoral votes toward the magic 270. Then there is the young Hispanic star, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, former San Antonio mayor who might pull a big Texas vote. If Hillary’s standing in the polls continues to drop, there are likely to be new entrants even contrary to speculation that it is going to be a Republican year, whatever – not the least because Obama leaves too much ugly debris.
The fact that Sen. Bernie Sanders has become a rock star for the Democratic leftwing base putting Hillary to shame, is a symptom. His “democratic socialist” label in addition to Vermont effetism is a no-no for too many voters whose granddaddies [great granddaddies?] racked up almost a million votes in 1920 for socialist Eugene V. Debs, from whom Sanders descends when the U.S. had less than a third its current 320 million.
Maryland’s Gov. O’Malley, once a bright young Baltimore mayor – ouch, Baltimore! – hasn’t stirred up much dust. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who keeps issuing Shermanoid statements, shares many of Obama’s politics, but if it is one woman down, another with a too professorial demeanor and a serious violation of affirmative action, doesn’t seem to fill the bill either.
So has Obama got some one in his barn he will trot out? Looking back when a young, unknown, Illinois senator by happenstance, challenged Hillary Clinton, it might be we should go looking for Obama’s candidate.