In the world according to Hillary Clinton the Democratic nomination process should be over by now. The plan was simple: out-fundraise and out-organize her opponents. Earn enough delegates after Super Tuesday to coast to the summer convention. It was all inevitable. She had the experience, the name recognition, the political skill to win the White House in November and make history along the way. Didn’t work out that way — even for the Clintons.
Two individuals stood in her way Senator Barack Obama and President George Bush.
The impact of Senator Obama is well known and well documented. On January 3, 2008, he won the Iowa caucuses and the Clinton aura of inevitability vanished. But well before then, February 19, 2000 to be precise, then Governor George Bush may have sealed her fate. On that date he trounced Senator John McCain in the South Carolina primary — after a dirty, vicious campaign — and clinched the Republican nomination. The following January he was sworn in as president.
President Bush’s policies and politics makes it likely the Democratic nominee will win in November. It’s the very existence of a second President George Bush that makes it less likely the nominee will be President Hillary Clinton. That’s because her election would mean two families will have occupied the Oval Office for a minimum of 24 years — and, conceivably, for 28 years. It means she’s running as the candidate of change when the Bush family and the Clinton clan have served as president of two decades.
If we were finishing the second term of the McCain Administration the dynamics would be substantially different. First, the country would likely be in much better shape. Second, another Clinton presidency would be considered in a different context. That’s because there’s something worse about two families holding the nation’s highest office over 20 consecutive years than one family having the presidency twice. I don’t think it’s just a matter of counting years, either. It’s keeping the presidency within two families that doesn’t feel right to voters. There’s a fatigue factor involved. There’s a sense of “enough of the Hatfields and McCoys, let’s give someone else a turn.” It’s time for a change.
And after Presdient Bush the younger, people want change. Senator Obama has tapped into that resevoir of momentum and is a win in Texas or Ohio away from earning the Democratic nomination. Change doesn’t mean returning Bill and Hillary Clinton to the White House. All the billboards and campaign signs in the world won’t change that.
Voters get it. They see Senator Obama and see change. They look at Senator Clinton and see a dynasty (and are reminded of a second). Senator Obama represents the 21st century; Senator Clinton the 1990’s. Senator Obama is about moving forward. Senator Clinton isn’t.