Will Hillary Clinton Be An American Pharaoh?


There hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since 1978, when Affirmed and Alydar finished 1-2 in all three races?  Since then, there have been 13 horses who have won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, only to come up short in the Belmont.  This year, American Pharaoh will either become the 12th Triple Crown winner, or the 14th recent near-miss.

Why has it been so long – 37 years and counting – since a horse was able to pull off the feat?

In part, it’s because of the variety of circumstances a horse must win in.  The races are different lengths, with different-sized fields, often raced under very different conditions.

But it’s also because owners and trainers race the Belmont differently.  Instead of running the race straight up, they often gang up on the Triple Crown hopeful, forcing it not to be merely Secretariat, but also Seattle Slew and Affirmed.  It’s a bill that’s almost impossible to fill; no horse can run all-out for a mile and a half without running out of gas somewhere down the stretch.  Smarty Jones, possibly the best Triple Crown shot this century, may have been the victim of this sort of racing.

This year, Hillary might be vulnerable to a strategy where Republicans run at her like the competitors in the Belmont, rather than like the Derby, with different candidates showing her not just inferior to them on specific matters, but simply not credible at all.

In foreign policy,even supporters cannot name a single significant achievement, and she faces challenges from the Republicans both from the left (Rand Paul) and the right (everyone else).  Painting him as irresponsible and out of touch makes the other Republicans look more serious, without reinforcing herself against their criticisms.  The world is a messier, nastier place than it was when Hillary became Secretary of State.  Those candidates with foreign policy expertise or experience will have no trouble pointing out that Hillary either successfully enabled disaster, or ineffectively fought against it.

Personally, people already don’t trust her.  Already, her plans for summertime Foundation-linked events and publicity have been shelved. Between the emails and the Clinton Foundation (and Bill’s shell corporations), the sheer scope of corruption and irresponsibility is something that Republicans will be coming back to on just about every issue.  People may be distracted for a moment by Denny Hastert’s distress, but she’d better come up with something quickly when the parry to her every answer is, “Did you check your foundation’s donor list before answering that, Mrs. Clinton?”  Everyone in country knows that “You can’t prove anything” is the response of the guilty, the sort of thing Spiro Agnew might have said.

And consider what Hillary must assume is her trump card – “Don’t you want to see a woman president?”  Every step of the way, Carly Fiorina has shown a willingness to confront, outthink, and disarm a frankly hostile media.  Fiorina won’t win the nomination, but she’ll deny Hillary that easy trip down the backstretch that winners like to have.

Colorado has seen the “War on Women” movie in multiple elections, with decreasing effectiveness.  The irony is that it was used to elect Barack Obama, not Hillary Clinton.  The trope is starting to wear thin nationally, as well.  How ironic would it be if Hillary were unable to make use of it?

Even on her own side of the ledger, Hillary will have to face Democrats who excite the base, and remind them of what might have been.  It’s not uncommon for Belmont favorites to race other horses with the same trainer.  Owners hate that.  So will Hillary, because it will make her job of intervening in the Republican primary process that much harder.

Each of Hillary’s supposed strengths faces a challenge from at least one of the declared or likely Republican candidates.  It’s not a given, but maybe a probable twelve to seven, that kept on the defensive the whole time, and with no clear front-runner to target, Hillary won’t be able to do to the Republican nominee what Obama did to Romney – use early money to define him.

So the question remains: aside from the more obvious aspirations, is Hillary Clinton an American Pharaoh?