Here's a current headline at Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:
Why Does Hillary Clinton Want to be President?
Yes, that's a burning question in the Beltway. What's her campaign's rationale? We saw this yesterday in Amy Chozik's New York Times article about the upcoming Clinton rally in New York:
Mrs. Clinton has yet to put forth a clear rationale for her candidacy since announcing in a brief online video that she would run for the Democratic nomination.
“She has to articulate an authentic, compelling rationale for her candidacy, a cause and vision that is larger than her own ambitions,” said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama.
And now Goddard quotes Politico's Glenn Thrush, who says the same thing:
... on the eve of Clinton’s formal campaign kickoff in New York this weekend, the “what’s the point of running?” question looms over the presumptive Democratic front-runner and her campaign. Over the past few months, even some of Clinton’s most fervent and loyal supporters have fretted to me, over and over, that she hasn’t yet articulated a compelling rationale for her second race for the White House beyond the sense that it’s finally her turn and her political view that she’s facing a relatively weak Republican field.
Why are we asking this question about Hillary Clinton? Why have even her supporters internalized the notion that the question is meaningful?
Or, rather: Why are we not asking this question about the other top-tier candidates -- you know, the ones in the Republican Party? Oh, sure, we might ask why the hell George Pataki is running when no one likes him. But why is Jeb Bush running? Or Ted Cruz? We might ask this about Marco Rubio and conclude that he hopes to crack a glass ceiling by becoming the first Hispanic president -- but if you think that's a sufficient answer, why isn't it sufficient for Hillary Clinton to say she wants to be the first female president?
You might say that, in each case, the Republican candidates' rationale is that they want to reverse much of what President Obama did. But why does that justify an individual Republican's decision to run? With the possible exception of Rand Paul on a few issues, they'll all pursue the same agenda if elected. So what's the point of any Republican candidate's run if plenty of other people will run on the same platform?
It's absurd, of course. How much more motivation do you need than I believe in a certain set of policies and I think I can get elected and enact them? To the press, that does seem to be enough motivation when it comes to, say, Scott Walker, or even John Kasich. But not Hillary.
This seems to be a variation on the 2000 campaign, when the top Democrat in the race was also someone the press didn't like. In that campaign, the press didn't puzzle over Al Gore's reasons for running; instead, journalistic insiders were certain they knew: Gore was a brooding scion who was running because of unresolved daddy issues -- unlike his general-election opponent, George W. Bush, who was seen as affable and not at all psychologically complex. Of course, it turned out that Bush was a testy brooder with daddy and sibling issues, and some of this emotional baggage helped get us into a couple of ruinous wars. Whoops! Too bad we never looked into that before Bush was sworn in!
This year the press is at least considering the question of W's brother's sibling issues -- but journalists aren't asking whether he has any good reason to run. It's just assumed that he does. Among A-list candidates, it's only an issue with regard to Hillary.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog