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President Obama should declare he won't run for reelection so that the entire country -- left, right, and center -- can rally around the best 2012 Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, two Democratic pollsters argue in the latest op-ed to push the meme that conservatives are ready embrace Clinton. That's right, the same Clinton who, in the 1990s, inspired creepy nutcrackers shaped in her likeness, all kinds of conspiracy theories, not to mention the original "Obamacare": "Hillarycare."
In the Wall Street Journal, Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell make the remarkable argument that Obama should follow the example of Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson and decide not to run. (Democrats lost the White House both times). Obama should step aside not just because he might lose, but because if he did, Republicans would be more likely to compromise with a lame-duck president. Even more surprisingly, they say Clinton would win over independent voters, and, once elected, be warmly embraced by conservative lawmakers. " Given her strong public support," they say, Clinton "has the ability to step above partisan politics, reach out to Republicans, change the dialogue, and break the gridlock in Washington."
How warmly would conservatives embrace Clinton, who has high approval ratings now that her job puts her above partisan fighting in Washington? After the 1996 budget shutdown, current House Speaker and then Republican conference chair John Boehner said
of Bill Clinton, "We just assumed that, given enough pressure, Clinton would do what he always had done -- cave and cut a deal." Republicans were meaner to the then-First Lady in the 90s, with Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot one of many Republican lawmakers willing to comment on her appearance in 1995 ("I'd give her a five out of ten. . . . She's not a dog
, but, you know, she's not gorgeous.") Is all that water under the bridge? For a clue, let's turn to Don Surber
, the conservative columnist for Charleston, West Virginia, Daily Mail
. Surber writes:
No doubt, Missus Clinton would be a wiser choice and likely would draw Republican support as people wax nostalgic when the only problem America faced was whether the president had sex with that woman, that Monica Lewinsky. But it was more complicated than that and Missus Clinton was part of a team that was too busy falling on grenades for the president and too distracted by partisanship than to do their jobs, particularly on national security.
The other problem besides her craven quest for power at any cost, is that President Obama is not doing terrible in the polls and the Republican bench is looking weak.
Suber illustrates this commentary with a photo of Clinton's hair looking funny.
The Democratic pollsters have made this argument before, writing in The Washington Post
just after the 2010 midterms in which Democrats were crushed. Back then, they argued that compromise would be easier if Republicans knew Obama wouldn't win a popular mandate in 2012: "Forgoing another term would not render Obama a lame duck. Paradoxically, it would grant him much greater leverage with Republicans and would make it harder for opponents such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) - who has flatly asserted that his highest priority is to make Obama a one-term president - to be uncooperative." That's right, handing McConnell a victory on his No. 1 goal without a fight would weaken
McConnell's hand. Further, the pollsters argued that Obama would have an easier time making "hard decisions" on foreign policy. They pollsters don't make that argument this year, perhaps because Obama has managed to make some arguably hard decisions on killing Osama bin Laden and supporting the rebellion against Muammar Qaddafi since their last editorial.
At the conservative blog Hot Air, Ed Morrissey
says that black Democrats who love Obama wouldn't necessarily back Clinton. It seems unlikely that that would be the biggest hurdle Clinton would face if she were to run in 2012.
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is the former politics editor for The Wire