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The Post-Obama Democratic Party

Benghazi isn't likely to keep Hillary out of the Democratic field in 2016, but after 2008, she is justifiably paranoid.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifying about the September, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Hillary Clinton is an easy favorite among Democrats for Obama's successor, but can she hold her tongue?.

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Two elections ago, the Democratic Party was on the verge of being torn to shreds. After a long series of dirty tricks and one stolen election later, there was an uncomfortable coming together.

Obama and his cronies kept most of the important positions, while the Clintonites got a few pieces of the foreign policy apparatus. The arrangement satisfied no one, but it kept ticking along until the Benghazi attacks happened.

By the time Benghazi happened, Clinton and Obama needed each other more than ever.  Obama needed the Clintons on the campaign trail to sell him to more moderate Democrats who remembered that times had been better under Bill. Hillary needed Obama to anoint her as his intended successor.

The awkward dance, complete with an injury, a congressional hearing and a 60 Minutes interview and then the real fireworks began.

Hillary Clinton had turned lemons into lemonade, getting what she could out of Obama. State had looked like a good spot for her because it would insulate her from the backlash over the economy. And she would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for Benghazi. It wasn’t quite leaving on a high note, but as bad as Benghazi was, no one in their right mind would want to be associated with what is going to happen in Afghanistan. At least no one who isn’t as dumb as Hanoi John who began his career with Viet Cong and Sandinista pandering and will end it watching the Taliban take Kabul.

Benghazi hasn’t slowed Hillary Clinton down. And her target is the same old target from 2008. We’re back in that 3 A.M. phone call territory. The truce between Obama and Hillary Clinton ended on 60 Minutes. It’s not exactly war, but it is politics.

While Obama and his cronies plot out the second term, Hillary Clinton is plotting out her election campaign. These days every presidential campaign begins with the ceremonial burial of your own party’s predecessor. It wasn’t just McCain who kept a careful distance from Bush, Gore kept a careful distance from Clinton and Bush Sr. kept a careful distance from Reagan. The reinvention invariably involves the ritual jettisoning of some portions of your predecessor’s program and personality.

Hillary Clinton isn’t betting on being able to ride Obama’s coattails. Not only are the coattails short, but the same electorate of younger and minority voters whose turnout he could count on, won’t be quite as eager to come out for her. Her people are not betting on Obama’s strategy of dismissing mainstream voters and counting on making it up with a passionate base. To win, Hillary Clinton will have to win back some of the same voters that Obama alienated during his two terms.

The script is already written. You can spot it peeking through select mainstream media editorials. Watch for those instances where mainstream media pundits blame Obama’s inexperience and his failure to reach out across the aisle for his shortcomings. Those mentions aren’t so much an attack on Obama as they are a campaign sign reading, “Hillary 2016.” It’s subtle for now, but a year from now, those grudging admissions that Obama fell short in some areas will come with the strong suggestion that next time around, someone more experienced and more able to build bridges could do better.

Republicans will rightly wonder on which planet, Hillary Clinton is an experienced bipartisan leader. But compared to Obama, she is, and these days we are grading on one very gentle curve. Clinton had begun building that image for the 2008 election and now her people are taking it out and dusting it off again. The Democratic Party is being given the chance to choose the sensible experienced candidate that it failed to choose last time around. And the fact that the candidate in question is actually neither is one of those things that doesn’t really make a difference.

In preparing for a Post-Bush candidacy, Hillary gambled that the public would want someone a little more to the right and so she cultivated an image as a conservative member of the Democratic Party. Not only did she cultivate the image, but she made an occasional effort to vote that way and build those alliances. It was good planning, but a bad bet. Unlike Bill, Hillary was never an instinctual politician. Bill plays it by ear, while Hillary makes long term plans and is caught by surprise.

The strange thing about her 2016 campaign prep is that she appears to be following the same playbook. But on the other hand it might not be so strange at all.

The Democratic Party is uneasily planning its own Post-Obama future and the news isn’t particularly good. The Republican Party never became the Party of Bush, but the Democratic Party is the party of Obama. Obama and his cronies have built up a shadow party of the left made up of SuperPACs and think tanks that overlaps with the Democratic Party, but has no real investment in it.

The unveiling of OFA, completes the marginalization of the Democratic Party at the hands of a lefty technocratic infrastructure that looks a lot like the bare bones of a third party. Meanwhile the jackass party has been taking a political beating with no respite. It is doing even worse in the leadership department than the GOP and its party identification numbers are down in an imperial system where the voters care more about Obama’s unilateral lawmaking, than about voting the Democratic ticket.

The Democratic Party needs a post-Obama future and the Clintons have the resources and names to tie the organization together and turn it into something more than a way to get names for Obama’s private fundraising and mailing list. Hillary Clinton had too much of the wrong history attached to her in 2008, but in 2016, all that history may suddenly be good history. After eight years, everyone is tired of new blood and will settle for some old blood with more modest ambitions.

And that brings us back to Benghazi. State was supposed to be a smooth ride for Hillary Clinton, full of photo ops that suggest experience. No one was counting on her bringing a scandal back with her. But the one thing Hillary Clinton can be relied on to do is find a scandal and bring it back no matter where she is or what she does.

Benghazi intersected dangerously with the presidential ambitions of two candidates. Obama needed to shut down Benghazi in 2012 and Hillary needs to bury it long before the primaries, because if she doesn’t, her party rivals will use it to bury her. And that’s where things begin wandering into a new territory in which the old political rules no longer apply.

In Term 1, Obama and Clinton were untouchable by the media. As Term 2 winds on, they will become bigger targets for both Republicans and Democrats. And the media will begin bending against them. It’s easy to read that as an accretion of disgust, but it’s just politics.

The media appeared to turn on Bill Clinton toward the end, but it wasn’t fed up with his sleazy ways, instead it was establishing Al Gore as an ethical contrast to Bill. The idea may be ridiculous, but it nearly worked and giving Bill Clinton a kick on the way out helped sell his own vice president as an alternative to his own boss. Before too long, it will be Obama’s turn to get kicked for Hillary’s sake. And it will be both their turns to get kicked for the sake of a preferred alternative to either one of them.

No matter how much the media swooned over Obama, it will feed him to the dogs in a minute if the domestic or international situation gets to the point that it did for Bush toward the end. Any number of events, including a complete health care disaster or a series of Taliban victories in Afghanistan could bring that on. But even if nothing that big happens, the malaise will likely mean that Obama will not get the Great Leader sendoff that some of his supporters imagined he would. The media isn’t loyal to Obama. It’s loyal to the left and it will destroy Obama for the sake of its bigger goals.

But Obama may have his own agenda. The left succeeded in hijacking the 2008 election. And who is to say that OFA will go away when Obama does? The odds are good that it will not. And that means that a second civil war may be brewing, this time with a much tougher left taking on a weakened Democratic Party stripped of many of its moderate figures.

The Democratic Party may want someone who can heal some of the wounds of ObamaCare and reassure gun owners that they can come back, but that isn’t what the left wants. And if Hillary can’t figure out how to sell her candidacy as being all things to all Democrats, the sort of trick that Bill used to be able to easily pull off, then things will get ugly.

All this isn’t about what will happen in 2016, but what is already happening now. Clinton’s people are planting stories undermining Obama. And what are Obama’s people doing? That’s the question.

A Republican leadership that is routinely inept suddenly had two breakthroughs; one in Benghazi and one in the IRS. The IRS material is being served up on a silver platter, suggesting that is a distraction. The two scandals cut different ways. Benghazi hurts Obama, but it hurts Clinton more. The IRS is all Obama. It can’t be deposited at Clinton’s door and its narrative serves her interests.

Benghazi isn’t likely to keep Hillary out of the Democratic field in 2016, but after 2008, she is justifiably paranoid. Any appearance of weakness can only embolden another Obama to challenge her and for 2016, as for 2008, her strategy is to be so inevitable that she will never even be challenged. It’s not much of a plan, but it’s why she needs to see Benghazi dead and buried in every sense of the word.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

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About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.


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