There are a great many Republicans who laugh when you suggest that Hillary Clinton is the likely Democratic nominee in 2008. Their incredulity only deepens if you intimate that she could win. They are so vehement in their detestation of all things Clinton that the idea seems almost kooky to them.
That is the first myth John Podhoretz seeks to puncture in his highly informative and lively call to arms, "Can She Be Stopped?" Yes, it's true; Hillary would enter the race burdened by a 40 percent disapproval number. But Podhoretz argues that in today's polarized climate, any nominee of either party will wind up with 40 percent of the electorate disliking him/her long before Election Day. In fact, if Hillary's unpopularity among Republicans leads to frothing attacks on her, it could even work to her advantage as Democrats rally round the object of Republican disdain.
Is she too liberal? Podhoretz argues that she is positioning herself (with a big assist from the liberal media) as a centrist. This explains all of that sweet talk about seeking "common ground on abortion," talking tough on violence in video games, and most important, voting in favor of the Iraq War and subsequent military appropriations. These, Podhoretz asserts, are shams. "I submit that the senator is the Trojan Horse and real Hillary is inside, waiting to burst through and alter the course set by George W. Bush." But though she is a liberal -- her voting record is a near perfect 96 percent from the liberal Americans For Democratic Action – this does not by any means ensure her defeat. Podhoretz reminds us that between them, Ralph Nader and Al Gore received 53.8 million votes, 3 million more than George W. Bush and Pat Buchanan together received in the 2000 election.
Can a woman be elected president? It depends entirely on how womanly she is. I agree with Podhoretz that Hillary's particular manner -- flat, declarative, "steely" -- is stylistically just right for (God forbid) the first woman president.
Can the country tolerate four more years of the Clinton soap opera? Podhoretz offers a creative story line in which the older and wiser Clintons profit from scandal fatigue. He poses but does not answer the intriguing question: Can the monumental egotist Bill Clinton accept a supporting role for an entire campaign? And there is another uncertainty -- does Bill Clinton truly and unequivocally want his wife to succeed?