In his latest offering, John Avlon seems to inadvertently capture why Hillary Clinton’s prospects don’t match the optimistic buzz.
As Avlon correctly implies, Hillary’s most excited constituency consists of aging second wave feminists, who “want to see her in the White House so they can die happy.”
And he accurately notes that she has transformed herself into a broadly popular politician. But one wonders how long that will last once the campaign begins.
To be sure, Hillary has increased her stature, as Avlon writes, “the old-fashioned way—through hard work.”
Unfortunately for Hillary, the public doesn’t hire presidents the way an employer might hire an employee.
The public doesn’t really compare resumes. If we did, George H. W. Bush and/or Bob Dole would have defeated Bill Clinton. The public bets on the future more than we reward the past.
And this is an obvious problem for Hillary. Keep in mind, the public also turned out Winston Churchill after he led them through World War II. More recently, the public chose an upstart named Barack Obama over then-Sen. Hillary Clinton and a statesman and war hero named Sen. John McCain.
We tend to choose the hot new thing over the tried-and-true commodity.
In short, the public are short-sighted and fickle a**holes. They wait until the loyal and dedicated public servant puts them through through med school before filing for divorce and taking up with the proverbial nurse.
Ironically, this is the reason Hillary Clinton is famous to begin with. Her husband was once that hot young thing, chosen over men who had paid their dues.
So consider this: Having passed the torch to a new generation of leaders, will the American public really be willing to go backwards — back to a politician formed during the bitter political divides of the 1960s?
Or will we decide to marry ourselves to someone younger?
(This isn’t just about age, though that’s a factor. Hillary Clinton would be essentially the same age Reagan was when he became president. Of course, he was the oldest president, and age was an issue. But the bigger problem isn’t her age, it’s that she’s old news. Hillary has been in the public eye for more than two decades now.)
One could imagine a scenario where a young leader like Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, or Paul Ryan would provide a stark contrast to the Baby Boomer Clinton. If one of them wins the nomination, the question will be whether we want to build “a bridge to the future or a bridge to the past?”
Rubio or Jindal could be especially problematic. Since both candidacies would be “historic,” we could expect the “war on women” meme to be ratcheted up to the point it makes 2012 look like child’s play.
We like shiny new things, and Hillary Clinton is a lot of things, but shiny and new are not among them.
It may be that she is destined to be scorned.