My friend, David Brooks, does his best to reinforce the Hillary-Is-Inevitable consensus in Washington right now. He may regret this, though:
On "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," Clinton could have vowed to vacate Iraq. Instead, she delivered hawkish mini-speeches that few Republicans would object to. She listed a series of threats and interests in the region and made it clear that she’d be willing to keep U.S. troops there to handle them.
Then we hear this from a right-wing reporter with access to Bush:
[Josh] Bolten said Bush wants enough continuity in his Iraq policy that "even a Democratic president would be in a position to sustain a legitimate presence there."
"Especially if it's a Democrat," the chief of staff told The Examiner in his West Wing office. "He wants to create the conditions where a Democrat not only will have the leeway, but the obligation to see it out."
If Clinton is that comfortable with a permanent occupation of Iraq at this point in the election cycle, how comfortable do you think she's going to be next year? You think a politician so obsessed with gaining and wielding power is happy to relinquish any in the Middle East?
Patrick Ruffini draws the obvious conclusion:
Hillary is morphing into a George W. Bush Democrat. While that will draw heat from an increasingly desperate Obama, she will pay the price in the general election, not because she’s totally wrong, but because Democrat-inclined voters will smell something fishy about their gal acting like the one they’ve so long fantasized of kicking to the curb. And if she wins, the BushClintonBushClinton consensus will be back.
The conservative Washington Establishment is swooning for Hillary for a reason. The reason is an accommodation with what they see as the next source of power (surprise!); and the desire to see George W. Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq legitimated and extended by a Democratic president (genuine surprise). Hillary is Bush's ticket to posterity. On Iraq, she will be his legacy. They are not that dissimilar after all: both come from royal families, who have divvied up the White House for the past couple of decades. They may oppose one another; but they respect each other as equals in the neo-monarchy that is the current presidency. And so elite conservatives are falling over themselves to embrace a new Queen Hillary, with an empire reaching across Mesopotamia, a recently deposed court just waiting to return to the salons of DC, a consort happy to be co-president for another four years, and a back-channel to the other royal family. She'll even have more powers than Clinton I, because Cheney has given her back various royal prerogatives: arrests without charges, torture, wire-tapping, and spy-ware on your Expedia account. Only the coronation awaits.
Vivat! Vivat! Vivat Regina! Unless, of course, the coronation is happening just a little too soon.