Hillary On Top

"Look guys, you're boring the hell out of me."

“Look guys, you’re boring the hell out of me.”

Here are two good rules of thumb.   When a president starts to work the list of who he wants serving in the Cabinet, it’s important to get the Secretary of State selection right.   Choose a great or at least a pretty good Secretary of State, and it doesn’t matter if the Secretary of Transportation or the Interior Department is a stiff.   Nobody remembers who ran the Labor Department for Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush and nobody cares either.

The other rule of thumb is the earlier a career politician denies any interest in running for the presidency the sooner you know they’re lying through their teeth.

Hillary Clinton was a pretty good Secretary of State and yes, she’s running for president in 2016.  This falls under the category of a stone-cold lock.    Her prospects were boosted by the four years of image rehabilitation she underwent as the globe trotting face of President Obama’s foreign policy.

She wants to be president.  She’s got the best resume in American politics (First Lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State) and whomever challenges  her is starting as second best.

After losing the Democratic nomination to the upstart, first-term Senator from Illinois, the Clinton brand had taken a terrible hit.   Hillary had run a lousy campaign and Bill, the so-called “first Black president” was stunned to be called out as a bigot for some of his remarks critical of Obama.    The internecine warfare between two of the brightest lights the Democrats had to offer held a distinct possibility of fracturing the party into two camps, the Obama camp that needed to call a ceasefire in hostilities in order to focus on beating John McCain and the Clinton camp that was angered by Obama’s hardball tactics and the none-too-subtle implication they were the only thing standing between Bill’s third term.

Nobody felt sorry for Hillary and Bill. They came into the 2008 campaign with every advantages. Money, name recognition, endorsements, party organization and the whole nine yards. And they got out-hustled, out-messaged, out-campaigned and just plain outwitted by somebody who learned The Clinton playbook and beat them at their own game.

Then Obama did something as smart as it was unexpected.  He asked his bitter rival to accept his invitation and serve in the hardest and most important position in his Administration.  Say what you will about the job of vice-president.   The most important trait for Joe Biden to show is loyalty.   Hillary Clinton had to demonstrate efficiency.

“This way to 2016, honey.”

Looking at the 60 Minutes exit interview Obama and Clinton held and the genuine affection and mutual respect they seem to have built over his first term, all the bad blood may not have been entirely forgotten, but it does seem to have been largely forgiven.

Last week Clinton sat for over five hours of grilling by House and Senate Republicans purportedly looking for answers of what the outgoing Secretary of State knew about the security lapses and the mistakes that led to four dead American embassy personnel in Benghazi including Ambassador Chris Stevens.   But it wasn’t just an inquiry for elected officials as it was also a chance for a few likely GOP presidential candidates to take shots at the early odds-on leader in the Democratic clubhouse.

Marco Rubio couldn’t lay a glove on Clinton.   Senators Rand “needs a better wig” Paul and Ron Johnson alternatingly baffled and annoyed her with their line of questioning.  Johnson, a Tea Party twit  from Wisconsin was so in over his head, he was tweaked by The Washington Post for “having the worst week.”

It was the Angry White Men on Capitol Hill vs. The Cooler Than Ice Clinton and she schooled them so badly all Angriest White Man of Them All, John McCain ran to Fox to whine over how the media was fawning over her performance.  Hey, Johnny, you do know there’s pills you can take when you have “performance issues.”   You need some Republican Viagra?

This is how you know how well-positioned Hillary is for 2016.  The GOP is already sharpening their blades trying to cut her down.

They’re going to need bigger and sharper knives.   You can’t buy the kind of positive p.r. Hillary Clinton is enjoying as she goes into a relatively brief political hibernation and she rests, recharges and begins to assemble the team and strategy she will need to follow the historic presidency of the nation’s first Black Chief Executive with the first woman to serve in that role.

The rehabilitation is over.  The reputation has been restored.    Clinton steps away from the spotlight knowing when she returns there isn’t another likely candidate with a resume of accomplishments or popularity to match her own.  Now she can take some time to write a book, make some money on the lecture circuit,  buy a whole new closet full of pantsuits and once she’s tanned, rested and ready, start laying the groundwork for achieving the dream she never quite gave up on.

Rivals turned allies?

Rivals turned allies?

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