While watching Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) squirm during the recent ‘Schumer Shutdown’ of the federal government, it occurred to me: what if Hillary Clinton had kept her Senate seat? She, not Schumer, would be the Senate Minority Leader. And she would be a major player in politics, instead of being reduced to a Tweeter who made a joke about Trump at the Grammy awards broadcast.
In my opinion, she would have beaten Harry Reid (D-NV) in 2007 for majority leader. In 2006, she won her second Senate term election easily, garnering 67 percent of the vote. When Democrats became the Senate majority party in 2007 and if she had been ambitious for a Senate career, she could have pushed Harry Reid aside. Antique customs like ‘seniority’ don’t apply to Hillary.
But immediately after her re-election, she switched her focus from the Senate to the White House. She lost the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, who, after the election, offered her the post of Secretary of State.
She accepted and left the Senate – this was her big mistake.
Quick: name something important Hillary during her four years at State. Unless one is State-obsessed, the answer will be: nothing – a fact she had to contend with on the 2016 campaign trail.
Her portrait, like John Kerry’s, gathers dust in the corridor wherever State hangs the portraits in its C Street headquarters.
If she had remained in the Senate, she would still be a powerful insider today.
Even if she couldn’t have taken the Majority Leader position away from Harry Reid, she could have overtaken Chuck Schumer last year for the Minority Leader slot. She could have used the optics of Democrats as the party of ‘women power’ or similar. Again, her lack of seniority wouldn’t matter.
Further, in the future she could have been Majority Leader whenever the Senate flips back to the Democrats (it’s inevitable).
It would have been a breeze for Hillary to keep her Senate seat and any Senate leadership post.
But she tossed her Senate opportunities aside, in her quest to capture the Presidency. Her husband Bill was president in the 1990s; she sought her chance to be the same.
Hillary has had her two opportunities to win the White House; it’s over for her. What can she be thinking as she looks over the current crop of wannabe nominees?
In November 2020, Senator Elizabeth Warren will be the youngest in the group, at age 71.
Bernie and Biden will be pushing 80 (ages 79 and 77 respectively; Biden will be age 78 two weeks after the election). John Kerry, also an ex-Senator and Hillary’s successor at the State Department will be (a relatively young) 76.
It’s all about Baby Boomers refusing to leave the stage. They’re political Mick Jaggers (age 74 and a great-grandfather).
Hillary, another Boomer, refused to leave the stage, so the stage left her. She walked away from a comfortable, powerful platform for aged politicians – the U.S. Senate.
Right now, she’s struggling to remain relevant while a third act in politics eludes her.
It would take a great act of humility for her to step back and help daughter Chelsea enter the political fray. History, however, demonstrates humility is not Hillary’s strong suit.
Sorry, Chelsea. Your chance may come when the Boomers are six feet under.
Joanne Butler is a graduate of the Kennedy School at Harvard, was a professional staff member (Republican) at the House Ways and Means Committee, and served in President George W. Bush’s administration. The Ghanaian poet, Kwesi Brew, has described her as ‘vibrant.’
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.