As Bush's Republican coalition begins to fray, the Democrats can look forward to the 2008 presidential election with confidence. Conventional wisdom says Hillary Clinton is too liberal to take the White House. Conventional wisdom is wrongby Carl M Cannon / December 17, 2005 / Leave a comment
In 1978, while covering California politics, I found myself on election night at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, which was serving as a kind of election central. Waiting for the returns to come in, I was sitting in the lobby having a drink with my father Lou—who, then as now, was the leading expert on Ronald Reagan. As if on cue, the former actor and ex-California governor came striding into the hotel. Even then Reagan looked the part: wide-shouldered, flanked by a security detail, sporting his trademark blue serge suit, every black hair in place. The only thing missing, I thought, was the marine corps band.
No one back east took Reagan seriously. Despite a devoted following among what were then known as Goldwater Republicans, the Washington cognoscenti casually dismissed Reagan as too conservative, too old, a B-movie actor who once played second fiddle to a chimpanzee. “Who does he think he is?” I asked my dad. “The president of the United States?”
“No,” came the reply. “He thinks he’s the next president of the United States.” After a pause, he added, “And he might be.”
I remember that vignette every time a political sage says authoritatively that Hillary Rodham Clinton will “never” be president.
If you “know” Clinton can’t be president, you’re a member of the Washington in-crowd. If you don’t, you’re a boob from the sticks. You know the rap: she’s too liberal, too polarising; women don’t think much of her marriage—or her, for staying in it; men feel threatened by her feminism. Too much baggage. Too… Clinton.
And these are Democrats talking. Bizarrely, the party’s insiders are going out of their way to tear down the credentials and prospects of one of their rare superstars. With some exceptions, the journalistic pack seems nearly as negative about Hillary Clinton’s chances.
Conservatives (and liberals) would consider it heresy to compare Ronald Reagan and Hillary Clinton. And Reagan is certainly a hard act to follow. He combined Main Street sensibilities and a soothing Middle America persona with an uplifting vision of America’s place in the world that earned him a decisive victory in 1980—and almost 60 per cent of the vote when he ran for re-election four years later. Hillary Clinton is a more polarising figure in more polarised times. Yet Clinton, like Reagan, can lay claim to the passions of die-hard grassroots members of her party.…