Why can't I like Hillary this time?
It's 16 months out from the presidential nominating conventions but things are already heating up. A butt-load of Republican candidates is staking out every possible position from fiscally conservative state governor types who might be soft on social issues to bat-crap crazy zealots holding ground on the very lunatic fringes from libertarian to pulpit-pounding values fundamentalists.
On the Democratic side, there is a growing sense of inevitability among those who feel guilty over passing over Hillary Clinton in '08 and being carried away on Barack Obama's naive hope/change agenda. Now it's her turn, right?
I was one of those who began the '08 political season happy to follow Hillary and put a woman in the White House for the first time. I got swept away by the Obama tide and rejoiced in his election.
I even voted for him a second time, though I was sad that his early promise had been overtaken by some sad realities of politics and world affairs.
Now the question I face is this: Why can't I like Hillary this time around?
It's not because of her association with that ol' rogue, Bill Clinton. She seems long ago to have come to an understanding to tolerate him acting the hound dog in return for allowing her to be more than just a first lady. I like Bill despite his flaws (some of which I share). The presidents I really admired as good men, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, did not prove to be good presidents. The sneaky bastards that make up in personal force what they lack in goodness seemed to make better or more effective presidents. LBJ is a good case in point.
It's not the pant suits. I like to think that I can look beyond something that superficial. After all, I didn't hold Reagan's brown suits against him.
It's not her age. I had a sneaking suspicion that Reagan was too old. And actually he was losing his hearing, his focus and his ability to tell history from his old films. She's older than Reagan was when he ran successfully. Maybe the fact that I rolled over 70 last year makes me much more tolerant.
Anyway, she is healthy, as far as I know, and seems perfectly able to carry out the office. Maybe a young running mate would help on that front with some people.
It is not, I'm pretty sure, that I'm anti-feminist. I had no problem with Joan Finney or Kathleen Sebelius as governors of Kansas. I admired Geraldine Ferraro and appreciate Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts. Some of my best friends are women.
I don't blame her for Benghazi. I think that the ambassador was a bit of a cowboy who relished traveling with minimum entourage including security. Her options for saving him were minimal even though her candor about the period since then have left something to be desired.
I don't care if she used a private email server when she should have been using official State Department channels for her Blackberry and cell phone. Avoiding the public record can't be too much of a concern. After all, Edward Snowdon got hold of the transmissions. He also showed that the public record may be too public.
I don't even think that trying to reinvent herself is a deal breaker. One need only to look at Rand Paul's crab scuttle away from his past isolationist views. And this is but one example of a candidate shifting toward what he/she believes the public wants to hear. An argument may be made that part of leadership is understanding and taking into account what the public wants.
Maybe it's the "use by" thing. You know, many products carry dates by which they should be used. Some manufactures go the route of "new and improved" to boost interest. Newt Gingrich did it three times or more. At least once for each divorce and remarriage. Hillary has been on the political scene for several decades now. It is not surprising that she seems somehow shopworn or old school.
Don't get me wrong. I'll probably end up voting for Mrs. Clinton. She won't say much on policy that I can't agree with. With which I can't agree. She is probably a bit more influenced by big banks, brokerages and corporations than I would like. Maybe Elizabeth Warren could push her a bit more into regulatory activity. It would be nice to have a Democratic Congress to push her that way, but that seems very unlikely.
Lots could happen in 16 months. The Republicans will certainly cannibalize themselves.
Martin O'Malley or some other Democrat might emerge. Hillary could have health problems. I don't need to make my mind up this early. One thing is certain, the next year will be interesting.