Well, Hillary Clinton has given us a lot to think about, again.
If someone threw a shoe at you, would you (A) duck; (B) catch it to see what size it is and whether it fits; (C) laugh and say it’s either a bat or you’re at Cirque du Soleil. Choosing C, Hillary is being hailed as (1) quick thinking; (2) witty; (3) self-possessed enough to be president.
Absent any other exciting political figures, attention is being lavished on the former first lady, senator from New York and secretary of state on the foregone conclusion she’ll run for president in 2016. There’s a Ready for Hillary political action committee in McLean, Va., collecting money to make Hillary run and at least 12 super PACS, including Stop Hillary, raising money against her. Actually, they can use the money however they want.
The “Ready for Hillary” Internet store offers T-shirts, mugs, magic markers, buttons, lapel pins, hoodies, men’s and women’s long-sleeved shirts, hats, onesies for babies, smart phone cases, water bottles, key straps and, of course, bumper stickers. There are champagne glasses, cocktail napkins, medals, car magnets, tote bags and yard signs. Prices range from $4 to $60.
There have been 200 Ready for Hillary events around the country. The PAC says it has raised $5.75 million from 55,000 donors and shipped out 300,000 bumper stickers; 700,000 have signed up to help if Hillary decides to run.
Hillary says she still has to figure out why she’d run. “I am thinking about it, but I am going to continue to think about it for a while,” she says. “The hard questions are not do you want to be president, or can you win. The hard questions are why. Why would you want to do this and what can you offer that could make a difference.”
Aha! What would she want to do as president? And what could she do? She has said nothing yet about what a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean for the country. Being first woman president would be cool but probably isn’t reason enough to elect her.
She ran in 2008 defending the war in Iraq, a war that just about everyone except Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney agrees was a bad mistake. There’s a general consensus that capturing Saddam Hussein was not worth thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.
She believes in “empowering women,” whatever that means. If it means raising the minimum wage to $10.10, Congress keeps blocking it. If it means ensuring that women no longer make only 77 percent of what men do, lots of luck with Congress. And as long as men control the boardrooms, the percentage of women CEOs will stay minuscule.
She believes in Obamacare, with perhaps a few tweaks. But she would not repeal it.
As secretary of state she racked up sensational air miles, but big breakthroughs such as Middle East peace eluded her. The American deaths at Benghazi occurred on her watch.
She has written a book about her experiences at the State Department, due out this summer. Volume two of her memoirs. By year’s end, she promises to decide whether she’s running for president. (Betting is yes.)
Then it gets tough. She must show her presidency would be different from her husband’s two terms and from President Obama’s two terms. What would she do about Vladimir Putin and North Korea? How would she put millions of unemployed Americans back to work? How would she get Congress to do something meaningful about climate change? How would she ensure Americans are once again the best educated in the world? How would she curtail gun violence?
Suffice it to say, she’s got a lot of explaining to do.
In the meantime, prepare for more “I’m ready for Hillary” bumper stickers and “So Ready for Hillary” yard signs. Donate as much as you wish for or against her. But your donations are not deductible for federal income tax purposes. Not until she figures out why she’s running.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune. Readers may send her email at [email protected]