Q: Hillary Clinton has 2016 locked up, right?
Q: But she is such a favorite she will freeze out potential Democratic opponents!
A: She will not freeze out potential Democratic opponents.
Q: How come?
A: Because she can’t. She was the favorite in 2008, too. She had the media coverage and the superstar status and the poll numbers all in her favor. But a guy named Barack Obama came along and ran anyway.
Heck, in 2008 Hillary couldn’t freeze out Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, John Edwards or Joe Biden. They all ran. Plus a bunch of others. The front-runner can always stumble, just like Hillary did.
So don’t expect Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley, Deval Patrick, Mark Warner, Antonio Villaraigosa or even Rahm Emanuel to stop thinking about tomorrow.
Q: But Hillary has a stronger resume now than she did in 2008. She was Secretary of State for four years.
A: And Joe Biden will have been vice president for eight years as well as having been a U.S. senator for 36 years.
Q: Joe Biden! He’s too old to run in 2016.
A: Maybe, maybe not. True, he would be 74 on Jan. 20, 2017, which would make him the oldest president to take the oath of office. But Hillary would be 69, as was Ronald Reagan, who is the oldest president ever to be sworn in. And Biden doesn’t project old.
Q: Hillary will lock up all the money.
A: Hillary won’t lock up all the money. Nobody can anymore. Even if you have a large number of bundlers — and she would — the Internet levels the playing field. The Internet is the greatest fundraising tool since the invention of moonshine. A candidate can raise millions and millions in a short amount of time. Ask Ron Paul.
Q: But he lost. You need more than money. You need organization! Like Hillary had in 2008.
A: Hillary had a lousy organization in 2008. She chose her staffers for their personal loyalty rather than their skill or experience. (If you would like to read my somewhat endless six-part analysis of it, go here: goo.gl/61FnG)
Q: So what?
A: So Obama cleaned her clock, that’s what. His staff knew how to amass delegates; her staff did not.
Q: Ancient history. She has been tested.
A: She will face new tests.
Q: Like what?
A: Like how good a job she really did as Secretary of State. Both her Democratic and Republican opponents will ask what success she had in advancing peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Or what success she had in Syria or Iran or North Korea.
And do you really think her opponents will leave Benghazi alone?
Q: That would be terribly unfair.
A: And unfair never happens in politics, right? Besides, how do you know she wants to run for president?
Q: Why wouldn’t she?
A: Did she really enjoy it in 2008? The press pack yapping at her heels. The constant demands for her to show her more personal side. The endless scrutiny of every word, every slip-up, every gaffe. It’s not a fun thing.
Q: So she won’t run?
A: No, she might run. I really doubt if she has decided. There will be huge pressure from the party for her to run. Many Democratic sages tell her that if she doesn’t run, a Republican is sure to win the presidency in 2016.
Q: And she can’t resist that?
A: No, she can resist that. A number of Democratic sages told her the same thing in 2008 and then switched their support to Obama. What she may be unable to resist is the call of history, those who urge her to run to break the glass ceiling and to be an inspiration to future generations.
Q: And that would do it?
A: Not entirely. She would also have to believe she would make a good president.
Q: Would she?
A: I think so. But others might make good presidents, too. And it’s a long time until 2016.
Q: Well, I just hope the media show a little restraint.
A: Right. Because we do restraint really well.
Roger Simon is editor of Politico.