Hillary Clinton is running for Barack Obama’s third term whether she says so or not. Here’s what she did say at the Democratic debate in Milwaukee this month.
“I want to follow up on something having to do with leadership, because, you know, today Senator Sanders said that President Obama failed the presidential leadership test. And this is not the first time that he has criticized President Obama. In the past he has called him weak. He has called him a disappointment. … And I just couldn’t disagree more with those kinds of comments. … The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans. I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama.”
Sending a Valentine to the president in February may (and almost certainly will) work in the race for the Democratic nomination because Democrats generally still like President Obama. And none are more loyal than black Democrats who give the president his highest marks and whose votes both Clinton and Sanders are courting in advance of the primaries in the South, where African American voters have a lot of clout.
But does the strategy make sense when winter is just a memory and the summer campaign is in full swing?
Consider this: According to a recent Gallup poll, 71 percent of likely general election voters say America is on the wrong track.
Who’s been president for the past 7-plus years?
For a significant number of Americans, the economy is still anemic, wages are still stagnant, and millions of Americans can’t find good, full-time jobs. For those who lost their doctor or health insurance plan to ObamaCare, the man who promised that would never happen is hardly a hero.
Is this what Hillary really wants to associate herself with?
Besides, Barack Obama doesn’t have coat tails. Here’s how the Washington Examiner explained it:
“Obama has won whenever he has been on the ballot. But Republicans have found they can beat him badly every time he isn’t. In the last two midterm elections, a Democratic candidate’s coziness with Obama became a kiss of death, inspiring more passion among opposing voters than among supportive ones. This is why Democrats are at or near modern lows in their control of governorships, state legislatures, and U.S. House and Senate.
“Obama’s legacy is golden with the voters Clinton is courting in the next two weeks, but not with the ones she must win over this fall. For many voters, and not just the ones attracted to pessimistic populist messages of Sanders and Donald Trump, the Obama era has been one of economic stagnation.”
In politics, tomorrow is a long way off. November is light years away. Memo to Hillary: What works now doesn’t always work later. And I suspect that running for Barack Obama’s third term is one of those ideas that won’t sound all that good when she’s running against someone not named Sanders.