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Jewish World Review August 8, 2003 / 10 Menachem-Av, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Hillary Clinton might not want to wait until 2008


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | In 1968, a carpetbag senator from New York pondered a race to unseat an incumbent president. Determined to capitalize on his family name, raised to mythic proportions by his relative's tenure in the White House, he judged, nevertheless, that his time had not yet come and that he should wait for four more years to venture out and run on his own.

But along came an unknown candidate who saw the vulnerability of the incumbent and mounted a campaign driven by the left-wing activists of the anti-war movement. With the president's strength more apparent than real and Americans chafing under the daily dose of combat casualties, the unknown candidate gathered momentum and support. With each passing week, the incumbent president seemed more and more vulnerable.

Fearing that the train was leaving the station without him, the famous senator hastily revised his plans and jumped into the '68 presidential contest and led a national crusade to oust the incumbent. The unknown but venturesome candidate was shunted aside, and the senator mounted what promised to be a formidable challenge before it was cut short by a bullet.

Will the role Robert F. Kennedy was preparing for be played by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Lyndon Johnson by George W. Bush and Eugene McCarthy by Howard Dean? As that famous philosopher Yogi Berra said, "It's deja vu all over again."

Bill and Hillary Clinton have one central idea in their uncluttered, ambitious minds: Hillary in 2008. Let Bush get re-elected, use the '04 primaries and general election to clean out the underbrush of competing Democratic candidates, and proceed unimpeded to the '08 nomination. Use the book tours to build support and popularity, but let somebody else take the fall in 2004.

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But those well-laid plans would go awry if somebody else beats Bush.

With a Democrat in the White House certain to seek a second term in 2008, Hillary would have to wait until 2012 to run. By then, she'll be 65 and have been out of power for 12 years. The bloom will have faded and the honors gone elsewhere. So as Bush continues his descent in the polls, the chance that Hillary will run becomes ever greater.

The most recent polls put Bush's job approval at 58 percent but, ominously, indicate that only 47 percent would vote for him against a hypothetical Democratic candidate. Forty-seven percent is just about what Bush won in 2000. And how committed could the top 11 percent of his backers be to say that they approve of the job he's doing but won't necessarily vote for him?

Although the economy will improve and one hopes Bush will find a way out to stop the killings in Iraq, the larger reason for the collapse of his ratings is the decline of terrorism as the major issue facing America. Once, more than 50 percent cited it in verbatim questions, but now less than 10 percent do. Like many presidents before him — and like Churchill in 1945 — Bush is the victim of his own success, eradicating the issue that propped him up in the polls by solving it.

The president has skillfully moved to preempt such Democratic issues as the Medicare prescription drug benefit, generic drugs and racial profiling and has made taxes a key issue for the '04 contest by sunsetting his tax cuts, but he still lacks a key domestic issue to use in ginning up his support. I have always felt that immigration reform to keep out terrorists and drug testing to cut demand to dry up the funding for narco-terrorists would serve him well, but so far, he hasn't moved to take up that or any other such issue.

If Bush continues to drop and one or more Democrats start to catch fire, Hillary Clinton will have some thinking to do. She won't have to look far to absorb the consequences of sitting on the sidelines. If 1968 is a distant recollection, 1992 would be doubtless more vivid. Bill Clinton got the nomination because Mario Cuomo decided not to run. Cuomo, figuring Bush couldn't be defeated, elected to wait, as Hillary is waiting in 2004, calculating that Bush can't be taken. Will Hillary remember 1968 — and 1992?

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, Off with Their Heads: Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists in American Politics, Media & Business" Comment by clicking here.

Up

08/06/03: Revolution
07/24/03: As Bush falters, watch Hil run
07/21/03: Peace dominoes begin to fall
07/17/03: Let's hear the good news
07/14/03: Sending troops to Liberia could be a bridge too far
07/10/03: McGovern II
07/07/03: French: Toast
07/03/03: At moment of truth, Hillary turns backwards
06/27/03: And now the dominos begin to fall
06/25/03: W's triangulation
06/23/03: Presidents often fall victim to their own success: Some advice for the president
06/18/03: Times not a-changing
06/13/03: Why did Hillary write the book?
06/11/03: Will the Rev go rogue?
06/05/03: Napoleon's maneuvers at Austerlitz have nothing on prez's
06/02/03: Prez's tax-cut catch-22 for Dems
05/29/03: Liberal author documents Clinton's wasted second term
05/16/03: Early Democrat handicapping for 2004
05/14/03: Gephardt: AWOL
04/30/03: Prez can lose
04/25/03: My message to Putin: Call President Bush
04/23/03: NO OIL FOR BLOOD
04/21/03: The war that network news lost in Iraq
04/15/03: Media meltdown
04/10/03: Giving government a good name
04/03/03: Polls' message to Bush: Relax and win the war
03/31/03: Bomb as you need
03/28/03: The strong grow weak through inhibition
03/26/03: Carping pessimism of TV anchors and interviewers fails to give Americans a sense of defeatism
03/17/03: Poll: Get on with it
03/13/03: It's time for U.S. to play hardball at U.N.
03/10/03: The whole (Hispanic) world is watching
03/07/03: Anti-war errors
03/05/03: Domino theory II: Toppling Mideast despots
03/03/03: Europe's triangulators: Chirac and Blair
02/27/03: Invasion? More like a coup
02/21/03: The first casualty of Iraq war: Liberal credibility
02/19/03: Old Europe's last hurrah
02/14/03: Corzine throws down gauntlet on Wall St. fraud
02/12/03: An exile deal for Saddam
02/07/03: The Dems give up the House
02/05/03: France: Saddam's ally
02/03/03: War critics will suffer
02/30/03: Even by Clinton standards, it's sheer chutzpah
01/24/03: Rebirth of the balanced budget Republican
01/22/03: Next to Bubba, Dubya's got it good
01/16/03: End racism in affirmative action
01/13/03: The new swing voter
01/10/03: Political e-mailing comes of age
01/07/03: In Dem race: Home field no advantage
12/31/02: Hey, Hillary: Want to appear like a stateswomyn? Stay silent
12/19/02: Kerry in the lead
12/19/02: Lieberman the frontrunner
12/17/02: In defense of Lott
12/02/02: An issue for Bush: Drugs
11/27/02: Women gone wobbly?
11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2003, Dick Morris