The Politico reports that top GOPers have begun to fear that New York Senator Hillary Clinton may have what George Bush I called “Big Mo” — big momentum that will not only win her the 2008 Democratic nomination but propel her into the White House:
What many conservatives regard as the nightmare scenario — President Hillary Rodham Clinton — is increasingly seen by veteran Republican politicians and strategists as virtual inevitability.
In GOP circles, the Democratic front-runner is seen as so strong, and the political climate for Republicans so hostile, that many influential voices — including current and former lawmakers, and veterans of President Bush’s campaigns — have grown despairing. These partisans describe a political equivalent of the stages of grief, starting with denial, then resentment and ending with acceptance.
Note that there are now two stages: the inevitability of Ms. Clinton plus a recognition that the American public remains soured on GOPers. MORE:
For now, these Republicans say the party needs good luck, including a change of fortune in Iraq, and a revival of organization and leadership in the conservative movement to avert another Clinton presidency.
“If the conservative movement and Republicans don’t understand how massive the Clinton coalition is, she will be the next president,” former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said in an interview last week, after giving a private talk to GOP lawmakers. Clinton will win, he added, “if we don’t use everything available to us and motivate our base, the people that believe in us.”
In his closed-door comments to conservative House members, DeLay warned of the wealth and political potency of the Clinton fundraising network.
Now the questions become: (1) are the resources the GOP has available to it? And (2) what will they use to motivate their base? For one thing, Americans need to be prepared to see one of the most massive campaigns to bring up “the negatives” in a political figure in recent years. And they thought the derision about Al Gore’s wardrobe and his inventing the Internet (what we can tell you is that skippy invented the phrase “blogtopia”).
But can it work this time? Unless the GOP begins to give some tangible positives to the American public the results of 2006 are likely to not just be replicated in 2008 but perhaps extend further. The GOP is not going to win against Hillary Clinton by just alarming its base. It lost Democrats in droves and polls have shown that a) centrist and moderate voters matter and b) the GOP has been losing them.
Still, keep in mind: NOTHING is inevitable in American politics. Just do research on President Edmund Muskie and President John Connally if you want to learn about what happened to some perceived front runners. Or John Kerry reading the exit polls (they turned out to be “botched” polls).
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.