Elizabeth Warren Is The New Russ Feingold Or Howard Dean And That's Bad News For Hillary Clinton, Again

Senate Banking Committee member Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. listens on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2013,
Senate Banking Committee member Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. listens on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, as Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew testifies before the committee. Lew said the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative political groups was "unacceptable and inexcusable" and he has directed the agency's acting director to hold people accountable. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Hillary Clinton: She might be running for president, because she once ran for president, that time before. Remember that? 2008? Lost the Democratic primary thingy? There were superdelegates and stuff?

Well, before long we're going to have another presidential election, in which Hillary Clinton will play an exciting role as a Democratic candidate, unless she doesn't, in which case she won't. It's all speculation at this point. And by "this point," I mean "three years from now."

So how does one take the incipient Hillary speculation and add a dash of drama at a time when she hasn't even announced her intentions? Well, it would seem that The New Republic has cracked the code, and it is "take a known policy position of Hillary Clinton's" and then "identify another Democrat who could run for president as her foil on that specific position." Then just sit back, relax and watch the predicted contest between intraparty rivals fail to materialize!

Let's cast our mind back to the last time we were in this position.

The New Republic article: "Will Iraq make Russell Feingold the new Howard Dean?" by Michael Crowley.

The state of Hillary Clinton: "The current presumed Democratic front-runner."

Her problem: She supported the 2002 Iraq war resolution.

Who didn't support the 2002 Iraq war resolution, though? Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.).

So what? "It's hard to say how Iraq will look once intense primary campaigning begins in late 2007. But it's safe to assume that the war will shape the campaign's early dynamics. Indeed, Feingold's Iraq position is already causing friction between Clinton and the left. According to The Village Voice, in late September, a group of 30 New York antiwar activists wrangled a meeting with a Clinton legislative aide. The purpose of the meeting was to 'pressure' the aide to embrace a Senate resolution setting an exit timetable -- Feingold's resolution, that is."

Why did anyone think he was running for president? Feingold went to a Democratic Party dinner in New Hampshire. Also, he was winning straw polls on liberal blogs. The New Republic declared him "clearly interested in running for president in 2008." (He was not.)

Buzzy, anonymously sourced quote: "One Democratic strategist told me he thinks Clinton's problem is not ideology but authenticity -- a sense among people like [anti-war activist Cindy] Sheehan that Clinton's positions are based more on politics than principle. Authenticity will never be a problem for Feingold."

How was The Huffington Post mixed up in all of this? "Meanwhile, on the Huffington Post blog--one of many liberal websites to celebrate Feingold of late -- the leftist icon Tom Hayden recently asked, 'Is Russ Feingold the Next Howard Dean?'"

The New Republic article: "Hillary's Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren" by Noam Scheiber.

The state of Hillary Clinton: "Once again, the inevitable Democratic nominee."

Her problem: Clinton has "ties to Wall Street" and could "[populate] yet another administration with heirs to [former Treasury Secretary] Robert Rubin."

Who doesn't have ties to Wall Street and wouldn't populate an administration with Rubinites, though? Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

So what? "And then there’s the way Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses so perfectly align with the passions of the moment. 'There’s very much a wait-and-see approach to Hillary among progressives,' says Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. 'I think it’s mutually exclusive to be a real hero for reform and accountability and to have a [fund-raising] strategy that relies on Wall Street.' A financial reform activist is more blunt: 'Unless there is some major public break by Hillary Clinton with this disreputable crowd, then everybody will have to think long and hard before they support her as president. We do not need yet another administration packed full of Wall Street–friendly politicians.'"

Why does anyone think she's running for president? Economic populism is still popular and "poll numbers also suggest the Democratic Party is becoming Elizabeth Warren’s party." Voters are, in general, "more attuned to income inequality ... more supportive of Social Security and Medicare ... fonder of regulation and more skeptical of big business." (Warren actually was one of the Democratic women senators who signed a letter encouraging Clinton to run.)

Buzzy, anonymously sourced quote: "'Yeah, Hillary is running. And she’ll probably win,' says the former aide. 'But Elizabeth doesn’t care about winning. She doesn’t care whose turn it is.'”

How is The Huffington Post mixed up in all of this? "Warren was already a liberal icon before she set foot in the Senate last January. Her public floggings of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner helped make her a fixture on MSNBC, 'The Daily Show,' and The Huffington Post."

It's sort of a pity that this will be the last time The New Republic gets to run this column. Probably, that is!

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