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A.B. Stoddard: No surprises from Clinton

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Thank goodness. At long last, Hillary Clinton is on her book tour — another account of her life about her life that risks nothing, reveals less and gets tons of press. It couldn’t be more boring.

We all know Clinton is running for president, until and unless something stops her. Any fourth grader could size up the energy with which Clinton-friendly armies are circling the wagons and raising all the money in the Democratic Party and realize this cake is baked.

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For Clinton, life as the default Democratic nominee who remains undeclared and uncommitted is great — there are lucrative speeches, People magazine covers, book signings with throngs of adoring fans and primetime TV interviews that don’t include many tough questions because those are so next year. She can enjoy all of it from a safe distance behind the moat.

For now.

When the time comes next year, when Clinton will have to own up to being a candidate for president, she is desperately going to need a new wrap. Being the most able and capable and experienced candidate in either party is definitely a plus. Becoming the first female president of the United States would be outstanding — but not enough. A grandmother who will have been in public office for more than a decade after spending several other decades as political spouse, who is the most well-known woman on the planet, is not exactly exciting.

So far, Clinton hasn’t come up with an economic message that will define a new approach to what the voters define as our worst problem. She has tried, however, in her characteristically über-cautious manner, to separate herself politely from President Obama on foreign policy in her book, most boringly titled Hard Choices. 

Things did get a bit more interesting after Clinton stepped in it in her interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC News and cried poor, explaining how broke she and former President Bill Clinton were, when he left office in 2001, unable to come up with the money for things like “mortgages, houses” plural. The same fourth grader might be able to Google the fact that both former POTUS and former FLOTUS command six digits for speeches and that Bill Clinton alone has earned more than $100 million in speechmaking since leaving the White House.

Trying to explain those rough days when they were “dead broke,” Clinton indicated the following day on “Good Morning America” that she understands she hasn’t been the poster girl for struggle. “We have a life experience that is clearly different in many dramatic ways from many Americans, but we also had gone through some of the same challenges,” she said ever so carefully.

There is plenty of time for Clinton to make more mistakes, which will keep her from admitting her presidential plans for as long as possible. Between now and the nomination convention, there will be plenty of time for her to break out and don a new clothing style (hairdo changes have been exhausted), take up a new interest in a fascinating medical issue, reveal her mindless addiction to Sudoku or at least live out her grandmothering in the press, so people are distracted from the fact that her policies and candidacy will never surprise or risk anything

Clinton’s story is one of unstoppable ambition guided by caution; that won’t change unless something unexpected happens. No matter what is thrown at her, she is going to survive. She has a very good chance at becoming president. But between now and then, you can expect her to work hard to keep things dull.

 

Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.