Sometimes I think I get a general sense of what's about to happen. I'm no Edgar Cayce or anything, but I can often imagine the effect that results from the cause. If you disregard my absolute certainty that Al Gore would be president in 2000, my predictions have more often been right than wrong. Even back in 2006, when Hillary Clinton was all but being crowned as the next Democratic presidential candidate, I wrote that two years was an eternity for another candidate to emerge to challenge the presumptive nominee, and one certainly did.
The historical inevitability of Barack Obama couldn't be stopped, even by the ugly campaign the Clintons ran against him. Hillary's failed campaign left a lingering resentment among certain Democrats over her scatter-shot tactics and baseless accusations. Her term as Obama's secretary of state revived her reputation for competence, regardless of the fake "scandals" the GOP tried to lay at her feet. Hillary is probably the most-qualified, best-informed candidate to seek the presidency in decades, and polls have shown the country's willingness to elect a female president. So let me go out on a limb and make a prediction, then two years from now, you can check back and see if I was correct. Hillary Clinton will not only fail to win the presidency, she won't even get the Democratic nomination.
A lightning rod for controversy, Hillary can instantly become so exasperated that she unleashes a public barrage of ill-inspired quotable soundbites that only provide ammunition for her enemies. It's been pretty much settled that the entire Benghazi witch-hunt was merely a concoction of right-wing operatives out to do her damage, but frustrated by idiotic questions over whether to call the tragedy a "terrorist attack," or a "spontaneous protest," Hillary spouted, "At this point, what difference does it make?" When stripped of its context, right-wing pundits found her remarks to be pure gold, and the almost defunct House Select Committee on Benghazi has become suddenly reanimated, subpoenaing thousands of her newly controversial emails.
Hillary has a history of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Remember when she said she wasn't going to be a typical first lady, sitting home and baking cookies or "standing by her man," as the popular song went. The accompanying outrage forced her to go out and profess her love of country music and apologize to Tammy Wynette and America's housewives. And when the Gennifer Flowers scandal came along, she did stand by her man after all.
While in the White House, she was accused of everything from murder to drug smuggling, as well as being "secretive." Then she did herself no favors by having her previously requested Rose Law Firm billing statements, said to be long lost, turn up one day in a White House office drawer. Hillary parlayed Bill's inexcusable sexual betrayal into a senate seat from New York, where she learned the art of "triangulation" — taking the absolute middle ground between two opposing points of view. In this capacity, Clinton voted her approval for the Iraqi War; co-sponsored an anti-flag burning amendment, even though she's a lawyer and knew that the Supreme Court had already ruled the act was a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment; and voted for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, opening the door for U.S. attacks on Iran. During Hillary's senate career, every controversial vote seemed to be made with a political calculation.
This latest kerfuffle about Hillary using her private email account to conduct government business is another stink-bomb attack by her adversaries that won't amount to much, yet she insists on making it worse for herself. Already believed in certain quarters to be someone who cuts corners or makes her own rules, Hillary set up her own private server, registered to a fictitious name and routed it back to her New York home. She didn't break any laws, but she bent the rules. The former secretary has announced that she is eager to turn over her emails for scrutiny, but only those pertaining to the business of the State Department. This allows her to exercise more control over physical access and furthers the perception that she has something to hide. At some point, Hillary will also have to justify accepting donations by foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state.
It's enough to give you a case of pre-Clinton Fatigue. Two years is a lifetime for a presumptive nominee to coast, and there are bound to be more gaffes and temper explosions. When Hillary alienates enough members of her own party, the Democrats may be forced to turn to someone else. The GOP will likely nominate a Tea Party extremist as their candidate. Why shouldn't the Dems offer a true liberal and a fighter for the underdog instead of another blue-dog? Elizabeth Warren insists she's not running for president. So did Barack Obama before he was finally convinced that his hour of destiny had arrived.
Randy Haspel writes the "Recycled Hippies" blog, where a version of this column first appeared.