“Several circumstances—President Biden’s low approval rating, doubts over his capacity to run for re-election at 82, Vice President Kamala Harris’s unpopularity, and the absence of another strong Democrat to lead the ticket in 2024—have created a leadership vacuum in the party, which Mrs. Clinton viably could fill,” the two write. “She is already in an advantageous position to become the 2024 Democratic nominee.”
Their backgrounds should give you pause about a) their intentions and b) their analysis of the state of the Democratic Party and the 2024 field.
But, let’s put that aside and, for the sake of argument consider their case on the merits. The core of their argument is that:
a) Clinton is an experienced hand in government and national politics.
b) She could run as the change candidate.
c) She is dropping hints that she wants to run again.
Let’s break down — and debunk — these ideas one by one.
1. Clinton has the right experience to be president. Yes, this is true! Clinton’s resume — Secretary of State, New York Senator, First Lady — is, without question, one of the most impressive of any politician in either party. Here’s the problem: That was true when she ran for president in 2016 and even in 2008 when she hadn’t been secretary of state yet! And, breaking news, she lost both of those campaigns. What’s changed between then and now? Schoen and Stein would argue that the moment — Covid-19 continuing to rage in the country, supply chain issues, the disastrous pullout of American troops from Afghanistan — all point to the need for a steady hand at the top. But, isn’t that what voters chose the current president for? Yes, yes it is. And while Clinton and Biden are not carbon copies of one another, their relevant experience is remarkably similar — long careers in the public policy space in Washington.
2. Clinton is the change candidate. Here’s the Schoen/Stein argument; “If Democrats lose control of Congress in 2022, Mrs. Clinton can use the party’s loss as a basis to run for president again, enabling her to claim the title of ‘change candidate.'” Uh, what? Republicans winning the House (and maybe the Senate) will allow Clinton — who spent three-plus decades as a pillar of the Washington establishment — to position herself as the change candidate? How, exactly? There’s absolutely no scenario I can imagine in which Clinton would be able to be the change candidate. Her background is simply too Washington (and politics) heavy. Plus, Schoen and Stein just got done arguing that Clinton has the right experience for the job. So, how could she run as the experience candidate and the change agent? I simply do not think that Republicans winning control of Congress in 2022 suddenly transforms Clinton into a change candidate along the lines of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. (Worth noting again: Clinton lost that primary to Obama.)
Look, the election of Trump in 2016 has taught me to never dismiss any idea — no matter how seemingly outlandish — as impossible. Which means that I am not willing to say that there is a 0.0% chance that Clinton thinks about running in 2024.
What I can say is that this Schoen/Stein op-ed does little to convince me that:
a) She will run.
b) Her running would be a good idea.
c) She would be well positioned to win.