There are other reasons to believe Bill does not want to wait until 2008. An observer who saw him work that black church in Los Angeles with Gray Davis found him "at the top of his game."
Is Bill the sort of patient, deferential fellow ready to wait five years, with all that can happen, before making history again by aiding his wife in the recapture of the White House, and thereby vindicating him? Does he really want to risk the possibility that Howard Dean, or another Democrat, could accomplish what he himself did in 1992: defeat a president thought to be unbeatable a year earlier?
If another Democrat is elected in 2004, Bill and Hill are history. For that president would eclipse Bill for the next four years and run for re-election in 2008, shouldering Hillary aside until 2012, when she would be 65 and Bill would be a senior citizen on full Social Security.
What would Hillary risk by exercising her female prerogative, changing her mind and running for the nomination?
Her reputation for ruthless ambition would be confirmed, and her credibility shredded. As she campaigned, radio and cable talk shows would be playing, with mocking regularity, her pledge not to run. It would be the political equivalent of George H.W. Bush's 1988 "Read-my-lips-no-new-taxes!" pledge, rerun again and again in '92.
Second, it would anger and alienate all those Democrats -- Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards -- who took Hillary at her word and ran on the assumption she would not get in. Supporters of Howard Dean, full of fire and passion, would see her entry as a "Stop Dean!" exercise, cheating them of a nomination they had virtually won.
Third, were Hillary to be crushed by George W. in 2004, the defeat might end all prospects of a run in 2008, which looks to be a better year for a Democrat.
Yet, whatever may be said against Hillary, the lady does not lack for nerve. Some of us thought she would never dare to try to become senator from a state where she had never lived.
Clinton-Clark in 2004? Not a bad bet, if you can get some odds.
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