I write this week from New Orleans, where I am participating in the Bipartisan Policy Center's Inaugural Political Summit, organized by Tom Daschle, Howard Baker and Bob Dole and hosted by Mary Matalin and James Carville.
The conference has assembled about 20 top Democratic and Republican political strategists and operatives and has asked us to assess how we might take the poison out of partisanship (which is, admittedly, rather like asking a convention of foxes how to advance the interests of chickens). In the process, we have been asked to consider how the next presidential campaign is shaping up. It's a little early, you might think, but in fact, in less than 18 months, both parties' presidential aspirants will be organizing their primary campaigns.
The Republican primary field is obviously wide open, but it struck me that the Democratic Party's potential aspirants really are already down to two. Obviously, the president will be one of them, and if things aren't going so well for him by the spring of 2011, his only plausible challenger would be Hillary Clinton.
She made a recent obligatory denial of interest in running for president, but such denials are not taken seriously. After all, both the current president and the previous Democratic president flatly denied having any intention of running yet cheerfully turned up to take their oaths of office promptly thereafter.
Only God knows what will happen to America in the next year and a half (and he hasn't told me), but it is not implausible that by 2012, the Democratic Party will see Hillary Clinton's nomination as its best chance for keeping the White House.
Of course, if the economy comes booming back, unemployment is cut in half and there are no foreign policy disasters, President Barack Obama surely will get an unopposed nomination and probably his re-election. But if current estimates are right, that unemployment still may be close to double digits at the end of next year -- and particularly if foreign affairs go badly -- Hillary just might be the one.
It seems odd that a failed foreign policy might be the basis for a president's secretary of state to replace him on the presidential ticket, but it is beginning to set up that way.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.