Following the midterm “repudiation” of Obama’s policies, he largely doubled-down on his unpopular agenda and moved forward with executive actions independent of the “hostile” Congress. But this political individualism may hurt the Democrats in general, and Hillary Clinton in particular, in 2016:
Mr. Obama’s willingness to disregard the public’s wishes will hurt Mrs. Clinton in particular. The president’s former secretary of state is already struggling to forge an independent identity without disowning the president. It will be almost impossible for Mrs. Clinton to directly oppose him over the next two years, though she will certainly continue to try to distance herself from Mr. Obama, as she did during her summer book tour. But if the president continues to lose the support of Democrats and moderates—as Mrs. Clinton has—she might have no alternative but to shelve her presidential ambitions.
Surely the Democrats have been considering this. But what can they really do? Their options are fraught with dangerous possibilities. Democrats could back the President completely, and jettison moderate and populist support. Or they could reject the President completely, and jettison far-left liberals and any demographics (like African-Americans and Latinos) that likely side with the President’s agenda. Or, as has been the case, Democrats will attempt to skirt the issue and play both sides.
But Hillary Clinton is terrible at skirting issues. In an ironic twist for our former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has trouble being diplomatic. When she tries, she often comes off as a terrible actor. Because, “Just tell me what you want me to say so that you will all agree with me,” is really not an effective message to send to an already distrustful and cynical electorate.
Is it the case that Obama doesn’t care what his policies will mean for 2016? Or does he have something up his sleeve to continue his imperial presidency? Or do the Democrats think Republicans will bungle things so badly in the next two years that they won’t even have to talk about their own gaffes when the time comes? Who knows. But this is for sure: watching Hillary Clinton navigate this mess is and will be quite entertaining.