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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Republicans Think Hillary Is Looking Unbeatable? Really?



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I saw this story, and my instinct was, “Really?”

What many conservatives regard as the nightmare scenario — President Hillary Rodham Clinton — is increasingly seen by veteran Republican politicians and strategists as virtual inevitability.

In GOP circles, the Democratic front-runner is seen as so strong, and the political climate for Republicans so hostile, that many influential voices — including current and former lawmakers, and veterans of President Bush’s campaigns — have grown despairing. These partisans describe a political equivalent of the stages of grief, starting with denial, then resentment and ending with acceptance.

For now, these Republicans say the party needs good luck, including a change of fortune in Iraq, and a revival of organization and leadership in the conservative movement to avert another Clinton presidency.

“If the conservative movement and Republicans don’t understand how massive the Clinton coalition is, she will be the next president,” former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said in an interview last week, after giving a private talk to GOP lawmakers. Clinton will win, he added, “if we don’t use everything available to us and motivate our base, the people that believe in us.”

Really?

I may be completely wrong. I don’t doubt that Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, and that Democrats start this cycle with an advantage. I don’t doubt that come Election Day 2008, the country will be ready for a new direction, and they will be very tempted to see the Democratic nominee as the better choice for a new direction.

But I’m going to echo the thoughts of a smart Republican strategist-type who said not long ago that the country would have to be “dragged kicking and screaming into a Hillary Clinton presidency.” The country has seen furious partisan passions raging since… impeachment? The 1992 campaign? I mean, think about it – the tooth-and-claw 2000 campaign, the Florida recount, the Jeffords switch, 9/11, the neck-and-neck 2002 campaign, the Florida recount, the long and angry 2004 campaign, and then last year’s long, angry, mudslinging, expensive, noisy midterm elections. A Hillary Clinton presidency means, in all likelihood, that the Republican base will be as angry and loud and outraged as the Democratic base has been these past six years and change. Another four to eight years for this exhausting, disillusioning  scream-a-thon.

Americans are tired of it. Politics are not supposed to take up so much of our attention and energy. Our political leaders are supposed to be competent and a little bit boring. Thus the boomlets of enthusiasm for Obama, and to a lesser extent, McCain and Giuliani – they all come across as guys you can respect, even if you don’t always agree with them.

A President Hillary comes with a significant amount of baggage – not least of which is named Bill – and I think that when the campaign begins in earnest, a lot of voters are going to look at her and ask, “Am I ready for another four years of this?”


Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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