There are four words that even the most devoted Clinton haters probably never want to have to utter again -- the Rose Law Firm. And there is one word that, after eight years, even the most committed Bush haters will grow tired of -- Halliburton.
The Rose Law Firm was Hillary Clinton's firm back in Arkansas that was the focus of a little criminal activity and a lot of obsessive right-wing conspiracy-mongering. Halliburton is the former Dick Cheney energy firm that Democrats in Congress will spend the next two years investigating and that has been a swear word for Bush critics all along. Both entities represent, more than anything else, the putrid partisanship and malicious monomania that have characterized the 14, going on 16, years of the Clinton-Bush era.
After all this, who doesn't hunger for a clean break? Thus the energy behind the possible presidential bid of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. He is the only presidential candidate from either party about whom there is a palpable excitement. And that is because everything about him says, "I'm not a Bush, I'm not a Clinton, and can we please talk about something else?"
It will be manifestly good for the country if it elects a president in 2008 who doesn't elicit yowling hatred from the other side. Hillary Clinton probably will, and that's a mark against her. Perhaps there's an element of blackmail here, as if conservatives are saying, "Don't nominate her, because we'll hate her but good." But even on the left there's a certain weariness with Clinton. A liberal friend of mine says when he mentions Hillary in the course of talking about 2008 to audiences, there's always skeptical grumbling in the room. Some liberals don't think she can win; others think she compromises too much.
Hillary would have formidable assets in a 2008 race, but the timing could be against her. Maybe it's too soon for another Clinton in presidential politics. On the Republican side, the most talented and accomplished Republican officeholder in the country, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is sitting '08 out precisely because of the baggage that currently attaches to his last name.