In November, Barack Obama, who had avoided commenting on the Democratic presidential primary, came out forcefully in opposition to the extreme positions taken by some leading progressive contenders, positions that could cause the Democrats to be beaten by Trump in the 2020 election. Obama was a very popular president among Democrats, and what he has to say carries considerable weight with them. While this may not be his intent, Obama’s position could open the field for Hillary Clinton to enter the fray and quite possibly become the Democrats’ nominee, given the lackluster performance of leading “moderate” Joe Biden, whose weaknesses have been brought out by the mainstream media, despite their animosity toward Trump.
Now many in the Democratic Party leadership, as well as wealthy Democratic donors, have been concerned for some time about the radical nature of some of the economic policies advocated by the leading progressive Democratic contenders. They fear that instead of the 2020 election revolving around Trump with his low approval ratings, and very likely his impeachment, which would seem to be a slam-dunk victory for Democrats, it would focus on those radical economic proposals. Many voters are skeptical about how free college for all, free health care for all, high-paying jobs in “green energy”—after greatly reducing the use of fossil fuels, free childcare for all, just to name some of the “free” things that have been promised, would really work. Instead of raising taxes on the middle class, most of these free things would purportedly be paid for by the super-wealthy, which would exclude mere millionaires such as Bernie Sanders (estimated wealth $2 million) and Elizabeth Warren (estimated wealth $12 million) who are the leading progressive contenders.
Obama began stressing his concern about the danger of radicalism in an October speech at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago. And he did this not by dealing with presidential candidates but with youth who think they can immediately change society. “This idea of purity and you’re never compromised, and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly,” Obama lectured. “The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.”
It was at a gathering of Democratic donors in Washington, D.C., in November that Obama cautioned Democratic candidates not to go too far to the left since that would antagonize many voters who would otherwise support the Democratic candidate. “Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality,” Obama asserted. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.” Although Obama did not specify particular Democratic candidates, his warning was widely interpreted as being directed at Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Currently, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, according to national polls, is Joe Biden, who is considered a moderate. But Biden has a number of problems. He continues to make gaffes while speaking, and during his long career in the Senate took positions that are antithetical to the Democratic Party of today. Moreover, he lacks the charisma to attract large crowds to his events. Thus, it is questionable that he has the capability to attract large numbers of Democratic voters to the polls in November 2020.
According to Politico Magazine, Obama was recently discussing election tactics with an unnamed current candidate and “pointed out that during his own 2008 campaign, he had an intimate bond with the electorate” and he is quoted as adding, “And you know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.”
Biden’s appeal already seems to be waning. For example, in November, a Marquette Law School poll, which is considered the gold-standard survey in swing state Wisconsin, which the Democrats need to win the 2020 election, shows Trump leading Biden 47 percent to 44 percent. In October, Trump had trailed Biden by 6 points (44 percent to 50 percent), and in August, Trump trailed Biden by 9 points (42 percent to 51 percent). In short, Biden is losing support. Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by a slender margin of 0.77 percent, with 47.22 percent of the total votes over the 46.45 percent for Hillary Clinton.
Another problem Biden faces is the corrupt activities of his son Hunter and brother James, who have taken advantage of their connection with him. The mainstream media has so far largely kept this mostly under wraps, but this tactic won’t be successful as the election approaches. In fact, the progressive Democrats such as Bernie Sanders are likely to bring this up in a desperate effort to be nominated. And already these issues are being mentioned by the alternative media. For instance, there is an article in the non-partisan, anti-government Intercept titled, “Joe Biden’s Family Has Been Cashing in on His Career for Decades. Democrats Need to Acknowledge That,” and comparable articles in the conservative Washington Examiner such as, “Hunter Biden-linked company r eceived $130M in special federal loans while Joe Biden was vice president,” and “Hunter Biden has 99 problems, and Burisma is only one.”
David Axelrod, Democratic strategist and longtime aide to Barack Obama, said concerns about Biden’s electability clearly influenced multi-billionaire (estimated $53 billion) and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s entrance into the contest for the Democratic nominee for president. “There’s no question that Bloomberg’s calculus was that Biden was occupying a space, and the fact that he’s getting in is a clear indication that he’s not convinced Biden has the wherewithal to carry that torch,” Axelrod said. “So yeah, I don’t think this is a positive development for Joe Biden.”
Similarly, Democratic strategist Brad Bannon contended that “centrist Democrats and wealthy donors have lost confidence in Biden’s ability to stop Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination.” Bannon added that with Bloomberg entering the Democratic presidential race, “Biden’s fundraising will get even shakier than it already is. There’s only room for one moderate in this race and Bloomberg threatens Biden’s status as the centrist standard-bearer.”
Bloomberg’s “stop and frisk” policy as mayor, which largely targeted blacks and Hispanics, should make it virtually impossible that he could be the Democratic nominee, despite his recent apology. Unless he has become senile in his late 70s, Bloomberg should well understand this since he did not make his billions by being stupid. It could be that he intends to serve as a stalking horse to draw Hillary Clinton into the contest by showing the weakness of Biden. Then like Superwoman, Hillary can enter the fray, appearing not to act for her own sake but to save the country from a likely second term for President Trump.
Similarly, Mark Penn, who was chief strategist for Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign, said Bloomberg’s entrance could cause Clinton to consider to run and decide there’s “still a political logic there for her.”
As Biden’s support slips away, Clinton’s should rise. Clinton has been recently promoting a book she co-wrote with her daughter, Chelsea, in Britain. In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Clinton said “many, many, many people” are pressuring her to jump into the 2020 presidential race and that she thinks about this “all the time.” Clinton told the host that she is under “enormous pressure” but said it is not in her plans, though she cryptically added that she would “never say never.”
Dick Morris, who was once a close confidant of the Clintons during Bill Clinton’s time as Arkansas governor and U.S. president recently said in a radio interview that Hillary Clinton likely wants to run for the presidency in 2020. “My feeling is that she wants to,” Morris said. “She feels entitled to do it. She feels compelled to do it. She feels that God put her on the Earth to do it. But she’s hesitant because she realizes the timing is bad.”
However, Morris contends that Clinton believes that she has to “wait until Biden drops out because he’s obviously next in line for it, and if he goes away, there’s an opening for her.” According to Morris’ scenario, Clinton would become the moderate candidate opposed to the leading progressive, Elizabeth Warren.
Morris has not been in touch with the Clintons for many years, and has become strongly critical of them, so his claim might be questionable. Nonetheless, his portrayal of Hillary’s current thinking seems quite reasonable.
A Fox News poll included Clinton along with the active Democratic candidates in a hypothetical election with Trump, and Hillary came out ahead of him by two percentage points. While some actual candidates did somewhat better than Hillary, she did quite well for someone who is not currently running for office.
Furthermore, a Harris Harvard poll in late October asked the question, “Suppose Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, and John Kerry decides [sic] to enter the race, who would you support as a candidate for President?” Joe Biden received the support of 19 percent of Democrat respondents while Clinton was a close second with 18 percent. Elizabeth Warren came in third at 13 percent, John Kerry was at 8 percent, and Bloomberg was at 6. Again, Clinton does quite well for someone who is not actually running for president.
One might think that if references to family members’ corruption damaged Biden, then Clinton would be subject to worse damage in that area, since she and her husband Bill were connected with far more corrupt activities—Whitewater, Travelgate, the Lewinsky affair, the Paula Jones affair, t the death of Vince Foster, the Clinton Foundation, her private server, and so on. But these issues are already known and are presumably already taken into account by the voters, whereas the Biden family’s corrupt activities are so far largely unknown.
It should be pointed out that Clinton has a number of positives as a presidential candidate. Although losing in the Electoral College in 2016, Clinton had garnered 3 million more votes more than Trump. The election was decided by a total of 80,000 votes in three states. It is highly unlikely that such a fluke could be duplicated.
Clinton’s staff had been overconfident assuming victory, which was based on their polling of various states, and as a result began to focus on competing in states well beyond those Clinton needed for victory.
Moreover, one key event outside the control of Clinton’s staff was FBI Director James Comey’s investigation of Clinton’s use of a personal email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Most crucial were his July 2016 public statement terminating the investigation, with a lengthy comment about what Clinton did wrong, and his October 28 reopening the inquiry into newly discovered emails and then closing it two days before the election, stating that the emails had not provided any new information. The October 28 letter, however, probably played a key role in the outcome of the election. As statistician Nate Silver maintains: “Hillary Clinton would probably be president if FBI Director James Comey had not sent a letter to Congress on Oct. 28. The letter, which said the FBI had ‘learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation into the private email server that Clinton used as secretary of state, upended the news cycle and soon halved Clinton’s lead in the polls, imperiling her position in the Electoral College.’”
[Silver’s organization FiveThirtyEight had projected a much higher chance (29 percent) of Donald Trump winning the presidency than most other pollsters]
Clinton has also helped to convince many Democrats and members of the mainstream media that the 2016 election was stolen from her by Russian agents If this were really true – which is very doubtful – then Hillary should be the Democrats’ candidate for 2020 since Russian intervention should not be as successful as it allegedly was in 2016.
In endorsing Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, Obama stated. “I don’t think that there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.” He has yet to make such an endorsement for Biden and privately, as mentioned earlier, said he is a poor choice for a nominee. He might ultimately endorse Biden, but he certainly would not renege on what he said four years ago about Clinton if she became the Democrats’ standard-bearer.
Should Clinton opt to run, she would have no trouble raising money since she set a record in 2016 of $1.4 billion and wealthy donors want a moderate to be the Democratic nominee. It would seem likely that she would enter the contest if Biden has serious trouble. She would miss some state primaries since it would be too late to register in them but given the crowded field of candidates, there is a likelihood that there will be a brokered convention, that is, the convention will go past the first ballot. Since the superdelegates would be allowed to vote in all rounds after the first, they could determine the winner, which would probably mean the selection of a candidate who would be seen to have the greatest chance of winning, and that would likely be Hillary Clinton, if she has entered the fray.
I discussed the merits of Pete Buttigieg in a previous article in Unz Review,
and what I write here might seem to conflict with that. However, while Buttigieg is doing quite well in the polls, he still does not get much support from blacks and Latinos, which is essential to become the Democrats nominee for president. Buttigieg could, however, be nominated for vice president or, more likely, given an important cabinet position since the vice-presidential slot would probably be reserved for a black or Latino if a white person were picked as the presidential nominee, which currently seems likely.
But because of Buttigieg’s relatively hardline foreign policy, which largely meshes with that of Clinton’s, and his wide knowledge and language ability, Buttigieg would fit well in the all-important position of secretary of state in a Clinton administration. Moreover, Buttigieg, whose tenure as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, will end in January 2020, would almost certainly be willing to take such a position, which could serve as a jumping-off point for the presidency in the future.