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Is a Hillary Clinton Presidency Inevitable?

Looking back over the last century there were two great coalition builders in presidential politics: FDR and Richard Nixon. Franklin Roosevelt broke the Lincoln lock on the presidency that had given Republicans the White House in 56 of the previous 72 years. From 1932 to 1964, FDR’s party would win seven of nine elections. Nixon broke through in ’68 and built the New Majority that gave the GOP the White House for 20 of the next 24 years.

The Nixon-Reagan coalition, however, has aged and atrophied. In five of the last six presidential elections, the Democratic nominee won the popular vote. And no fewer than 18 states, including four of the most populous — California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York — have gone Democratic in all six of those elections. Also, four states crucial to victory and once regarded as reliably Republican — Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado — have turned purple. The GOP is also facing a demographic crisis. White folks, who provide almost 90 percent of Republican votes in presidential years, are steadily shrinking as a share of the electorate.

Is Hillary thus inevitable?

With the cash she can raise and the support of the sisterhood, she may be able to clear the field in the run for the nomination. And in a general election it is hard to see which Republican today could take 270 electoral votes from her.

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Yet the lady has vulnerabilities. If elected, Hillary would be, at 69, the oldest Democratic president ever. Husband Bill was nearly a quarter of a century younger when inaugurated, as was Barack Obama.

Her book tour for Hard Choices, with her tale of woe about having been “flat broke” in 2001, revealed a queen of privilege wildly out of touch with the hard realities of life in Middle America in 2014. Moreover, there is Clinton fatigue in the country and this capital. Americans under 30 never knew a time when she was not around. Her memoir looks likely to be remaindered long before it earns her publisher anything near the $14 million advance she is rumored to have received. Somebody at Simon & Schuster is going to the wall. And the Democratic left is pawing the turf.

Is her record in office impressive? The most critical vote she cast in eight years in the Senate—to take America into war with Iraq—she now admits was a mistake. And it’s not an insignificant one, considering the disaster that is Iraq today. Her record as secretary of state?

The most memorable moment was announcing the “reset” with Russia. How’s that working out?

Not only must Hillary answer for the failures that brought about the Benghazi massacre, and her absenteeism in its aftermath, but she must also defend a foreign policy that has left her country less respected on every continent. While most Americans support President Obama’s decisions to end the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is something about his leadership on the world stage that calls to mind the Carter era.

And while there is no end to the chatter in this city of the clash within the GOP between the establishment and the Tea Party, there are fissures and fractures visible as well in the Obama-Clinton party. As a wag once observed, the Democratic Party is a conclave of warring tribes that have come together in the anticipation of common plunder. But the old formula dating to FDR days, of “tax and tax, spend and spend, and elect and elect,” may have run its course.

The U.S. government is deep in debt and moving deeper. State capitals have hit the wall, forcing painful decisions to cut spending on education or pensions, or to raise taxes. Even in the bluest states, governors like Jerry Brown in California and Andrew Cuomo in New York have gotten the message. The halcyon days are over. Frugality is in. While the nation has been pulled back from the abyss of 2008 and 2009, the five-year Obama record since, with its massive deficits, soaring debt, anemic growth, and diminished share of the labor force working, is nothing to write home about.

Add in the NSA, IRS and VA scandals, and this is the kind of record candidates usually run away from, rather than run on.

While African-Americans and Asians are among the most loyal Democratic blocs, in California, Asians arose in angry protest to kill a proposed law to reinstate affirmative action in state schools. For Asians are now among the major victims of reverse discrimination.

Ms. Clinton says she has “evolved” on same-sex marriage. Have the conservative black pastors and preachers of the most churched community in America also evolved? How comfortable are black Christians in a party half of whose convention delegates booed when it was suggested that God be mentioned in the 2012 platform?

No. The presidency in 2016 is not beyond the reach of the GOP.

It is just difficult to see who, among those moving toward the starting gate, can reach the requisite 270 electoral votes.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? [1] Copyright 2014 Creators.com [2].

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#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 27, 2014 @ 1:51 am

Another “Hillbilly” Clinton White House, remaindered like the memoir. The President channeling her inner warmonger to overcompensate for perceived lack of same in women, while First Husband finds his kinder, gentler inner Bill.
The Clintonistas redolent of Peronistas, Eva filling in for Juan in dynastic nepotism. Can America really be so bereft of leadership, that this is all our country is left to muster? Looking around, leadership in America appears to be at a nadir.

#2 Comment By Dakarian On June 27, 2014 @ 3:08 am

“It is just difficult to see who, among those moving toward the starting gate, can reach the requisite 270 electoral votes.”

This is the key issue. 2012 (though really 2004) showed that you can’t run on an ‘anyone but’ campaign. Obama wouldn’t have won with just the ‘ug Bush’ crowd: he needed his star status. While the GOP doesn’t need a star, they need someone.

The good news is that there’s time for that. The bad news is what will the run on.. and that’s ‘on’ not ‘against’.

Democrats are pretty cool on Hillary, but in the end, they’ll accept her. If she wins the primary, they won’t see another choice. Unlike the Tea Party that sees a Democrat as better than a RINO, Dems will be feeling the jaws around their throat: win or be eliminated. A Republican congress will cement that feeling.

Or to put it this way, whatever issues I have with Hillary, it’s NOTHING compared to the hate I feel from the GOP. I feel that I couldn’t go Republican even if I wanted to.

#3 Comment By Sheldon On June 27, 2014 @ 8:17 am

What I love about a column like this – Peggy Noonan had almost exactly the same one today – outlining in detail Clinton’s flaws is that not a single sentence is devoted to the flaws of any of the possible Republican candidates, all of whom have positions to the extreme right of the American public. Jeb Bush is perhaps the exception, at least on immigration, except that in today’s Republican party he doesn’t have a chance at the nomination. For all of Clinton’s flaws, and I think these are often quite exaggerated by conservative columnists, she has one overwhelming asset compared to her Republican counterparts: She is not deranged.

#4 Comment By Uncle Billy On June 27, 2014 @ 9:03 am

The GOP can win in 2016, but they must offer more than tax cuts for the rich and gay bashing. They must recapture a sense of “the common good.” They must be for something, not just against Obama. They must stop trying to please the angriest white man in Mississippi.

#5 Comment By VikingLS On June 27, 2014 @ 9:24 am

I can’t see anybody on the right that’s going to beat her that’s likely to run other than Rand Paul and he’d have to do that by going full bore libertarian hulk rather than sucking up to the GOP establishment not only during the general election but also through the entire primary.

Honestly I don’t see him having the moxie to try that.

The alternative is someone from the Democratic party running to her left, which would shock and horrify the right, but is actually plausible.

#6 Comment By Clint On June 27, 2014 @ 9:41 am

As more and more information about Hillary Clinton’s health comes out,her chances of running for the presidency slim down.

#7 Comment By JP2 On June 27, 2014 @ 10:12 am

Rather than looking for which GOP or Dem candidate can defeat Hilary, we should be trying to identify a Leader who might appeal to voters hungry for a positive future. That person is out there, but is not to be found on a list of the usual suspects.

Names?

#8 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On June 27, 2014 @ 11:15 am

It seems that no matter to which direction one turns, there is no one of real presidential timbre out there. Hillary Clinton is Richard Nixon in a pants suit, more suited to be a Secretary of State (the dearth of accomplishments notwithstanding)rather than President. Like Nixon, she strikes me as temperamentally unsuited for the Presidency.

#9 Comment By Carl Freedman On June 27, 2014 @ 11:31 am

No particular statement in this column is exactly false, and yet the column as a whole is a bit misleading. Of course Hillary has vulnerabilities; all candidates do. Perfect candidates do not exist, and some presidents today renowned as party-builders and national leaders (FDR, Reagan) were once considered very long shots even within their own parties. Then too, some of the vulnerabilities that Pat Buchanan names are so minor as to be politically insignificant. Benghazi will sway no votes, because it interests nobody not already determined to vote Republican. And, though some black Christians are doubtless uneasy with the Democratic Party’s embrace of marriage equality, they will not, in any significant numbers, desert their party for a Republican Party more and more closely associated with white racism. A Hillary presidency is not inevitable simply because nothing that has not actually happened is ever inevitable. Anything might happen–she might not even run. But Republicans have very little reason to feel optimistic about 2016.

#10 Comment By stef On June 27, 2014 @ 11:41 am

Hillary may not want to run based on her own health issues, but let’s face it, John McCain was a cancer survivor, and melanoma is a pretty bad kind. People were anxious about Sarah Palin as a VP candidate for a reason.

What you can bet on is that if Hillary does run, she will most likely not get primaried by a more liberal Democrat. By 2016, most MIllenials will be in their 20s and 30s, and mature enough to understand all about “holding your nose” in politics.

I think Buchanan forgets how much most Millenials despise the GOP far more than they are blase about Hillary. They look at the Tea Party and social conservative crowd, and think, Anybody but these guys.

If Rand Paul runs as a libertarian in spirit, GOP in name, he’ll have a very tough time of it. Some young people will cross over and vote for him ONLY if he comes across as staunchly anti-war and pro-marijuana legalization. Otherwise, he has nothing to offer them (most millenials are still too poor to pay significant taxes.)

Women won’t touch Rand Paul as a candidate, period, especially younger college-educated ones, who are least likely to support Libertarianism.

And if Paul flip-flops on American interventionism and the “war on drugs,” he’ll get the “angry white man Mississippi vote” but not much else.

Further, Paul (unlike Paul Ryan) is a US Senator, and to get re-elected has had to vote for some very non-libertarian things like agriculture and agriculture-insurance subsidies. Those votes are going to be hard to explain to the libertarian crowd.

So, long story short, if Hillary runs, she’ll most likely win. If she does’t, and the Dems nominate some old coot like Kerry (not necessarily Kerry, but someone like him,), then the GOP may have a shot.

#11 Comment By Archon On June 27, 2014 @ 11:43 am

The GOP doesn’t have anymore voters to unearth which means they are gonna have to win a significant percentage of Obama voters to win the White House. Besides maybe Rand Paul, do you see a Republican coming up with an agenda (and getting through the GOP primary) with the ability to capture some Obama08/Obama12 voters?

Me neither

#12 Comment By RadicalCenter On June 27, 2014 @ 11:55 am

Sheldon: you will find that Rand Paul’s position on marijuana policy is tolerant, not “to the right of” American opinion in the sense that you mean, and in fact far more tolerant and practical than Hillary’s position (whatever that may be today).

Nor are Rand Paul’s foreign-policy views “to the right of” American opinion in the sense that you mean. Hillary’s warmongering views and record, though, ARE out of step with public opinion.

I’ll still guess that she’ll win both the nomination and the general election, but had to respond to your ill-informed talking points about all Republican contenders being “far to the right” of American opinion.

#13 Comment By David Naas On June 27, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

Funny.

Hillary is “inevitable” only because there is no one else in the Democratic Party who has enough stature to run a successful campaign. (All the others are not yet ready for Prime Time.)

OTOH, the Republican Party’s top politicians unfortunately look like a bevy of pandering pygmies. Each one has his/her little niche and legion of fanatical supporters, and not one — not one — can reach beyond that niche to bring in even the people theoretically on the same side.

It is almost as if the US is aping the rest of the world, where each little warlord has his faction, his turf, and little else, nor any inclination to cooperate.

#14 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 27, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

At this juncture, given no apparent alternative to “the usual suspects,” even the Kozinski character “Chauncey Gardiner” played in such an inspired way by Sellers in “Being There” would be preferable. It’s become clear that even I (or most any other ordinary citizen) could do a better job at running the country than the compromised bunch now doing so.In fact, every time I see one of these obnoxious individuals, I have the same reflexive urge to hit the remote channel control button, just like Chance.

#15 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 27, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

At this juncture, given no apparent alternative to “the usual suspects,” even the Kozinski character “Chauncey Gardiner” played in such an inspired way by Sellers in “Being There” would be preferable. It’s become clear that even I (or most any other ordinary citizen – even a gardener) could do a better job at running the country than the compromised bunch of scofflaws now doing so. In fact, every time I see one of these obnoxious temporizing individuals, I have the same reflexive urge to press the remote channel control button, just like Chance.

#16 Comment By Dave Williams On June 27, 2014 @ 1:25 pm

Scott Walker: he’s fixed a state full of bleeding-heart lefties, even over their howls of protest. Surely he can level up and do the same thing for the sad, bedraggled USA.

#17 Comment By Myron Hudson On June 27, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

I sure hope she’s not inevitable, but more than that I hope we aren’t saddled with any other flack for our corporate oligarchy and congressional military industrial complex.

Personally I will vote for whoever appears to be the least likely to kowtow to our client states and is most likely to get us out of the business of being an empire.

#18 Comment By Viking On June 27, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

Interesting. Does anyone else think that 2016 could be the year that a third party, preferably a centrist one, might finally have a legitimate shot at the White House? OK, actually it would be 2017, but you get the idea.

#19 Comment By John Dorman On June 27, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

It is said that a cardinal who walks into a Sistine chapel conclave imagining he might become the next Pope will always emerge as a cardinal, and in a democracy nothing is more toxic to a politician’s chances of attaining high office than a halo of invincibility.

#20 Comment By Lord Karth On June 27, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

Given that the entire “entitlements” edifice may well come crashing down (along with the economy as a whole) during the second term of whoever winds up elected in 2016, one wonders why anyone would want to run the risk of being in the hot seat when the music stops.

Not that it will matter much; the economic (and later social) Meltdown is already baked in the cake. The main issue of interest remaining, it seems, is when Gotterdammerung actually hits.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

#21 Comment By David Naas On June 27, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

Fran Macadam — Your comment reminded me of Wm. F. Buckley of blessed memory, “I would rather be governed by the first 2000 people in the Manhattan phone book than the entire faculty of Harvard.”
Or the entire number of Republican and Democratic politicians in DC.
“They couldn’t do woise.”

#22 Comment By Sheldon On June 27, 2014 @ 6:54 pm

RadicalCenter, first, I don’t consider Rand Paul a viable candidate in today’s Republican Party, and second, he is a Tea Partier, and most of his views – marijuana (as if that matters) and foreign entanglements aside – are indeed to the right of the American mainstream.

#23 Comment By Ampersand On June 27, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

I’ll vote for Hillary if she’s the candidate, but I’d prefer someone more populist and anti-war.

As for Scott Walker…well, I think he’s about to go through what Chris Christie is still going through.

#24 Comment By IntelliWriter On June 27, 2014 @ 7:59 pm

The GOP has lost minorities, women, and gays. Unless a majority of the electorate opts to stay home, you may as well get out the welcome mat for Madame President Clinton.

#25 Comment By John Blade Wiederspan On June 27, 2014 @ 9:54 pm

Does anyone remember the carnival of characters running for the GOP presidential primary the last two times? Does anyone want to remember the eight years of George W. Bush? I thought Hillary would beat Obama and win the general. I still believe she would have made a better president. She will get a second chance and in spite of her faults, she will be elected. Where is the GOP of Nixon, Nunn, Rudman, Rockefeller, Dirksen, Hagel, Eisenhower, Goldwater? McCain/Palin? What the hell happened?

#26 Comment By Ken T On June 28, 2014 @ 9:08 am

“Does anyone else think that 2016 could be the year that a third party, preferably a centrist one, might finally have a legitimate shot at the White House? ”

The simple fact is that the entire electoral setup of the US is made to default to a two-party system. Like it or not, that’s the way it is unless and until we change the Constitution to make it a parliamentary system with proportional representation and coalition majorities. Any talk of a third party rising up to break through is nonsense. It can’t happen. When the Republicans replaced the Whigs, the Whigs had already imploded and become non-viable. By the time they won an election, the Rs were no longer the third party, they were already the second.

The only way a new party has a chance in 2016 is if 2014 is so disastrous to the Rs that they go the way of the Whigs before 2016.