Hillary’s Got Game

It’s official: my fair state’s Junior Senator (with whom I share a birthday… us and Leon Trotsky, btw) Hillary Clinton has announced that she is forming an exploratory committee to run for President of the United States. Obviously, she would be the first woman and first former First Lady to be elected to the Presidency, should she prevail. And right now, she immediately steps in as the prohibitive favorite to win her own party’s nomination, and given the likely train-wreck the current President Bush will leave where the Republican Party once stood, whomever the Democrat is will be in a strong position against whomever the Republican is.
So… there we have it. Hillary has what I’ll call “the Howard Cosell factor”– i.e., in his day, ABC sportscaster Howard Cosell was one of the most well-known men in America, with almost total name recognition, and everyone having not merely an opinion of him, but a strong opinion of him, and more had a negative opinion than a favorable one. Which pretty much sums up Hillary as well. She already has total name recognition. Which is her principle advantage, and disadvantage. Plus, there won’t be very many new “revelations” about her– she and her husband President Clinton have already been thoroughly through the wash and rinse cycle with the press, that… there’s nothin’ there.
Activist Dems will have to reconcile her pro-war stance and the fact that she isn’t a liberal (not even a little) with the fact that the Rove machine will paint her as the “uber-liberal.” As always, the perfect is the enemy of the good. We’ll see: Warner, Feingold and Bayh have already bowed out, just at the prospect of her getting in. John Edwards, I’m afraid, has had his shot… I just don’t see what he brings to the table now. In 2004, the fact that he was from North Carolina was, IMHO, enough of a reason to support him, which is why I did (and had only the Iowans changed their votes by 5 or 6 thousand caucusgoers and gone for him instead of Kerry, he’d now be the President). But Bush has sea-changed politics: now a Northern perceived-liberal probably can get elected President. While Dixie will hold firm for anyone it feels reflects its traditional (read “crypto-racist”) values… the rest of the country has had it with them. And with a Democratic governor there, the odds of a clean and fair election in critical Ohio have skyrocketed.
So… with the field open for a possible win by the Democrats, the Democratic candidate now matters a great deal. Selecting today for her announcement, precisely two years before the inauguration of our next President in 2009, is hardly a coincidence; also– Obama announced a couple of days ago, and he has been getting a lot of attention with it. So, Hillary had to do something quickly, and she did. Honestly, she, like her husband President Clinton, is a master of positioning and of these kind of tactics; we’ll see how this plays out.
The wild-card in the deck right now is Al Gore; so far, though, his current presidential ambitions are enigmatic. (He could do worse than to be this President Clinton’s Vice-President, in charge of a broad energy and climate change and domestic restructuring portfolio… just saying…)
Well… game ON.
Update: Bill Richardson, now governor of New Mexico and formerly a member of Congress and Bill Clinton’s envoy and U.N. Ambassador… is in, too (hat tip to Barbara of Mahablog.)