Jonah Goldberg

Hillary Clinton is in a pickle. She's a shoe-in for her party's presidential nomination because of Barack Obama's failures. But those failures might keep her from getting the job. Her husband's "law of politics" is that elections are always about the future, but she's stuck in the past.

In 2008, Obama pandered to liberal hopes while Clinton appealed to their good sense. Obama promised miracles and magic. Clinton promised more homework.

"Cynicism" was Obama's real opponent, he explained. And he used Clinton as a stand-in for it. She played her part, pointing out that the Civil Rights Act got through Congress because of LBJ's hard work, not Martin Luther King's speeches. She insisted that politics was toil, not performance art.

And, as we have learned from a president who so often thinks giving a speech is a substitute for solving a problem, she had the better argument. One need only look at the reaction from Democrats to President Obama's handling of the VA scandal to see that even they would trade some inspirational claptrap for a bit more old-fashioned competence.

That attitude helps Clinton immensely. Burned by disappointment, many liberals want to vote with their heads, not their hearts, this time around.

And the Hillary Industrial Complex is ready to exploit that sentiment. The HIC is the vast network of loyalists, retreads, activists, pols, hacks, fans (in and out of the press), Friends of Bill and, of course, Friends of Hillary who want to see a Clinton restoration. They are waiting for her to run like 19th century land speculators anticipating news that the railroad will go past their lots. Would you want to be left with 500,000 "Ready for Hillary" bumper stickers in your garage? (It's a solid rule of business that you've made a poor investment if a Hillary Duff comeback is your Plan B.)

The Hillary Industrial Complex must be an awesomely hard thing to say no to. It would feel like telling your royal entourage, after years of buildup, that you're going to decline the throne and live a quiet life in the country. These remoras are counting on her, not just for jobs and access but for vindication; "We were right to back Hillary from the beginning!"

Alas, leaning on your entourage for advice is never a great idea. They may think Clinton would be a fresh start, but will normal voters not similarly invested in her? Americans almost never reward a party with a third consecutive term in the White House, and when they do, it's because they want more of the same. Anyone want to wager on how much of a "more of the same" mood America will be in come 2016?


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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