The "new" Hillary Clinton, branded "Hillary 2.0" by some political pundits, seems at first blush the same Hillary Clinton of Bill Clinton's presidency and of her unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid. But conservatives who bemoan the years of Barack Obama must carefully consider how they approach Ms. Clinton in 2016.
Consider it a given that most voters inclined to vote Republican are adamantly opposed to a Hillary Clinton presidency. Any Republican candidate would be preferable to four or eight years of another Clinton presidency, right?
Yes, but here is where the strategic part of this analysis comes into play.
Consider the possibility that the GOP nominates another lackluster candidate for president such as a John McCain or Mitt Romney. In other words, a sure-fire loser.
I've made the argument before that in such an instance, conservatives should be praying she wins her party's nomination and with as little real opposition as well. Why? Because there is more than enough enmity and ill will between the Clintons and President Obama to basically guarantee a wholesale replacement of the president's administration and a rework of many of his policies. Obama's lukewarm reaction to her announcement of recent days merely ads to this theory.
If Clinton can win her nomination without the liberal wing of her party ambushing her with another "inspiring" leftist, as was the case in 2008, Ms. Clinton could bide her time until the November election and at the very least move her center-left party more to a center-left-but-pro-USA position. It's not much, but it would be better than what we have today.
If, like most conservatives, you simply can't stomach the possibility of Hillary 2.0 as the "default program" for 2016, then even more strategic thought is required.
Jeb Bush would likely be the one candidate capable of raising the money and putting together the strongest "establishment"-backed campaign against Hillary Clinton. It would be more than likely that a Bush-Clinton faceoff would result in a national deadlock, where a few swing states and their late-night final vote tallies would determine the outcome in November 2016.
In a sense, that's the safest route to avoid Hillary 2.0 because it makes the final tip of the political jump ball in the last second of the game for the White House competitive -- something Republicans have not witnessed in a long time.
But the Clinton versus Bush match-up appears to be gaining little excitement from Republican voters, hungry not only for a win but, to steal Mr. Obama's slogan, "change they can believe in."
Yes, Rand Paul is the dark horse candidate. And Ted Cruz is the likely early evangelical choice. Dr. Ben Carson could become the unique outsider, a softer spoken Herman Cain of the GOP contest. And the list goes on and on. Chris Christie would "bust up the joint," but his style and positions might not fly in more traditional Republican areas of the country.
Rick Perry could be resurrected as a more articulate bespectacled candidate this go-around. And Rick Santorum could wait in the wings and pick apart Cruz's evangelical support should Cruz out-debate himself at some point. Donald Trump could keep the entire process lively and with a shocking outcome.
But along with Bush, two GOP candidates emerge early on as the "anti-Hillary 2.0" leaders. Gov. Scott Walker has virtually nothing in common with Ms. Clinton. With Walker, there's no Ivy League connection lurking behind a facade of "I'm one of the people." In fighting for all he has gained in life, including taking on unions, Walker offers a tenacious contrast to Clinton.
And then there is Sen. Marco Rubio. Forever underestimated by the GOP establishment, Rubio contrasts with Hillary 2.0 in a unique manner. A youthful Hispanic senator with strong state legislative experience to boot, Rubio could go toe-to-toe with Clinton in debates and turn Clinton's ultra-wealthy circumstances into a strong case of hypocrisy.
But for those who want Clinton stopped at all costs, consider the price paid in 2008. That requires some real thought should the GOP blow it again in 2016. While Hillary 2.0 may seem contrived and certainly not a conservative's choice, she's no Barack Obama. And that's a redeeming quality these days.