Over the past year or so of punditry, I’ve made no secret of my belief that Hillary Clinton is the strongest candidate the Democrats can field in 2016, and certainly the candidate best-suited to keeping the Obama coalition more or less intact. I’ve also made it clear that I think she’s the near-inevitable nominee: That her strengths are so considerable and her party has become so disciplined that it’s unlikely-to-impossible to imagine a potent challenger emerging from the field of non-Clinton possibilities.
My views on these questions survived the first round of Clinton Foundation scandals and the State Department email affair, and they will probably survive all the newer Foundation revelations contained in Peter Schweizer’s looming book and my colleagues’ amplification thereof. Unlike lesser mortals (sorry, Chris Christie), the Clinton brand is built to withstand a nearly-endless string of appearance-of-impropriety scandals, and it will take something more than this to put Hillary’s political viability in real danger.
But these views are descriptive, analytic, coolly distant from the details. Prescriptively, after this cascade of sheer grossness, I think it should seriously embarrass liberals and Democrats, from the activists in Iowa all the way up to President Obama, if their party cannot manage to field at least one semi-serious challenger (no, not Lincoln Chafee) to Hillary Clinton and her donor-greased machine.
The Republican Party has its share of problems; indeed, it has more than its share. But for all its dynastic and plutocratic tendencies, even the seemingly-unbeatable dynast George W. Bush faced a sustained primary challenge in 2000, and the only real scenario in which I can imagine a Republican primary field being cleared this completely for a frontrunner involves a back-from-the-dead Ronald Reagan. And you know what? Even as a shambling revenant, Reagan would at least be able to take credit for a pretty impressive foreign policy record vis-a-vis the Russians, as opposed to the Hillary Clinton-led State Department’s impressive record of signing off on the sale of American uranium production to Russian interests … Russian interests that also just happened to regard the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation as a wonderful charitable concern in need of two million-odd dollars in donations.
Was this was just a classic case of “honest graft” rather than a more treasonous sort of corruption? Oh, no doubt: Nobody loves America more than the Clintons, surely, since after all America has given them so much.
But now one more thing they deserve to be given is an actual primary challenger. Not because the machine is likely to be beaten, not because the machine can’t win in November, but because Hillary Clinton and her court embody far too many of our elite’s besetting vices for a self-respecting political party — let alone a party called the democrats — to nominate her without some kind of fight.