Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Hillary's potential path to 2016

This blog backed Hillary Clinton during the last US Presidential election campaign, even though Barack Obama was the clear favourite among many liberals here and in the US. There is no doubt that Obama's election was a remarkable historic occasion. He has also - after some flapping - delivered on some key policy objectives like health care. He has also made imaginative appointments to some top jobs, including the Supreme Court (and the Secretary of State). But what is remarkable is that he has also managed - not entirely due to the combined wackos of Fox News and the Tea Party movement - to lose so much of the goodwill that greeted his election.

Obama lacks the emotion expected of US commanders in chief - which may endear him to many in Europe, but doesn't work in domestic crises - and has a surprising unsureness of touch whether it is in handling the BP crisis where he has gained no credit for forcing them to establish a £20bn fund to help victims of the oil leak or on selling his health or banking reforms to a wider electorate. He has been better on policy delivery than might have been anticipated - but far worse at presentation and selling his policies. And that matters in politics.

Despite being a largely disorganised affair with Sarah Palin their only recognisable figurehead, the Republicans are averaging a six-point lead in November's midterm elections. They are on course to make a net gain of six state governorships, could regain the House (despite a slight Democrat lead in generic polls) and reduce the Democrats' Senate majority considerably. And it has to be said that a big reason for their ability to do so is the inability of Obama to reach out to the electorate: the very criticisms that were made of him in states like Pennsylvania in the primaries now appear writ large on a national stage.

At the same time, Obama's decision to appoint Hillary Clinton has proved, despite her initial misgivings about accepting the post, to be a boon to her reputation. Her personal popularity is much higher than his, in excess of 60% and sometimes as high as 70% approval ratings. She has been loyal to a fault, and largely successful on the international stage. She is highly respected in the military: even today, with General McChrystal ranting to Rolling Stone about her White House colleagues, he gives Hillary a pass. Now there is serious talk of replacing the hapless Joe Biden as VP with Hillary, either after the midterms or for as an Obama running mate in 2012, allowing her to run for the top job in 2016. While such talk may be fanciful and speculative for now, the evidence is growing that it isn't just Bill who knows how to be the Comeback Kid.

1 comment:

Ross said...

As a long time student and observer of American politics, I agree with you. An Obama-Clinton ticket in 2012 would be pretty strong, wouldn't it?