Hear That Whistle Blowin’?


It’s not very loud just yet. But if you bend down, ear to the rails, you can hear the ever-so-quiet singing of a train in the distance.

It’s the Hillary Special, and it’s scheduled to pull into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., on January 21st, 2013.

The engine has always been there, in the railyard, getting refitted and cleaned and tuned up. Bill took it out for its paces a few weeks ago with the comments about Obama’s handling of the economy. Then, of course, came his book, with its false choice between drowning government and crony capitalism.

And now come the test runs, starting with the Wall Street Journal op-ed and the write-in campaign.

The train’s route was made clear by Pat Caddell, in last Friday’s appearance on the Ricochet Podcast. Caddell, along with liberal-but-not-insane pundit partner Douglas Schoen, explained in last week’s Wall Street Journal why Obama had to step aside for Hillary, for the good of the country, and the good of the Democratic Party, not necessarily in that order.

While some read this as desperation and wishful thinking, I’m more inclined to see it as the launching of Hillary’s 2012 exploratory committee. It tests the waters while not committing her to anything, indeed, while not tying her to any possible disloyalty at all.

Caddell’s & Schoen’s idea, in a nutshell, is that Obama can’t win re-election in such a way as to allow him to govern. That in order to win, he’ll have to poison the political environment so thoroughly that cooperation with the Republicans will be impossible, and that the country simply can’t afford that right now. If he loses, he’ll lose whatever gains he’s made for the Left with him. So for Caddell & Schoen, an Obama candidacy is a lose-lose situation.

Worse, Obama is simply giving up on large swatches of the Democrat coalition, in particular working class whites. He’s offered nothing substantial to labor, only the procedural, and is willing at every turn to sacrifice jobs and the economy to the elite green ideologues. (This is a Democrat talking, by the way, not me.)

Hillary, on the other hand, has shrewdly used her tenure at the State Department to build up her own stature as the actual adult in the party, as opposed to the aspirational adult – also known as an adolescent – currently occupying the White House. She’s been disciplined in sticking to foreign policy, keeping her mouth shut about everything else. Even Bill has, according to Caddell, mostly kept his mouth shut.

If in 2000, the country was suffering from Clinton fatigue, it’s now going through some nostalgia for the 90s. Unlike the Bush years, we were (mostly) at peace. Unlike the Obama years, we were prosperous, with a president who seemed to understand the importance of that fact.

Less odious to the center than Obama, Hillary could win with a positive campaign, or at least one without the overt slash-and-burn strategy that Obama is committed to. Once in office, she may be able to cut a grand spending-and-taxing bargain with the Republicans, where Obama has no hope of doing so. Merely by winning, she’ll be able to preserve the key elements of Obamacare, seen by the Left as this generation’s Progressive Great Wave.

Caddell & Schoen remember how, in 1968, when Johnson won only 58% of the vote in New Hampshire, he decided that he didn’t have the stomach for a long primary campaign, even though he stood an excellent shot at re-election against Nixon. He stepped aside in favor of Hubert Humphrey, who might well have won had Johnson stopped bombing Vietnam a couple of weeks sooner. The appeal to Obama’s sense of duty to persuade him to make the same choice.

More than that, they’ll appeal to the same sense of not wanting to fight for renomination. Caddell & Schoen are now trying to get one or several large Democrat donors to run a Hillary Write-In Campaign in New Hampshire. They believe that were she to win a significant percentage of the vote, it might really shake up the race on the Democrat side.

Since it wouldn’t be controlled by or connected to Hillary (wink, wink), Obama couldn’t really tell her to shut it down. Were he to be too forceful, it could allow her to resign and actually run against him, which is the last thing he wants.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed at the lack of close questioning by the Ricochet gang. A number of Caddell’s assertions were dubious at best, and yet went relatively unchallenged. Obama has abandoned labor on the high-profile projects like Keystone XL. But he’s practically turned the NLRB into an arm of the AFL-CIO. The NLRB itself, as an end-run around the loss of a quorum to conduct business, threatens to invest its general counsel with an unheard amount of unreviewable authority and power.

Bill, as we’ve seen, has not been very quiet of late, complaining about Obama’s handling of the economy. Caddell also claims that Hillary is the only thing keeping Obama’s National Security Advisor in check with respect to Israel, but in fact, we don’t really know what Hillary’s person opinions about Israel are, and there’s plenty of reason to think they’re not particularly friendly. I believe Caddell makes that claim because it appeals to a clearly disaffected part of the Democrat base that remembers, as do most Israelis, Bill as a friend of that state.

Similarly, Caddell appeals to what the Democrat Party once was, but no longer is, when he tosses out with obvious disgust, but does not elaborate on, the notion that Obama will seek to circumvent a hostile Congress by ruling by executive fiat. True enough, but worthy of fuller examination, playing as it does to our fears of a truly imperial Presidency.

Thus, the outlines of the prospective Clinton 2012 campaign. The reality is, of course, is that Hillary would not govern as a centrist. She would likely be a more effective salesman for the old, unimaginative Blue Social Model policies that doom us to Europe’s fiscal fate, however.

That clickety clack that promises to take us back will, instead, leave us all – Obama included – singing the blues in the night.

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