How's about You and Him Fight?

Hillary Clinton has about a year and a half before she needs to make the final decision on whether she'll run for president in 2016. Between now and then, and after she becomes an actual candidate (if she does), we're going to be seeing an awful lot of stories that read as though an editor said to a reporter, "Give me a story about Hillary turning her back on Barack, and the two camps sniping at each other," and the reporter replied, "Well, I haven't seen much evidence of that, but I'll see what I can come up with." That gets you stuff like a piece in today's Washington Post, under the headline, "In the Clintons' talk of brokering compromise, an implicit rebuke of Obama years." Let's get to the stinging barbs Hillary and Bill are aiming at the President:

In recent stump speeches and policy remarks, Bill and Hillary Clinton have offered sharp criticisms of the partisan gridlock paralyzing Washington, signaling a potential 2016 campaign theme if Hillary Clinton chooses to run for president.

The Clintons' critiques in recent days have been explicitly aimed at congressional Republicans, who helped spur a 16-day government shutdown and potential debt default in October. But their remarks also seem to contain an implicit rebuke of President Obama's failure to change Washington as he pledged when first running for the White House.

The arguments suggest a way that Hillary Clinton could attempt to run in 2016 as an agent of change — potentially putting her at odds with the two-term Democrat she would be seeking to replace.

So her "implicit rebuke of President Obama's failure to change Washington" is ... criticism of Republicans? And if Hillary Clinton says she wants to see everyone work across the aisle to solve problems, that's some kind of slap in Obama's face? Well that's odd, since Obama ran for president saying he wanted to bring Democrats and Republicans together, just like George W. Bush did before him (remember "I'm a uniter, not a divider"?), and Bill Clinton did before him. It's what every presidential candidate says, even the most partisan ones.

I don't imagine that Clinton thinks Obama has been a perfect president, and I'm sure there are things she thinks she could have done better than him. But there is going to an endless stream of stories like this one, trying to gin up some kind of dramatic struggle between the two, full of anger and recrimination and Machiavellian machinations, all based on nothing but the barest wisps of evidence. It's driven by the journalist's endless need to frame stories around conflict, their preference for writing about personality, and the fact that if you're going to write a story about the 2016 campaign three years before the actual election, you don't have a lot of material to work with. But give me a break.

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