Commentary Magazine


Topic: 2016 presidential contest

Is Christie the Foreign Policy Candidate?

In the last month, conservatives looking for a possible 2016 presidential candidate with a serious approach to defense and foreign policy were starting to wonder if they would be stuck with outliers rather than frontrunners. The only reason why people like former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and Rep. Peter King—men who are respected voices on these issues but not likely to have a chance at the nomination—were getting even minimal attention for their presidential trial balloons was the fact that all of the likely contenders have been ignoring the question of America’s need to maintain a forward position in the world and in the war on Islamist terror.

Even worse, the increasing popularity of libertarian figures like Senator Rand Paul and, to a lesser extent, Senator Ted Cruz seemed to indicate that the Republican Party was abandoning its long stance as the political bulwark of a strong America in favor of a new isolationism. The willingness of so many Republicans to join Rep. Justin Amash, another libertarian foe of anti-terror measures, in a House vote to abolish the National Security Agency’s phone surveillance program on Wednesday—and the unusual deference they got from House Speaker John Boehner—underlined this concern.

But yesterday a leading figure in the GOP and someone seen as a formidable presidential possibility for 2016 finally fired back at Paul. Speaking at panel at the Aspen Institute, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie denounced the effort to pull back on anti-terror measures as “dangerous” and warned that those—like Paul—who are attempting to craft an American retreat from the world are playing with fire. In speaking in this manner, Christie put himself on record as endorsing the policies of President George W. Bush that have been largely continued by President Obama as necessary, and served notice that Paul will be strongly opposed by Republicans who don’t want their party to be hijacked by isolationists. In doing so, Christie not only indicated that he is prepared to run in part on foreign policy issues but may embolden other possible candidates with similar views to his on this question, like Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan, to do the same.

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In the last month, conservatives looking for a possible 2016 presidential candidate with a serious approach to defense and foreign policy were starting to wonder if they would be stuck with outliers rather than frontrunners. The only reason why people like former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and Rep. Peter King—men who are respected voices on these issues but not likely to have a chance at the nomination—were getting even minimal attention for their presidential trial balloons was the fact that all of the likely contenders have been ignoring the question of America’s need to maintain a forward position in the world and in the war on Islamist terror.

Even worse, the increasing popularity of libertarian figures like Senator Rand Paul and, to a lesser extent, Senator Ted Cruz seemed to indicate that the Republican Party was abandoning its long stance as the political bulwark of a strong America in favor of a new isolationism. The willingness of so many Republicans to join Rep. Justin Amash, another libertarian foe of anti-terror measures, in a House vote to abolish the National Security Agency’s phone surveillance program on Wednesday—and the unusual deference they got from House Speaker John Boehner—underlined this concern.

But yesterday a leading figure in the GOP and someone seen as a formidable presidential possibility for 2016 finally fired back at Paul. Speaking at panel at the Aspen Institute, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie denounced the effort to pull back on anti-terror measures as “dangerous” and warned that those—like Paul—who are attempting to craft an American retreat from the world are playing with fire. In speaking in this manner, Christie put himself on record as endorsing the policies of President George W. Bush that have been largely continued by President Obama as necessary, and served notice that Paul will be strongly opposed by Republicans who don’t want their party to be hijacked by isolationists. In doing so, Christie not only indicated that he is prepared to run in part on foreign policy issues but may embolden other possible candidates with similar views to his on this question, like Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan, to do the same.

Paul immediately fired back at Christie saying he’s against terror but only wants to preserve the Constitution. But he’s made it clear that what he wants is a massive pullback of efforts to seek out and fight Islamist terrorists as well as a general retreat from America’s position as a global power with commensurate responsibilities. Paul has tried to call this stance “realism,” but stripped of its rhetorical trappings that attempt to differentiate his positions from those of his crackpot father, former presidential candidate Ron Paul, it is merely warmed-over isolationism. Paul has sought to play upon the war-weariness of Americans after Iraq and Afghanistan to bring this isolationist trend into the mainstream from the margins and fever swamps of the far right and far left, where it has dwelt since before World War II. And to judge by Wednesday’s House vote and his own poll ratings, he’s succeeding.

But as Christie pointed out, anyone who wants to cut back on the Bush/Obama anti-terror measures should come to New York or New Jersey and meet the families of 9/11 victims. Programs such as the NSA metadata mining have helped stop numerous attempts to repeat that atrocity. As Rep. Tom Cotton pointed out on the floor of the House on Wednesday, America is still at war and Republicans who ignore this fact are doing the country as well as their party a grave disservice.

The notion that most grass roots Republicans want the GOP to become the anti-war or the anti-anti-terror party is a fiction. As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, another member of the panel on which Christie spoke as well as another possible presidential candidate, pointed out, the attempt to transform the Republican Party in this manner is largely the function of “a few loud and vocal people talking in Washington and I don’t think that necessarily reflects where the party is.”

Walker is not only right about that, but his willingness to state this fact should stand as a rebuke to those pundits and politicians who have assumed that all Tea Party supporters are natural allies of Paul and the libertarians. The Republican base believes in limited government and opposes President Obama’s massive expansion of the federal leviathan. But it is not a bastion of isolationism and paranoia about national defense efforts. Most Republicans are capable of making a distinction between the need to cut back on unnecessary governmental intrusions into the public sector and the all-too-necessary responsibility of Washington to provide for the national defense.

Rand Paul may have thought his path to the presidential nomination had no serious obstacles on the foreign policy front, as so many in the top ranks of the GOP leadership seemed to fear to take him on after seeing the way Republicans cheered his filibuster on drone attacks last February. But Chris Christie’s comments as well as those of Scott Walker show that any such confidence is misplaced. It’s a long way until 2016 and there’s no telling who will turn out to be Paul’s chief antagonist on foreign policy. But whoever it turns out to be, the assumption that the libertarians will have the advantage may turn out to be a fallacy. 

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The GOP’s Foreign Policy Candidate?

It’s not clear how seriously Republicans will take Robert Costa’s report in National Review Online today that John Bolton is exploring the idea of a run for president in 2016. While the prospect of a candidacy from the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations set off chortles on both the far left and the paleo-con right, Bolton’s interest in the Republican presidential nomination may leave most GOP power-brokers and grass roots activists in early primary states cold. With a deep bench of potential Republican presidential candidates including genuine political stars like Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker and even 2012 retreads like Rick Santorum lining up for the next contest, there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for a Bolton candidacy.

But though the odds are he never makes it to the starting line, let alone the finish line, the idea of a Bolton candidacy is not quite as insane as it may seem at first glance. With many Republicans starting to flock to the neo-isolationist banner put forward by Rand Paul and with many conservative activists now treating the ongoing war on Islamist terror as being not as important as their dislike of Barack Obama, it is arguable that there is no longer a solid Republican consensus in favor of a strong American foreign policy. Though some of the other possible candidates do differ from Paul about the impulse to pull back from a forward posture abroad, none have prioritized that issue. If Bolton is even talking about what would probably be a quixotic run it is only because he knows it is vital for there to be a vigorous debate about foreign and defense policy so as to turn back the Paulite push.

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It’s not clear how seriously Republicans will take Robert Costa’s report in National Review Online today that John Bolton is exploring the idea of a run for president in 2016. While the prospect of a candidacy from the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations set off chortles on both the far left and the paleo-con right, Bolton’s interest in the Republican presidential nomination may leave most GOP power-brokers and grass roots activists in early primary states cold. With a deep bench of potential Republican presidential candidates including genuine political stars like Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker and even 2012 retreads like Rick Santorum lining up for the next contest, there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for a Bolton candidacy.

But though the odds are he never makes it to the starting line, let alone the finish line, the idea of a Bolton candidacy is not quite as insane as it may seem at first glance. With many Republicans starting to flock to the neo-isolationist banner put forward by Rand Paul and with many conservative activists now treating the ongoing war on Islamist terror as being not as important as their dislike of Barack Obama, it is arguable that there is no longer a solid Republican consensus in favor of a strong American foreign policy. Though some of the other possible candidates do differ from Paul about the impulse to pull back from a forward posture abroad, none have prioritized that issue. If Bolton is even talking about what would probably be a quixotic run it is only because he knows it is vital for there to be a vigorous debate about foreign and defense policy so as to turn back the Paulite push.

If we had elections for secretary of state, Bolton would be a serious Republican candidate for the job. Though dismissed as a neo-con warmonger by those who prefer appeasement at the UN and apologies to the world rather than a forthright exposition of American values and interests, Bolton’s views on foreign policy are very much in the mainstream of Republican thought. His sensible analyses of foreign policy on Fox News as well as his occasional contributions to COMMENTARY provide eloquent testimony to his expertise on the issues. But not even in wartime are Americans likely to elect someone whose orientation is toward foreign rather than domestic policy. Even in a wide open 2012 GOP presidential field largely populated by easily-dismissed candidates, Bolton’s brief flirtation with a run failed to attract any interest and there’s even less reason to think he’d do any better next time.

But if both Rubio and Ryan decide against running in 2016, there could be no one willing to take on Paul and his increasingly popular inclination to pull back from the world and pretend the Islamist war on the West is none of our concern. Paul is certain to be a first-tier candidate and strong showings by him in primaries and caucuses could encourage other contenders to start to echo him in an attempt to please war-weary and libertarian-inclined voters. That will leave an opening for someone to speak up on foreign affairs, and perhaps Bolton feels it might as well be a candidate who actually understands the issues.

It is to be hoped that Paul will find himself challenged on foreign and defense policy in 2016 by stronger opposition than a former ambassador who isn’t likely to win a delegate. But though it will probably crash before it takes off, the Bolton trial balloon shows us that there is a desperate need for a GOP foreign policy debate that will head off the surge for Paul. 

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Good Old Joe and Hillary’s Front Porch

The Washington Post’s flattering profile of Joe Biden that was published today didn’t tell us much we didn’t already know about the vice president and the consuming ambition that has driven his long career in politics. The big question hanging over the piece is whether Biden will run for president in 2016. But the only line you really had to read in the piece was the one attributed to several of his friends. While acknowledging the long odds facing him if he chose to run for president whether or not Hillary Clinton runs, “For Biden, who has been running for office since his 20s, not running would feel unnatural.”

Unnatural or not, the Post makes clear what has been increasingly apparent: Clinton’s entry into the field would make a Biden candidacy highly unlikely. Though the memory of her “inevitable” election to the presidency in 2008 must not be forgotten, Clinton’s absence from the political fray during four years as a popular if ineffectual secretary of state has given her the kind of commanding position that hasn’t been seen in presidential politics since Dwight Eisenhower bided his time waiting for his opportunity during the Truman administration. The former first lady may not be a hero of the greatest war in history, but her potential to be the first woman president gives her the kind of politically correct status in her party that will make it all but impossible for any serious Democrat to oppose her. That’s why all the speculation about Biden is largely pointless.

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The Washington Post’s flattering profile of Joe Biden that was published today didn’t tell us much we didn’t already know about the vice president and the consuming ambition that has driven his long career in politics. The big question hanging over the piece is whether Biden will run for president in 2016. But the only line you really had to read in the piece was the one attributed to several of his friends. While acknowledging the long odds facing him if he chose to run for president whether or not Hillary Clinton runs, “For Biden, who has been running for office since his 20s, not running would feel unnatural.”

Unnatural or not, the Post makes clear what has been increasingly apparent: Clinton’s entry into the field would make a Biden candidacy highly unlikely. Though the memory of her “inevitable” election to the presidency in 2008 must not be forgotten, Clinton’s absence from the political fray during four years as a popular if ineffectual secretary of state has given her the kind of commanding position that hasn’t been seen in presidential politics since Dwight Eisenhower bided his time waiting for his opportunity during the Truman administration. The former first lady may not be a hero of the greatest war in history, but her potential to be the first woman president gives her the kind of politically correct status in her party that will make it all but impossible for any serious Democrat to oppose her. That’s why all the speculation about Biden is largely pointless.

As the Post reminds us, the vice president has been an unexpected success in office. While most political observers had come to rightly view him as a poster child for term limits and a gasbag who had flopped miserably in two attempts to win the presidency, it was precisely his conviviality and decades of experience in Washington that made him an essential aide to President Obama. With the cerebral and ice-cold commander-in-chief unwilling or unable to deign to bargain, let alone banter, with members of Congress, it has fallen to Biden to be the prime minister of this administration. It is no exaggeration to say that without him, the slim roster of the president’s legislative achievements would be a great deal slimmer.

But the avuncular “good old Joe,” who can cut a deal with former Senate colleagues, rouse the rabble at Democratic rallies (often by engaging in outrageous hyperbole such as his classic warning to a black audience in Virginia that Republicans were planning to “put y’all back in chains”) and weep on cue when meeting family members of victims of mass shootings, is no match for Clinton in 2016.

The main takeaway from the talk about Biden or any of the lesser Democratic possibilities for 2016 is that Clinton’s continuing absence from the fray is only making her stronger. The more we talk about other Democrats, the more we realize that none of them are positioned to compete with her increasingly untouchable position as the person whose main qualification to be president will be her gender.

That’s the genius of a Clinton strategy that centers on the candidate keeping quiet for as long as possible. Without her in the picture, the discussion about other candidates will remain more about Clinton than her rivals. As long as she is not engaging in the back and forth of political discourse during which her less than perfect temperament and conventional liberal beliefs would hamper her, as they did in 2008, she can sweep the field and persuade all serious opposition to evaporate.

If anything, all this should convince Clinton to keep under wraps these next two years. Other than sallying forth for lucrative speaking engagements, her advisors should be telling her to stay at home–at least until the fall of 2015 if not later. The longer she keeps Democrats waiting, the easier it will be for her to recreate what is essentially a 19th-century presidential campaign dynamic in which the party will beg her to be its nominee, rather than the other way around. There is no more certain template for a Clinton presidential nomination than for her to stay on her front porch and let the nation come to her. Absent ill health or some factor about which we currently know nothing, I think the chances of her not running are minimal. How could anyone as ambitious as Hillary resist a race that will be more of a queen’s coronation than a presidential nomination contest?

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The Ted Cruz Political Paradigm

We’re far enough away from 2016 that rumors about possible presidential candidacies are all equally true and untrue. Anybody can talk about running and anyone can talk/write about those thinking about running. But the rumors being floated about Ted Cruz have struck a nerve in a way that, say, the scenarios about similar long shots such as Scott Walker or Kirsten Gillibrand do not. Cruz has made himself an usually large number of enemies for a man who has spent only 100 days in the Senate along with the outsized publicity he has garnered for his bare knuckles-style of political fisticuffs that he has displayed in this period.

But although I think Seth makes some excellent points about how a Senate where all the major players have an eye on the White House is doomed to dysfunction, I think it is a mistake to view Cruz as a conventional politician on the make. If there is anything we’ve learned about him, it is that although his Texas-sized ego and ambitions are very much in evidence, he is working off a slightly different playbook than that of potential GOP rivals Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.

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We’re far enough away from 2016 that rumors about possible presidential candidacies are all equally true and untrue. Anybody can talk about running and anyone can talk/write about those thinking about running. But the rumors being floated about Ted Cruz have struck a nerve in a way that, say, the scenarios about similar long shots such as Scott Walker or Kirsten Gillibrand do not. Cruz has made himself an usually large number of enemies for a man who has spent only 100 days in the Senate along with the outsized publicity he has garnered for his bare knuckles-style of political fisticuffs that he has displayed in this period.

But although I think Seth makes some excellent points about how a Senate where all the major players have an eye on the White House is doomed to dysfunction, I think it is a mistake to view Cruz as a conventional politician on the make. If there is anything we’ve learned about him, it is that although his Texas-sized ego and ambitions are very much in evidence, he is working off a slightly different playbook than that of potential GOP rivals Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.

I should state first of all that I don’t take the speculation about a Cruz run for the presidency all that seriously. I don’t doubt that Cruz could raise the money for a run and that his high profile would make him a contender. Nor do I think, as Seth noted, that his rivals should underestimate him. In fact, I think almost all of them would regard the prospect of debating him with some trepidation and with good reason. The Texas senator leaves scorched earth behind him even in routine political speeches. Imagine what he’d do on a podium with the GOP presidential nomination on the line.

But where his potential rivals for the nomination have been carefully trying to cultivate new friends and reassure their base in the lead-up to 2016, Cruz is just swinging away on the issues without showing many signs of cold calculations. It may be that making enemies at a record rate can build you a constituency of contrarians, but it is not the textbook path to the White House. Far from picking his fights carefully the way a would-be president would do, he is simply fighting anyone he disagrees with. My sense is that he is merely going with the flow and seeing where the publicity that results from the fights he is naturally drawn to leads him.

Along these lines, I think today’s feature in Politico about Cruz captured a bit more of the truth about his prospects than a lot of those who have been hyperventilating about the possibility of him running for president. While that piece was mostly written from the point of view of those who don’t like the Texan, it rightly points out that all he has been doing is expressing the views of a great many conservatives who would like more of their representatives to play the “arsonist” in the go-along-to-get-along world of D.C. politics. If he is happily exploiting the notoriety he has received from his confrontations with other senators, it’s not because Cruz is carefully operating off of a blueprint aimed at taking him to the White House in four years, the way it seems at times that Rubio and Paul are doing. He is, instead, merely pursuing a vision of how to use a Senate seat that is at odds with the conventional approach that most of his colleagues have followed. We’ll find out whether that leads to bigger things in the future, but in the meantime, Cruz is going to play out the hand he has dealt himself.

Though he has seemingly invited demonization, for all of the outrage about his rough handling of Chuck Hagel and calling his Republican colleagues “squishes,” Cruz has yet to do anything that even remotely justifies the comparisons that liberals have been making to Joseph McCarthy.

Cruz has come along at a moment in our political history when the conventional wisdom about Washington is that we need more dealmakers and compromisers. Though conservatives tend to prefer the old William F. Buckley approach of dealing with liberalism by standing athwart its path and saying “no,” Tea Party favorites like Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey have chosen instead to reach across the aisle to craft compromise legislation on immigration reform and background checks for gun purchases. I happen to think each of their efforts are good policy and smart politics for the Republican Party, but it is not a surprise that Cruz opposes both since he sees compromise with the left as inherently dangerous for both his party and the country.

Such an approach is antithetical to passing legislation, but Cruz’s mission is not to ameliorate the impact of liberal ideology; it is to stop it cold. If he has emerged as a major player in Republican politics it is because unlike other rabble-rousers who kibitz about Washington from the sidelines (such as his backer Sarah Palin), he chose to dive headfirst into the D.C. maelstrom and proceeded to mix it up. Under these circumstances it’s only natural that he would become one of the most important as well as one of the least-liked members of the Senate.

Those who think there’s something illegitimate about an untried freshman stepping forward in this manner don’t know their political history. The notion that seniority is everything in Congress was a 20th-century innovation that had no resonance in the first century and more of our political history. So, too, is the idea that it is presumptuous for a Senate greenhorn to think about the presidency. It’s not just, as Politico points out, that Barack Obama did it. It’s that the idea of waiting your turn is just a device by the political establishment to keep order, not a sacred rule of democracy.

That said, I still don’t see much of an opening for Cruz in 2016 against competitors who are working off a more conventional game plan. The expectation that he can parlay his command of a niche of his party into a successful presidential candidacy is probably to exaggerate the scope of his appeal and to underestimate the strengths of the other contenders. There just isn’t that much room between Paul, Rubio and others like Bobby Jindal or Rick Santorum for a candidate who is as short on charm as Cruz is to win.

But the political paradigm that Cruz represents is one that isn’t going away. So long as conservatives view government as inherently dysfunctional he may find himself assailed by the media and many of his colleagues but adored by a significant faction of his party. 

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Is Gillibrand Dems’ Best Backup?

If you listen to some Democrats, you’ll walk away thinking the race for their presidential nomination in 2016 will be about as exciting as a matchup between the Super Bowl champions and a team from the Little Sisters of the Poor. Hillary Clinton is not just the favorite to be their next standard-bearer. Those who claim her entry will clear the field of serious challengers are probably right. The odds facing any Democrat who would dare take on the Clinton machine will be long and raising money for such a challenge will not be easy. Having patiently waited her turn after being derailed by Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton is in position to portray any Democrat who stands against her as someone who is attempting to prevent the country from electing its first female president. Clinton will not have as easy a time in the general election, but barring the emergence of another Obama-like phenomenon (something that only happens once in a generation, if that often), it’s hard to envision anyone else as the Democrats’ nominee.

But what happens if Clinton doesn’t run? That would open the field to the likes of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, not to mention Vice President Biden, whose lust for the Oval Office appears to have only grown with his proximity to the top job in the last four years. Yet those who assume that one of those three, or someone like them, will rise to the top are forgetting why all of them were assumed to have no chance against Clinton: they’re widely considered to be duds. So if for some as-yet-unforeseen reason Clinton decides to pass on another “inevitable” race for the presidency, Democrats will be looking around for another choice. And one of them will undoubtedly be the senator that her colleagues dubbed “Tracey Flick” during her introduction to Congress: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

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If you listen to some Democrats, you’ll walk away thinking the race for their presidential nomination in 2016 will be about as exciting as a matchup between the Super Bowl champions and a team from the Little Sisters of the Poor. Hillary Clinton is not just the favorite to be their next standard-bearer. Those who claim her entry will clear the field of serious challengers are probably right. The odds facing any Democrat who would dare take on the Clinton machine will be long and raising money for such a challenge will not be easy. Having patiently waited her turn after being derailed by Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton is in position to portray any Democrat who stands against her as someone who is attempting to prevent the country from electing its first female president. Clinton will not have as easy a time in the general election, but barring the emergence of another Obama-like phenomenon (something that only happens once in a generation, if that often), it’s hard to envision anyone else as the Democrats’ nominee.

But what happens if Clinton doesn’t run? That would open the field to the likes of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, not to mention Vice President Biden, whose lust for the Oval Office appears to have only grown with his proximity to the top job in the last four years. Yet those who assume that one of those three, or someone like them, will rise to the top are forgetting why all of them were assumed to have no chance against Clinton: they’re widely considered to be duds. So if for some as-yet-unforeseen reason Clinton decides to pass on another “inevitable” race for the presidency, Democrats will be looking around for another choice. And one of them will undoubtedly be the senator that her colleagues dubbed “Tracey Flick” during her introduction to Congress: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

The comparison of Gillibrand with the protagonist of the scathing 1999 satire “Election” in the feature on her possible candidacy by Politico today is unfair, but it’s not hard to see why the nickname stuck during her early years in Washington. Like the type-A overachiever played in the movie by Reese Witherspoon, Gillibrand is driven, ruthless and charming when she wants to be–not to mention pretty and blond. But while she is still a relative newcomer to the political big leagues and is vulnerable to charges of being a flip-flopper, Gillibrand is perfectly positioned to take up the feminist torch from Clinton. Nor should her potential opponents underestimate her skill in fundraising as well as willingness to take any position she needs to in order to win votes.

Successful presidential candidacies are often the product of good luck, and a Gillibrand run to the nomination would invite comparisons to the runs of both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Clinton had the guts to run in 1992 when more credible Democratic frontrunners (like Andrew Cuomo’s father Mario) didn’t run. Her rise is also reminiscent of Barack Obama’s path to 2008. Obama won an Illinois Senate seat in 2004 largely because the Republican who was assumed to have an easy path to victory was torpedoed by revelations about his divorce. In 2006, Gillibrand faced a double-digit deficit in a long-shot race an upstate New York House race with only a few weeks to go, but won in a walk after newspapers ran stories about her incumbent Republican opponent being involved in a domestic violence incident. A little more than two years after that, she was unexpectedly tapped to replace Clinton in the Senate by former New York Governor David Patterson after the trial balloon floated by Caroline Kennedy crashed and burned.

Gillibrand was a pro-gun moderate in the House, but she was quick to get with the program set for her by mentor Chuck Schumer as she flipped on guns and shifted left on other issues. Some liberals will hold her previous apostasy against her, but if she is the sole woman in the race in 2016, don’t bet on her past deviations from liberal doctrine being an obstacle to lining up solid feminist support. Moreover, her ability to raise money on Wall Street (with Schumer’s backing) will make her a formidable contender in a race in which there will be little ideological diversity.

Anyone who thinks she will listen if told to wait her turn behind fellow New Yorker Cuomo hasn’t followed Gillibrand’s career. Nor is there any reason for her to defer to Biden, who flopped twice as a presidential candidate in the past.

At the moment, there’s no reason to believe Hillary Clinton won’t run for a nomination that is hers for the asking. But if she doesn’t run, Biden, Cuomo and O’Malley should be worrying more about Gillibrand than each other.

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Note to Palin: GOP Needs More than a Mouth

As expected, Fox News cut its ties with Sarah Palin on Friday. The former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate had worn out her welcome at the network over the last year and her brand had lost a lot of its pizzazz after sitting out the 2012 presidential contest and new conservative voices had come to the fore. Though she remains a cult favorite among some on the right and a convenient punching bag for the left, in a party with a large cast of rising stars like Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan and with Rand Paul looking to expand his appeal beyond his father’s libertarian base, her hold on the affections of the Tea Party and/or the GOP base looks tenuous at best. It’s likely that Fox decided she was yesterday’s news.

Palin is taking the blow with her customary defiance. In her first interview since the announcement, she channeled John Paul Jones as she told Breitbart News that she “hadn’t yet begun to fight.”  She spoke about the need for conservatives to go outside their comfort zone and to stop “preaching to the choir.” That’s good advice, though it’s hard to see how anyone as polarizing as Palin is going to get moderates to listen to anything she has to say.

While it’s not clear what her next step is, anyone who writes her off completely is bound to wind up looking silly. She lost a lot of her credibility when she resigned her governorship and then made a number of puzzling career choices, which did nothing but further marginalize her as a serious political figure. But the raw political talent that dazzled so many conservatives in 2008 is still there, even if she spent the last four years acting like a reality TV show star and alienating many people who once wished her well. The problem for Palin is not in finding another platform for her views (something that is all but a given in this era of social media and proliferating political websites) but that if she still harbors an ambition to be more than just another talking head, she’s going to have to something more than talk.

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As expected, Fox News cut its ties with Sarah Palin on Friday. The former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate had worn out her welcome at the network over the last year and her brand had lost a lot of its pizzazz after sitting out the 2012 presidential contest and new conservative voices had come to the fore. Though she remains a cult favorite among some on the right and a convenient punching bag for the left, in a party with a large cast of rising stars like Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan and with Rand Paul looking to expand his appeal beyond his father’s libertarian base, her hold on the affections of the Tea Party and/or the GOP base looks tenuous at best. It’s likely that Fox decided she was yesterday’s news.

Palin is taking the blow with her customary defiance. In her first interview since the announcement, she channeled John Paul Jones as she told Breitbart News that she “hadn’t yet begun to fight.”  She spoke about the need for conservatives to go outside their comfort zone and to stop “preaching to the choir.” That’s good advice, though it’s hard to see how anyone as polarizing as Palin is going to get moderates to listen to anything she has to say.

While it’s not clear what her next step is, anyone who writes her off completely is bound to wind up looking silly. She lost a lot of her credibility when she resigned her governorship and then made a number of puzzling career choices, which did nothing but further marginalize her as a serious political figure. But the raw political talent that dazzled so many conservatives in 2008 is still there, even if she spent the last four years acting like a reality TV show star and alienating many people who once wished her well. The problem for Palin is not in finding another platform for her views (something that is all but a given in this era of social media and proliferating political websites) but that if she still harbors an ambition to be more than just another talking head, she’s going to have to something more than talk.

Palin’s shrinking fan base still hopes she will return to the fray in 2016. Her spring tour of the East Coast in 2011 just as the presidential race was starting demonstrated that she hadn’t lost her star power even if she seemed as unprepared as ever to face the scrutiny of a hostile press. But as the Republican Party licks its wounds from its second defeat at the hands of Barack Obama, most of those who will be considered for the job of leading it back to the White House have one thing in common that Palin lacks: job resumes that show that they either have the guts to fight the Democrats in Washington as Rubio, Ryan and Paul are doing or a record of showing how Republicans can run a state on conservative principles, as Jindal and Christie are proving.

Each of them has different virtues as well as different faults, but all have spent the time since Obama was first elected on the frontlines of the battle against liberalism. It may be that not having a job is something of an advantage in a presidential campaign, but as the years go by the more Palin has taken on the aspect of a celebrity rather than a politician, let alone a political thinker. Celebrity counts a lot in our day and age, but it cannot transform a person who has done everything in her power not to be taken seriously into the sort of person whom Republicans, let alone the general electorate, will trust with the fate of the nation.

Sarah Palin is still a relatively young woman and has a long career of advocacy in front of her. But if she really wants to get back in the political arena, at some point she’s going to have to demonstrate that she’s capable of doing something more than run her mouth. Facebook postings and Internet videos don’t compare well to running a state or standing up to the Democrats in Congress. Unless she decides to get back in the fight somewhere other than on the radio or TV, the odds are she’s going to spend 2016 and every other subsequent presidential year the same place she spent 2012: on the sidelines with fewer and fewer people paying attention to what she says or does.

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