April 8, 2013

Of course it’s way too early and it’s silly to talk about anything associated with the 2016 presidential campaign. But it is fun, and with all the mindless speculation these days about Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, I thought I would weigh in.Part of Hillary’s problem is that she is the focus of all the too-early talk. Everything she does, starting last week, will be viewed through the prism of a presidential campaign. Already, people are looking for signs and meaning in everything from her book tour and post-government private business opportunities to her hairstyle. It is hard — and certainly not fun — to live under that microscope. Every pundit in America will fill the airwaves and Internet with endless critiques. Some reviews will be good and some will be bad, but the coverage is guaranteed to become tiresome.Hillary has been the front-runner for the Democratic Party before and it did not work out.

She obviously has a lot that is new to say after serving for four years as secretary of state, but how much does the average voter value foreign policy experience? If the economy remains the priority — and it will — what takeaways from her globetrotting can Hillary apply? Would we be getting anything different, besides her gender, from what we have today?What makes Hillary interesting outside of the job and her relationship with her husband? We are all going to find out. And the reviews of her performance will start immediately. Expectations will be high for her next interview and speech.Hillary Clinton’s presentation skills from behind the podium are just okay. Not good and not even close to great. In this aspect, she’s more like Al Gore than like Bill Clinton. But she will get more than a pass from the mostly supportive media. They will swoon and cover for her lackluster live TV appearances. Any sign of wit will be praised as the quickest ever; attempts at humor will be celebrated as nimble, self-effacing and overwhelmingly charming; and any serious utterance will be heralded as destined for granite.

One problem Hillary won’t have — although Republicans wish otherwise — is the legacy of Bill Clinton. If anyone could pull off mass hypnosis of the American public via their television screens, it would be Bill Clinton. That could explain the Big Dog nostalgia that exists in the United States today. Voters might not want a third Obama term, but a lot of middle-of-the-road voters would happily welcome a third Clinton term. The words “President Clinton” are associated with good times.  Hillary doesn’t have to promise more Barack, she can just credibly say, “I will pick up where Bill left off.” The question is, will that be enough?  We’ll be hearing a lot about it in the months ahead.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.