Would Hillary clear the field?

Tod Lindberg wonders whether a Hillary Clinton candidacy would “clear the field” of serious Democratic alternatives in the 2016 presidential race. He doubts that it would, and so do I.

For one thing, Clinton, eight years older than in 2008 and a loser that year, possesses less of an aura of invincibility than she did when she failed to clear the field the last time. For another, potential challengers have reason to doubt that the Party’s powerful left wing is sold on Clinton. Maybe it is, but there likely will be at least one Democrat of stature or political ability who is ambitious enough to put this to a test, as Barack Obama did.

Then there is Benghazi. The culpability of Clinton and her State Department in that tragedy is well-known but underappreciated.

For me, the intriguing question is whether a Democrat will feel he or she can get mileage from Clinton’s scandalous Benghazi-related conduct — which includes post-incident actions — with the kind of folks who vote in Democratic primaries and caucuses. And, assuming that this issue holds promise, would a potential challenger to Clinton be willing to play the spoiler by taking a line of attack that might alienate both women and leftists?

Maybe Joe Biden, who knows where the bodies are buried, will believe he has enough credibility with the left to raise Benghazi as an issue against Clinton. But this would be a tricky proposition, to say the least.

So maybe Benghazi won’t induce Democrats to challenge Clinton. But we shouldn’t conclude at this stage that other inducements will prove inadequate.


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