Thursday, December 5, 2013
In 1991, when a runoff for Louisiana governor pitted Democrat Edwin Edwards (who had survived previous brushes with the law but would later be convicted on corruption charges) against David Duke (a former grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan), a bumper sticker appeared that said, "Vote for the Crook: It's Important!"
(Another one said, "Vote for the Lizard, Not the Wizard!" Duke, by the way, was not the Republican candidate in the open primary that preceded the two-way runoff. That was a former Democrat, incumbent Gov. Buddy Roemer, who came in third.)
Edwards crushed Duke, ending his slimy attempt to mainstream white supremacy, but the lesson is clear: Some otherwise undesirable candidates become much less offensive if their opposition would be worse.
Fast forward to the present, when we find it dawning on conservatives that, with both Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden preparing to run for president in 2016, a new bumper sticker could say, "Vote for the Doofus: It's Important!"
Many people seem to believe Hillary would have a much smoother path to her party's nod than the fumble-tongued veep (who once invited a man in a wheelchair to stand up and take a bow; said our most important priority was "a three-letter word, J-O-B-S"; and claimed Franklin D. Roosevelt had gone on television when the stock market crashed in 1929, before FDR was elected or TV sets existed).
But let's recall that Hillary's candidacy was seen as inevitable long before the 2008 race, too.
After Democrats took a good look at her, they selected an untried senator who had served just half a term in office and had no notable accomplishments on his record.
Any attempt to counter a rival's record with a list of Hillary's own accomplishments runs up hard against the fact that, after years in the public's eye, she has a nearly blank slate as senator and secretary of state.
Indeed, what isn't blank can be negative: Remember that she offered a silly "Reset" button to Vladimir Putin, which no doubt produced chuckles in the Kremlin, and falsely claimed that an obscure video caused the Benghazi attack in which four Americans died.
Her strident assertion of "What difference, at this point, does it make?" to congressional queries about the actual cause of that atrocity could well produce bumper stickers saying, "Vote for Hillary: What Difference Does It Make?"
Her stumbles in her 2008 race, including the untrue claim she came under "sniper fire" in Bosnia, haven't been forgotten, and neither has her own party's rejection of the health care plan she labored to produce as first lady.
She also could be weighed down by the inevitable perception that her election would be tantamount to giving her husband a third presidential term.
And her closest aide, Huma Abedin (Mrs. Anthony Weiner), is under scrutiny for holding a government job at the State Department while simultaneously earning big bucks at Teneo, a consulting firm founded by a former aide to Bill Clinton, and being privately employed by the Clinton Foundation and Hillary personally.
Finally, as liberal columnist Maureen Dowd pointed out in a New York Times column on Aug. 17, activities at the Clintons' foundation show their record of "fungible finances and tensions" continues to this day.
That led Dowd to ask, "Are we about to put the 'For Rent' sign back on the Lincoln Bedroom?"
She added, "If Americans are worried about money in politics, there is no larger concern than the Clintons, who are cosseted in a world where rich people endlessly scratch the backs of rich people.
"They have a Wile E. Coyote problem: something is always blowing up. Just when the Clintons are supposed to be floating above it all, on a dignified cloud of do-gooding leading into 2016, pop-pop-pop, little explosions go off everywhere, reminding us of the troubling connections and values they drag around."
Might there be a glimmering idea among some left-wingers that Hillary would be a brittle candidate -- hard on the surface but vulnerable to cracking under the inevitably severe impacts of another presidential campaign?
While the thought of the gaffe-tastic Biden sitting behind the presidential desk is also daunting (though the debates would be fun), there are reasons for Democrats to prefer him to her.
Still, is there any other Democrat with a chance to make both Hillary and Joe the also-rans in 2016 that they both so richly deserved to be in 2008?
Is there anyone who could outdo Hillary for the feminist vote and Joe for the party regulars, and yet maintain the backing of the Obamaniacs looking for the government gravy train to keep pushing goodies in their direction?
Yes, there is such a person. Her first name is Michelle.
And you thought I was kidding about presidential third terms.
M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org