Despite this blog's brief history, events in the news have already provided me with a couple of opportunities to muse why and whether Hillary Clinton might seek the presidency in 2004. Two articles in the past week have given me cause to revisit the issue again. Eleanor Clift, writing in Newsweek about Hillary, says that:
I don’t believe she’ll run in 2004, and I’m sticking to my story. But she is leaving a crack open in the event President Bush’s presidency collapses on a grander scale than we’ve seen so far, that Howard Dean implodes on his straight talk and that Clark with his quirky certitude turns out to be more Ross Perot than Dwight Eisenhower.
Even then, Hillary would run into a buzz saw in New York because of her repeated pledge to serve out her full six years. Prematurely bolting for the presidency would play into the caricature of Hillary as a careerist and opportunist, more focused on her own ambition than what’s good for her constituents.
That's what I thought as well. But in an article in the online version of Business Week Douglas Harbrecht, in making what I consider to be a persuasive case that 2004 is apt to afford Sen. Clinton her best chance of reaching the White House, points out something I had forgotten -- if I ever knew it to begin with -- namely that Bill Clinton himself, in running for the presidency in 1992, broke a campaign pledge he had made to the people of Arkansas:
Successful candidates move when the magic strikes. Just ask Bill Clinton -- he declared flat out that he wouldn't run for President in 1992 if Arkansans reelected him to a fifth term as governor of the Razorback State in 1990. Did that Clinton's fib matter? Not a wit. Bubba saw his opportunity, and he took it.
Clinton understood that the scrapheap of politics is littered with the ambitions of those who thought they could bide their time or wait their turn for a Presidential run. Ted Kennedy hemmed and hawed for years, toying with the hearts of the party faithful, until stumbling into a disastrous slugfest with Jimmy Carter in 1980. His sense of timing couldn't have been worse.
Given all the glowing things that Bill Clinton has had to say about Clark in recent weeks and the fact that some former Clinton staffers who had been sitting on the sidelines have joined the ex-general's campaign, I figured that HRC had signalled that she had given up on 2004. But I'm increasingly of the opinion that should President Bush fall further in the polls in the coming month, all bets are off. If Clark is holding up well in the polls perhaps Hillary would consider being his VP. And should he falter, Hillary could step in as a popular compromise that supporters of both Dean (the fiery insurgent) and Clark (the sober establishment candidate) can rally behind in the general election setting up the proverbial clash of the titans: Bush v. Clinton, Round II. And perhaps Clark would consent to be Hillary's veep. The Clark-as-stalking horse thesis seems more plausible when I recall/learn that breaking a campaign promise not to seek higher office is already in the Clintons' playbook.
The key date to watch is November 21, the filing date for the New Hampshire primary.