Hillary Clinton: Better Than the Rest at Their Best

By Jamie Stiehm

April 3, 2015 5 min read

She's a cunning vixen, some say about Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential front-runner in 2016.

A woman with a passion for wealth, secrecy and power. A wounded warrior who can't aspire to the likes of Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy or even her own husband, Bill. Yesterday trying to turn into tomorrow.

Well, so? This is what you hear when Democrats talk about Clinton. Sure, they'll support her till the last dog dies, but it's not like falling in love the first time.

It's a battle-hardened relationship that has pitched high and low, sun and snow over years — yes, 22 since she was sworn in as first lady. (Pardon my jest.) We think we know her true colors and flaws like those of an old friend. Clearly, she was born to run. Her 2016 campaign is a moment of manifest destiny, even her enemies might admit. Polls show that her support has softened, dipping just below 50 percent for the first time in seven years, but she is still the powerhouse looming large over other contenders.

We've seen Clinton fail at health care reform, suffer over her husband's personal misdeeds, succeed as a senator, lose a tough presidential primary battle and glow around the globe mending fences as secretary of state.

Here's roughly the consensus among Democrats: At her worst, Clinton is better than those in the Republican field at their best.

Let's review the real field, not a past gallery of Democratic presidents. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is just like his elder brother, former President George W. Bush, without the drop of boyish charm. Both were born to the Bush breed, and 19 of Jeb's 21 foreign policy advisers served under his dad, former President George H.W. Bush, or his brother. Because George W.'s foreign policy worked out so well.

Education, Jeb's consuming policy interest, is not the talk of the town in Washington. And let ladies beware that he's no friend to girls and women. He'd overturn constitutional reproductive rights if he could. Actually, so would the whole field — and perhaps voting rights, too, seeing as women will lean toward Clinton.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is like the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy without the charm. In his short time in the Senate since 2013, he's alienated colleagues — I mean Republican colleagues — with tea party defiance. He bucked leadership by staging a night-and-day diatribe against Obamacare that lapsed into Dr. Seuss. He has trademarked truculence as his calling card. I hear the same was true at Princeton University, where he was equally popular.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is like former President Ronald Reagan without the charm. He hero-worships Reagan, an idol of his youth who has dominated his political thought and career. He broke the back of collective bargaining by public employees in the state where collective bargaining was invented. His street-fighter style in facing an outraged recall effort has endeared him to some donors. Reagan fired the air traffic controllers on strike early in his presidency but seldom acted so confrontationally.

Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky are different cups of tea, each obscure in his own way. Paul has a following among men in foreign policy circles for being an independent thinker. Rubio, 43, is long on hawkish talk and thin on gravitas. Yet given his fervent Cuban-American base in Miami, he might make Bush, his mentor, stumble in vote-rich Florida.

Back to Clinton. Give her this: She's a vivid quilt of contradictions who never gives up, with a broad laugh at the end of the day. Born in the Midwest, educated in New England and married in the South, she's a portrait of America. The nation remains restless as a river, and the mighty Mississippi wends many ways, cutting through the Midwest and going miles down south to New Orleans.

But most friends agree that her choice to handle all her email on a private server showed poor judgment. She's set up now for an ongoing battle with political foes. Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina chairs the committee that may hound her through the cycle. It's as if he learned at the knee of Kenneth Starr, the counsel who pursued the Whitewater investigation into Bill Clinton's sex scandal in 1998.

Nobody's perfect. But for Hillary Clinton's party, the deal's done: "Hillary or nobody." Those were Bill's famous last words to his mother.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit Creators.com.

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