Hillary Clinton’s book launch next week will make the invasion of Normandy look like an amateur operation. By the time the former U.S. secretary of state brings her pre-presidential road show-cum-book tour to Toronto and Edmonton the following week, she will likely have had more air time and ink in the previous fortnight than any active politician. Not bad for someone who is officially “undecided” about a return to politics.
We’re not exactly in the grips of Hillarymania. We get exhausted just thinking about Hillary and her high-maintenance husband. We’re not entirely sure the world needs any more Clinton than it has already had.
But the world is beyond bored with the current White House occupant. No one is expecting Barack Obama to accomplish much in his remaining time in office. So, the U.S. punditocracy, unchastened by the mistakes of 2008, has already moved on to discussing the contours of a Hillary presidency as if it’s a foregone conclusion.
How can the pundits resist when Tuesday’s roll out of Hard Choices – billed as Ms. Clinton’s account of her tenure at the State Department, but really a case study in how to frame a candidacy – is unanimously seen as a trial run for her second presidential bid.
In the first excerpt, published in Vogue in time for Mother’s Day, Ms. Clinton recounted the influence the late Dorothy Rodham had on her only daughter: “Never rest on your laurels. Never quit. Never stop working to make the world a better place. That’s our unfinished business.”
In the interview Ms. Clinton gave People magazine for this week’s cover story, she “opens up” about becoming a grandmother as Chelsea prepares to give birth this fall.
“Grandma-in-chief?” the magazine cheekily asks.
If the Vogue and People spreads were commissioned to humanize Hillary – women are her toughest critics – you could hardly have asked for better results.
Ms. Clinton tells People that she has “moved on” from the Monica Lewinsky scandal and didn’t read the former intern’s recent article in Vanity Fair, in which she recounts the road travelled since her “consensual relationship” with Bill Clinton almost two decades ago. But Hillary didn’t need to read it. Some Republicans suggest her minions may have helped write it, so as to get Monica “out of the way” before the campaign.
Whether Monica, politically speaking, even matters any more is debatable. What’s not in doubt is that the controversy surrounding the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, haunts Hillary still. If anything could derail her coronation in 2016 it is growing public suspicion of a cover-up.
Last week, Politico obtained another excerpt from Hard Choices that was leaked, almost all of Washington agrees, by Team Hillary itself. The chapter seeks to defang Republican attack dogs who are holding another (their ninth) congressional inquiry into Benghazi. Students of Ms. Clinton will recognize in the chapter her preferred defence when cornered – shaming her critics.
“I will not be part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans,” she writes. “It’s just plain wrong and unworthy of our great country.”
Benghazi aside, the deluge of Hillary coverage that is about to hit us will be incidental to whether she would be a good president. She has by now so established her persona, not even her haters doubt she would.
As she writes in the preface to her book: “I wrote it for anyone anywhere who wonders whether the United States still has what it takes to lead. For me, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes.’ ”
She’s tough. She’s effective. She’s scary smart. She’s unflappable. She’s even likeable, not just “likeable enough” as Mr. Obama once devastatingly offered.
The fact that she befriended her standoffish former rival – as secretary of state she was a consummate team player, even when he spurned her advice – attests to her people skills. No one doubted Mr. Obama when, last week, he quipped: “Hillary and I, we’re buddies.”
There is no other potential presidential candidate in either party who comes near her in the polls. Though that could change as voters are forced to seriously contemplate her baggage, Americans don’t seem to be suffering from Hillary fatigue yet.
If they survive the publicity for Hard Choices, they probably never will.