It is a bit like playing parlor games trying to guess whether or not Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016 but I suppose journalists just can’t help themselves from asking Hillary Clinton and anyone who has ever written about Clinton.
A journalist recently ask me the ubiquitous “Will she or won’t she” question and “How do I know?” was my answer, though I said it as sweetly as possible so as not to seem annoyed by the question.
Instead of asking “Will she run?” a better question might be “Why would she or why wouldn’t she run?”
So, here is my take on those (better, in my opinion) questions:
Why Hillary Clinton would run:
1. Because she may win. She knows what it is like to mount a presidential campaign as the candidate and now she’s prepared (or prepared as anyone can be) for the abusive press treatment.
2. She wants to lead with her vision for America. She has been a loyal soldier in Obama’s army, but she would do things differently. This would be her chance.
Why she won’t run:
1. To work on women and girls’ initiatives full-time.
She may be able to do more for the causes she cares about, such as fighting for the rights of women and children out of office. A review of her significant speeches show her passion for this mission field. We can learn a lot from speeches.
A huge part of her farewell speech as Secretary of State was devoted to women and girls’ issues:
…where women and girls are treated as second-class, marginal human beings. Just ask young Malala from Pakistan. Ask the women of northern Mali who live in fear and can no longer go to school. Ask the women of the Eastern Congo who endure rape as a weapon of war.
And that is the final lever that I want to highlight briefly. Because the jury is in, the evidence is absolutely indisputable: If women and girls everywhere were treated as equal to men in rights, dignity, and opportunity, we would see political and economic progress everywhere. So this is not only a moral issue, which, of course, it is. It is an economic issue and a security issue, and it is the unfinished business of the 21st century. It therefore must be central to U.S. foreign policy.
One of the first things I did as Secretary was to elevate the Office of Global Women’s Issues under the first Ambassador-at-Large, Melanne Verveer. And I’m very pleased that yesterday, the President signed a memorandum making that office permanent.
In the past four years, we’ve made – (applause) – thank you. In the past four years, we’ve made a major push at the United Nations to integrate women in peace and security-building worldwide, and we’ve seen successes in places like Liberia. We’ve urged leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya to recognize women as equal citizens with important contributions to make. We are supporting women entrepreneurs around the world who are creating jobs and driving growth.
2. We want a new drug, so to speak.
She isn’t an exciting, new candidate. We are a fickle voting public and Secretary Clinton’s star turn as the secretary of state will recede quickly from many voters memories.
I believe that one of the reasons Barack Obama was successful is because we were swept away with his new, fresh face and his compelling story which we hadn’t heard before. We know (or think we know) Secretary Clinton’s story, almost by heart!
3. Why go through it?
It is a brutal slog, that running for president gig. And though some of us think she got more right than wrong with her last effort, she still lost. What a pain.
4. Help the party while having a life.
She can help the nominee more than almost anyone else in the Democratic party without taking it on as a full-time job.
5. Finish her formal career on a high note.
Hillary Clinton has transformed the role of first lady, been a respected senator, a highly effective secretary of state, and the first non-symbolic female to run for president. She almost won the Democratic nomination.
Before we know it candidates for 2016 will begin to line up and perhaps Secretary Clinton will be among them. OK, I took my turn at the parlor game of the moment. Your turn.