To Run or Not to Run, That Is the Question

If the latest poll from ABC News and The Washington Post is any indication, Hillary Clinton is one of the most popular political figures in the country. Sixty-seven percent of Americans have a positive view of the Secretary of State, former senator, and former first lady. Twenty-six percent hold a negative opinion, and only six percent say they have no thoughts on Clinton. All of which means, to many pundits, that she'd have a cakewalk into the White House in 2016. 

Before we begin a second premature coronation for the potential presidential candidate, however, it’s worth noting that Clinton's popularity is a partial function of her remove from partisan politics. She wasn’t at all involved in the presidential campaign, and while she belongs to a Democratic administration, she's spent the last four years representing the interests of the nation writ large.

But as we saw this afternoon with the testimony over last year’s incident in Benghazi, where American diplomats were killed after the embassy was stormed by militant, Clinton could lose that popularity—and fast—if she were to re-enter the realm of everyday politics. Benghazi has become a locus for conservative conspiracies, and GOP senators devoted their time in the hearing to relentless grandstanding and castigating their former colleague.

If Clinton decides to run for president and dip into the political waters for the first time in 8 years, odds are good that she will inspire a frenzy of attacks and accusations from the GOP. Her popularity will dip, and she’ll become just another partisan figure. Indeed, it’s for that reason I’m skeptical Clinton will run. There are far worst things than to end your long career in public service with a successful stint as America’s top diplomat and the adoration of the public. —Jamelle Bouie 

So They Say

“If they decide that mental health are reasons to deny people their constitutional rights, it’s a short step from there to identifying us, Christians, genuine followers of Jesus Christ who believe the Bible and what it teaches … as mentally ill. Guns are going to be taken away from us.”

 —Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association

Daily Meme: Rewinding the Guard

  • Obama may be soaking up the final honeymoon rays of his presidential career this week, but for his vice president and secretary of state, his second term is already old news. Time to start planning the next campaign!
  • Joe Biden got off to a great start during the grand festivities on Monday, stealing the spotlight from his boss by being his criminally charismatic self. As Wonkette notes, "Sunglasses are a very good look for the VP, whose official Wonkette title is now Old Handsome Joe Biden, God Love Him."
  • His former aide, Ted Kauffman told him "that he should sit down and consider 2016. When you look around, most people who get elected president are incumbent presidents or incumbent vice presidents." Hey, he's right!
  • Politico found someone to say that Biden was "intoxicated" by the idea of 2016, leading to an article replete with barely concealed glee at the chance to write about not just 2016, but the 2008 and 2012 race too! A trifecta of horse races, the things Politico dreams are made of.
  • Not to mention The Onion's dreams too. 
  • But don't forget Hillary Clinton! She and Biden together make up the top of the Democrats' presidential primary wish list, and today was her day to shine—sort of.
  • She faced a grilling over Benghazi on the Hill today, and owned a few Tea Partiers in the process, proving once again that when it comes to politicking, she is one of the best
  • But ... all of this feels oddly familiar. Haven't we done this before? "The Democratic field now emerging, on the other hand, is looking a lot like Gladys Knight and the Pips—and you can guess who gets to be Gladys. The party's insiders, expecting Clinton to be a virtually unstoppable force, seem to be falling in line behind her, which means there will be only so much additional money and organization left over for those who would challenge her." This is true—but it's also from 2006.
  • Truthfully, we still have no idea what the 2016 race will look like, but given who's generating the most buzz right now, Obama might just be handing the reins to those he took them from in the first place.  

What We're Writing

  • E.J. Graff gets into the details of how legalized contraception and abortion paved the way for LGBT marriage rights.
  • Gershom Gorenberg analyzes the Israeli elections, in which Netanyahu both won and lost. 

What We're Reading

  • John Cassidy asks, what kind of liberal is Obama? "An increasingly crafty one."
  • Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has approved plans for his state's part of the Keystone XL. Now it's up to the President to see if the pipeline poses a threat to his inaugural promises on climate change.
  • Wendy Kaminer notes that Obama's "liberal" inauguration speech had nothing to say about civil liberties.
  • Mary Elizabeth Williams asks: Does believing life begins at conception mean you can't be pro-choice?
  • Sixteen years ago, Steve Stockman was the wing-nuttiest freshman in Congress. Now he's back, and stark-raving crazy as ever. 
  • The Atlantic has a nifty chart to show how many and how much states have been cutting their higher education funding. We may be taking 'ignorance is bliss' too literally.

Poll of the Day

Rasmussen finds that slightly more people (41 percent to 31 percent) understand that eliminating income taxes in favor of higher sales taxes, à la Bobby Jindal's plan, would be bad for everyone but the very rich and absolutely terrible for the poor. Twenty-eight percent found themselves unsure, which, we suppose, is some kind of progress.

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